Beer. About 8.6 billion litres is served in Germany each year. There are about 1300
commercial breweries, very big ones, and very small ones. They are united by the German
beer purity law, the Reinheitsgebot, ... it goes back to the year 1516 and lays out strict
rules about what constitutes real beer: only water, hops, malt and yeast. This tradition has
long since become a science.
OTON: Prof. Frank-Jürgen Methner – Technische Universität Berlin
«Beer brewed according to the Reinheitsgebot really is something special. And for the
technicians, that is, the brewers, it's a major challange to make beer based on the rules.
When it comes to beer, nobody accepts that the raw materials may be of different quality
depending on the year. That's accepted with wine, but only because consumers have
learnt to accept it.“
To put it plainly: you can't afford to have a bad year for beer, even if the hop harvest was
poor. Cecilia Cruz Palma came to Berlin from El Salvador to stuy biotechnology at Berlin's
Technical University, with her main focus on the science of brewing. The beer purity law is
a key part of it.
OTON: Cecilia Cruz Palma – Student of Brewing Technology
"I think it's great that that purity is still respected. It's a tradition, and I think that's good. But
I do think there are a few things that could be improved."
Yes, beer is a traditional beverage, but making it is highly modern and complex. Studying
brewing is correspondingly intense.
OTON: Prof. Frank-Jürgen Methner – Technische Universität Berlin
«Brewery technology is based on many basic aspects of science. It includes maths,
physics, chemistry and biology."
Germany without beer is unthinkable, even if beer consumption has been falling for years.
Beer still has a lot of potential.
OTON: Prof. Frank-Jürgen Methner – Technische Universität Berlin
«I think we might see a beer renaissance, and that beer consumption will increase again,
that's if the brewers become more flexible and make more speciality beers for certain
dishes, so that if you're having a meal of several courses you can be served different
beers by a beer waiter.“
Cecilia Cruz Palma will leave the university with a degree in brewing. She wants to own
her own brewery back home in El Salvador. She can envisage making many new different
types of beer, always building on tradition.
OTON: Cecilia Cruz Palma – Studentin im Fach Brauwesen
«The key is Germany's beer purity law, we don't have anything like it in El Salvador. I can
imagine having a brewery which has three different beers, and a seasonal beer as well.
So if it's pineable season, I'd try and included pineapple. So I'd have pure beers of course,
but also a seaonal beer, so that you can try out new things.»
Germany's beer purity law can look back on almost 500 years of success. It's probably one
of Germany's oldess success stories.