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By R. Anastasia Tremaine - March, 2002
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Beer is an immensely popular beverage, but it is one that is associated with a particular country. German beer in fact is seen as the king of all beers. Around the world, Germany's beer is one of the most respected varieties, in part due to the strict legislation that governs brewing, but also because it seems that the German people take great pains to brew a good beer. It is customary and part of their social structure. The majority of people in Germany socialize in pubs, unlike the United States where bars and not as popular. Although people go out to bars, the social structure in the U.S. is not conducive to alcohol, particularly in today's society where drinking is shunned to an extent. That is not the case in Germany. German beer tastes good, but a student writing on this subject has to understand that beer is not just a beverage, but a part of German culture. People frequent pubs in Germany and while that happens across the world, it seems that in Germany, the local pub is very significant to the culture of the people.
While Germany not only services beer--it makes it--the number of breweries is not so prolific anymore. When compared with the United States today, there are less German breweries. In fact, the amount of U.S. breweries had exceeded that of Germany, even though Germany is the country with the stronger brewing tradition (Carroll, Swaminathan & Anand, 2000). Still, Germany boasts the highest per capita consumption of beer (2000). In 1997, Germany claimed 1,234 (2000, p.714) breweries. By 1999, the number of American breweries had increased to 1,414 (2000, p.714). While that is the case, Germany continues to brew its beer under German law and with a tradition that is consistent with its heritage.
2.0 A Short History of German Beer
Beer has been a part of the diet for centuries at all levels of society ("German Beer," 2002). In other words, beer transcends social boundaries and classes. In Germany, beer is regulated by authorities and it is an important source of tax revenue (2002). Beer was first regulated in Augsburg but when bars would serve bad beer, or dishonest amounts, and would be fined (2002). Again, beer has been around for centuries, but the oldest evidence available that demonstrates beer was brewed in Germany is around 800BC (2002).
3.0 How German Beer is Made
3.1 Brewing beer and the law
The most famous brewing law is called the Reinheitsgebot and also, the "Purity Law" is the oldest food regulation ("German beer," 2002). According to the law, beer should only be brewed from water, hops and barley (2002). Today, yeast is used as well and in fact viewed as a vital ingredient (2002). When the law was written, the effects of yeast were simply unknown (2002). When yeast was first used, brewers would just use the yeast that was found in the air (2002). The Reinheitsgebot still affects brewing in Germany today (2002). A student writing on this subject will want to compare German beer to American beer in order to highlight the importance of the rules in Germany. It is essentially what makes German beer so good. In addition to the ordinary ingredients, Miller beer contains maize and Anheuser-Busch's varieties include rice ("Brew-ha-ha," 1997). The beers are viewed by German brewers as substitutes for native brews (1997). A student writing on this subject will want to point out that German beer is generally seen as a superior brew.
3.2 Who participates in the brewing of beer?
During the earliest centuries, brewing was considered to be women's work and it was not until the first millennium that others took up the task ("German beer," 2002). Monks were particularly interested in doing so, something that probably lead to the myth that...
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