The wording of the Reinheitsgebot (Beer Purity Law)

Beer Purity Law  The wording
The historical background
Day of the Beer Purity Law
The German brewing trade
Alive and well throughout the centuries…

The Beer Purity Law enacted by Duke Wilhelm IV in April 1516 was worded as follows:

How Beer Should be Brewed and Served in the Country during the Summer and the Winter

We and Our Regional Parliament hereby decree, request and require that, throughout the cities, market towns and rural districts of the Principality of Bavaria having no special bye-laws for the purpose, one Maß (Bavarian unit of volume = 1.069 Litres) or one Kopf (semicircular drinking bowl holding slightly less than a Maß) of beer shall henceforth – from St. Michael’s Day to St. George’s Day – be served and sold for not more than one Pfennig in Munich currency and that the Maß shall henceforth – from St. George’s Day to St. Michael’s day -be served and sold for not more than two Pfennig of the said currency, the Kopf for no more than three Heller (= usually one half Pfennig). Failure to comply shall incur the penalty stated hereunder. Where, however, no strong light Märzen but some other beer is brewed or otherwise to be had, the Maß shall in no wise be served nor sold for any price exceeding one Pfennig. We more specifically request and require that, henceforth, no beer served or sold in Our cities, market towns and rural centres shall contain nor include any ingredients other than water, hops and malt. Whosoever should wilfully contravene or fail to comply with the present Law shall see his barrels of beer forthwith confiscated by the local legal authority as often as necessary. Where, however, a local brewer purchases two or three Eimer (= contains 60 Maß) from a beer-brewing in Our cities and towns or rural districts or in Our market towns in order to sell the same on to the peasants, he alone, and no-one else, shall be allowed, without let or hindrance, to present, sell and serve the Maß or Kopf of beer for one Heller more than specified in the foregoing.

Decreed by Wilhelm IV
Duke in Bavaria
St. George’s Day,
Ingolstadt, anno 1516

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