American breweries that follow the Reinheitsgebot tradition.

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Himself, Jul 16, 2015.

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  1. Himself

    Himself Initiate (0) May 20, 2014 Massachusetts

    Recently a rep came into the store I work at with samples from a new brewery that has opened in Easthampton,MA. The selling point was that they were following the German Reinheitsgebot Purity Law from 1516. I thought that was a cool idea especially since it seems American brewers are more intent in one-upmanship right now. What other breweries throughout the country are taking this approach? I couldn't find a list of any kind.
    #1 Himself, Jul 16, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2015
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    WCKDVBZ Meyvn (1,453) May 9, 2014 South Carolina

    I think The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery (OMB), out of Charlotte, NC.
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  3. OldhouseRecs

    OldhouseRecs Disciple (318) Aug 3, 2012 North Carolina

    Also from NC: Red Oak
  4. tstigz

    tstigz Initiate (0) Dec 6, 2010 Illinois

    Not any different than the "one-upmanship" breweries. They're just trading one gimmick for another.
  5. moshea

    moshea Initiate (0) Jul 16, 2007 Michigan

    I am not a fan of the German Reinheitsgebot Purity Law. The original law did not even include yeast as people did not understand yeast's role in the fermentation process.

    The had codified something they did not even understand. I am not surprised though, we have plenty of politicians passing laws they do not understand.
  6. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,550) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    As @tstigz already posted, Fort Hill Brewing is just practicing their form of "one-upmanship" brewing.

    Gunpowder Falls Brewing is in this same category:

    Brewing per the Reinheitsgebot in no way assures that the resulting beers will be of high quality; crappy beer can be brewed just using water, malt, hops, and yeast.

    To intimate that high quality beer cannot be brewed using ingredients other than the ‘basic four’ is nonsense. The Belgian Trappist breweries use sugars (Belgian candi sugar/syrup) to brew their beers and those beers are excellent.

  7. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,477) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Since the Reinheitsgebot allows for the use of only water, barley malt, hops, and yeast* in a beer's recipe, I'd imagine there are a lot of U.S. breweries following the "law." Whether or not they brandish it as a marketing tool is another question.

    (*added after the discovery of yeast as a main factor)
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  8. ChuckHardslab

    ChuckHardslab Disciple (353) Jan 25, 2012 Texas

    I can see your point, but that's kind of like calling ISO 9000 a gimmick.
  9. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Poo-Bah (1,901) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Eliminate breweries that make:
    Belgian style beers (sugars, spices, raw wheat...)
    Many types of Stouts (flaked barley, lactose, coffee, chocolate, spices..)
    Wheat Beers (only Barley was allowed in the RHG 1516)
    Fruit Beers
    Some, but not all, British beers (invert sugars, Brewers caramel, oats...)

    You don't have many left after that.
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  10. Scott17Taylor

    Scott17Taylor Poo-Bah (1,843) Oct 28, 2013 Iowa
    Society Trader

    I dont think many would. Most breweries probably have a few beers that follow it though. The new trends in beer dont really allow for breweries to only make beers that follow the reinheitsgebot
  11. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,477) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    It looks like the Fort Hill Brewery is using the revised RHG as they have a Weizen. :wink:
  12. tstigz

    tstigz Initiate (0) Dec 6, 2010 Illinois

    I'm saying that it's a marketing gimmick to promote the fact that you follow a 500 year old law from a different continent.
  13. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,477) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Maybe not only following the RHG, but there are many breweries that are making good beers that could fit the RHG patent -- whether or not by design. Look at Sierra Nevada's main lineup of year-round beers. Five out of seven fit the bill (when you apply the revision of wheat as allowable).
  14. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Initiate (0) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    The vast majority of American craft beer available still follows that silly purity law.
    I think it's merely a marketing decision for said brewery to have to step out and declare it.
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  15. Himself

    Himself Initiate (0) May 20, 2014 Massachusetts

    That means that sours, IPAs, DIPAs... hell, EVERY kind of brewing is a gimmick. Regardless of style there are good, bad and mediocre breweries. I was just curious if there was a list of some sort, whether it be RHG or revised RGH.
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  16. Scott17Taylor

    Scott17Taylor Poo-Bah (1,843) Oct 28, 2013 Iowa
    Society Trader

    I'm not saying there aren't any great beers that follow it. Just that it would be nearly impossible to be a great American craft brewer and have every beer in your lineup follow the reinheitsgebot.
  17. VincentFrey

    VincentFrey Initiate (0) Jul 30, 2011 Maryland

    I can and will continue to brew horrible beers that follow a largely meaningless law that itself has been revised. Still better than those Belgians and their "sugar" and "fruits"
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  18. tstigz

    tstigz Initiate (0) Dec 6, 2010 Illinois

  19. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,477) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    I don't know, IPAs and DIPAs follow the "law" pretty easily. :grinning: (joking)
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  20. WesMantooth

    WesMantooth Poo-Bah (3,161) Jan 8, 2014 Ohio
    Society Trader

    I believe the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company in Cincinnati does, which makes sense being that it is a reborn pre-prohibition brewery that was originally in the original German settlement area of downtown by the name of OTR (Over the Rhine).
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  21. AugustusRex

    AugustusRex Initiate (0) Apr 12, 2013 Canada (ON)

    I know Dogfish Head follows the Reinheitsgebot quite closely.
  22. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,550) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I would be willing to bet that before prohibition the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company brewed American Adjunct Lagers (what we homebrewers call Classic American Pilsners). The American Adjunct Lager was an 'invention' of German immigrant brewers of that time to brew beers like they had in Germany but using American sourced ingredients (North American 6-row barley malt, corn grits and/or rice).

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  23. chcfan

    chcfan Zealot (563) Oct 29, 2008 California

    I would call it more of a marketing tactic, but yeah, most beers fit that bill anyway so using the label does nothing for me.

    IIRC Great Lakes used to mention on their labels when a beer (possibly that all of their beers?) were brewed in RHG tradition.
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  24. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,550) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    My views are in alignment with @chcfan in that it is more of a marketing tactic.

    Which reminds me of a joke: How do you know when a marketeer is lying to you?

  25. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,790) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado

    Seems like a needless limitation for most US breweries. You're essentially saying that you're only going to brew some very specific styles of beer. Even most places that DO brew phenomenal German styles usually brew some random "chocolate and caramel IPA" nonsense beers for shits and gigs.
    The RHG protected German beer from the light lager "revolution," but claiming it over here is usually pointless.
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  26. DrinkNoH2O

    DrinkNoH2O Initiate (0) Oct 17, 2009 California

    Your argument in the bolded makes no sense at all. You're mentioning styles of beer, what does that prove?

    A brewery marketing themselves as following the RHG in 2015 is absolutely a gimmick. It doesn't mean anything that would add to the quality of beer. There are tons and tons of examples of extremely high quality beer that don't follow RHG. And vice versa.
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  27. pat61

    pat61 Initiate (0) Dec 29, 2010 Minnesota

    I read somewhere that the Bavarian King first implemented the Reinheitsgebot try to preserve wheat and rye for bread and to reduce the number of food riots. During the early years of craft beer it was a big deal to follow the Reinheitsgebot because it meant that the brewer was not making adjunct lager. It didn't always work when the brewer tried to make an all malt Belgian. Following the Reinheitsgebot is a lot like playing classical music with a lot of rules while a lot of craft brewing is more free form like jazz. Both can make good music.
  28. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,477) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Yeah, but look at how many different beers can be brewed using only barley malt, water, hops and yeast. It's not like you need to add chocolate in order to get a chocolate flavor character.
    Not sure where this protection may have come from, still a lot of light lagers following RHG. pat61 has it closer with the RHG protecting wheat and rye from being used in beer.
  29. evilcatfish

    evilcatfish Defender (619) May 11, 2012 Missouri

    Kraftig is pushing Reinheitsgebot as a selling point for its beers....
  30. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,790) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado

    Light colorered lagers...not the variety that is "lightened up" with rice and corn though. Light adjunct lagers aren't brewed in Germany to this day, and the RHG is one of the main reasons why.
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  31. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,477) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    I see what you're saying now, "lightened" up from the use of other grains. But the RHG was more a farmer/baker protection than it was a brewer protection -- just sort of sold as a brewer protection. Politics never change. :wink:
  32. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,790) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado

    True. I'm not saying it's the greatest thing ever or even that it wasn't a front. It just happened to have a happy side effect.
    We'll never really know for sure, but the brewing world could be a very different place without it.
    These days it seems like breweries get around it by claiming that they're selling "flavored beer" like Desperados and such.
    steveh likes this.
  33. Revelation

    Revelation Initiate (0) Oct 13, 2009 Massachusetts

    The RHG does not preclude using other ingredients to brewing. It does prohibit calling drinks brewed in other ways beer. For example, hefeweizen can be brewed but couldn't be called hefeweizenbier or weissbier under the original law. It was a consumer protection law not a brewery limitation law to prevent unscrupulous brewers from selling adjunct laden fake beer. I do seem to recall there was also some sort of tax implications, to make sure the Crown received its fair due as well.

    Same sort of laws we have in the US of calling things beer, ale, or malt beverage... It really doesn't mean the resulting beverage is going to be good - you can still brew crap beer following the RHG.
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  34. Akerstache

    Akerstache Initiate (0) Feb 20, 2015 Germany

    That depends. During certain times the RHG did actually prohibit brewers in Bavaria from using certain ingredients.

    What is currently in place is what prohibits the distribution and naming of beverages as "beer" if they are not in accord with the "Vorläufge Biergesetz" which incorporated parts of the RHG.
  35. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Poo-Bah (1,901) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Read the "11 Reasons the Reinheitsgebot is Bollocks" entry.
  36. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,485) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    When Hudepohl revived the Christian Moerlein brand name in the early 1980s for their all-malt "super-premium" beer (eventually evolving into a line of several different styles of beers - which, in some respects, can be seen as an early "craft" beer from an established, pre-Pro brewery) they claimed on the label that it was "The first American beer to pass the Reinheitsgebot".

    A couple of years later, Hudepohl was annoyed when Stroh revived the Schlitz all-malt Erlanger Beer and began labeling it as "The only American beer being brewed and distributed nationally today that meets the stringent requirements of Reinheitsgebot..." Stroh's excuse was that Hudepohl's CM brand was only available in about 30 states, thus not "nationally" distributed.

    AFAIR, Hudepohl merely named their brand after Christian Moerlein (once among the largest of the Mid-Western "shipping" lager breweries in Pre-Pro US and largest in Cincinnati) and made no claim about it being an original recipe, etc.
  37. Westyn

    Westyn Initiate (0) Feb 12, 2014 Texas

    Most of these kinds of beers in my opinion taste horrible. The only brewery that I've had that does this extremely well is Great Lakes Brewing
  38. Crusader

    Crusader Disciple (364) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    The reinheitsgebot can be used to produce some pretty terrible and tasteless beer, as well as tasty and flavorful beer, depending on the circumstances. In Finland they long had a prohibition against the use of adjuncts, nowadays the macro breweries typically use malt syrup as an adjunct instead of corn or rice but the specs for the macro brands are typically around 10% plato and 4.5% abv, with 10-15IBUs and virtually non-detectable hop flavor and aroma. Pretty much an AAL without the adjuncts. Obviously this is the beer which the market demands from the brewers and it's a beer which is bland, mild and light. The non-use of corn or rice hasn't prevented the beers from turning bland. On the other hand, in Germany there's a great deal of diversity as it pertains to the beer being produced by regional breweries (in certain regions), a diversity which I think any country should be rightfully jealous of. I'm a reinheitsgebot supporter in my own country, I think it was a good thing that Sweden enacted a RHG inspired beer-tax in the early 1900s-1940s, when it was altered due to the war and brought in wide-scale adoption of adjuncts in Swedish brewing, a process which was reversed in the 1980s and onwards (without the help of legislation it should be added) to the point where nowadays pretty much every Swedish macro brand is all malt. I wouldn't advocate for the adoption of a reinheitsgebot type law in each country, but I think it makes sense as a cultural heritage retained by some countries, whilst others maintain a heritage of continuing to brew with adjuncts.
  39. Flashy

    Flashy Zealot (592) Oct 22, 2003 Vermont

    from what I've heard not all German breweries follow Reinheitsgebot
    rather and pinkgrenade like this.
  40. pinkgrenade

    pinkgrenade Initiate (0) Aug 19, 2011 California


    here is the real question: has anyone tried any of these american brews being marketed as RHG beers? Are they anything special or just another shelf turd?
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