The Heritage of Our Bavarian Bier

We here at Hofbräuhaus Pittsburgh are never ones to shy away from tradition. We love to show our pride in our Bavarian roots. Whether that be serving frothy steins of our famous bier, or breaking into The Chicken Dance, we love to take in the joy our heritage brings.

Part of our heritage is the law known as Reinheitsgebot. Written in 1516, Reinheitsgebot changed brewing forever and is known as possibly the World’s oldest consumer protection law currently observed. It has, in fact, even become a classification of bier.

Yes, these are big deals, but is it big enough to have its very own celebration and brew? You bet your lederhosen it is!

This article will show you why after 505 years that this law is still relevant and shaping the bier we brew today. Let’s also chat about what Reinheitsgebot is.

Reinheitsge..what?

Pronunciation: Rine-heights-geh-boat

Literally translated, Reinheitsgebot means purity law or commandment.

This law was one of the first of its kind and is meant to regulate how food or drinks are produced. It lists the ingredients that can go into bier as well as dictating parameters on pricing.

According to the Reinheitsgebot, bier should only be made using barley, water, and hops. Simple ingredients that, when placed together, make a pure and easy-to-drink brew.

Why This is Important

In April of 1516, Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria decided to regulate the bier’s ingredients and distribution and protect his people.

It is worth remembering that, at the time, bier was often safer to drink than water. Medieval Bavaria was not equipped with proper sewage and water filtration. Thus, at times the safest option for hydration was bier.

Back then, drinking anything could be a literal gamble with your life, and this law helped ease that burden.

Literal protection

Before Reinheitsgebot, brewers could (and did) put just about anything into their product, safe or not. Reinheitsgebot bans producers from placing toxins or hallucinogenics into their biers as preservatives or flavorings.

Reinheitsgebot holds manufacturers responsible for what is put in their bier, and how their product affects their customers. It is a promise that the brewers abiding by the law are making a safe product for customers.

As methods and knowledge have advanced, so has Reinheitsgebot. Several amendments have been made over the years to allow for more flavor and brewing options.

Great examples of this are the addition of yeast after 1857, or the use of hops extract in the late 1960s. Additions of these ingredients keep the Reinheitsgebot biers current and full of flavor.

Preventing famine

At the time the law went into effect, famine was a genuine concern. To prevent wheat from going to the production of bier, it is omitted from Reinheitsgebot.

Duke Wilhelm IV had a valid fear of having a lack of wheat.

A shortage of wheat would have led to less bread, which can lead to famine. At the time, food shortages were no joke, and countries were limited in what could be brought in to feed them. This was especially true if you happened to be a peasant or of the working class.

Over time, of course, this has changed, but it is worth noting that at one point, bier was vital to everyday life.

Prost to Reinheitsgebot!

All of our biers here at Hofbräuhaus Pittsburgh are made according to Reinheitsgebot. It is who we are, and we believe it to be a delicious way to honor our heritage. That’s right, if you’ve enjoyed a bier here with us, then you have consumed a Reinheitsgebot.

Look at you, getting Medieval with your biers.

On April 23rd only, we are offering our amazing Lager in To Go crowlers for just $5.00 (limit 4 per person) to celebrate the Reinheitsgebot Law of 1516.

We invite you to have a seat, enjoy our Biergarten, and maybe even do The Chicken Dance with us a few times. We will be celebrating as always with great food and live music! Check our Entertainment Calendar for music schedule updates as COVID restrictions change.

Reinheitsgebot isn’t our only reason to celebrate. Every month we celebrate a new seasonal bier with a keg tapping the first Tuesday of the month at 7:00 p.m or Family Night when Kids Eat Free on the second Tuesday of the month. They are always great times and are reasons to stretch your legs and leave the house…and come to Our Haus!

Bier isn’t our only offering here at Hofbräuhaus Pittsburgh. Our menu is full of Bavarian fare that pairs well with our clean biers…or grab a drink from our excellent full-service bar.

We believe in everyone having a great time and have options for those who watch for Gluten and vegetarians alike.

Come in to join us in the Biergarten, indoors for a stein with friends, or to host an event of your very own.

Be sure to join us on social media by tagging us in your photos! We love to see our friends having a great time. That means our furry ones, too! We gladly welcome dogs in our beautiful Biergarten.

See the History Video