The German Beer Purity Law is an absolute must for most German breweries. And it can be found everywhere in the world – even in the Himalayas.
Over the centuries, many Germans have emigrated to other countries or even continents, and some of them have taken their knowledge of old customs, traditions and recipes to the new places. So it is no wonder that many breweries, especially in Canada or in the United States, have names that are of German origin: Haffenreffer, Hudepohl-Schoenling, Schaefer, etc. Some have remained small while others have become world famous.
German beers in the US
In 1857, the German brewer Adolphus Busch settled down in St. Louis. He started brewing real German beer for the young American nation, of course, strictly according to the German Purity Law because quality was Busch’s priority. He got to know another emigraté brewmaster, Eberhard Anheuser, married his daughter, and together they founded a company that would later become the largest brewery in the world.
Over 150 years later, the William K. Busch Brewing Company belongs to Adolphus’ grandson Billy. It still brews according to the German Purity Law. And, by the way, the William K. Busch Company is part of the Anheuser-Busch InBev group, which maintains a market share of 21 percent. Pretty much every known beer brand is under its wing.
The Boston Beer Company also swears by German brewing. It is US’ largest American-owned brewery. In 1984, CEO Jim Koch discovered the beer recipe of his German great-great-grandfather, Louis Koch, in the attic. He tried to recreate the recipe in his kitchen. Then he gave it to friends to try, and continuously worked on improving the recipe until he finally founded the Boston Beer Company and sold his beer.
He called the beverage Samuel Adams Boston Lager and distributed it in Boston on July 4 1985, the American Independence Day. Six weeks later, “Sam Adams” was dubbed the best beer in America.
Along with brewing engineers of the Bavarian Weihenstephan Brewery – the oldest in Germany and the guardian of the Purity Law – Koch explored the possibilities of the modern art of brewing for two years, without violating the old law. The result is the champagne of beers called “Infinium,” a stout with 10-percent alcohol content and a price tag of 22 euros (nearly $25) per liter.
Relic from the German colonial era
In 1897, two German missionaries were murdered in China. It was a welcome excuse for the German Emperor Wilhelm II, who had had a strong interest in China, to send warships to the coastal area of Kiautschou in the Yellow Sea and extort the region. The village of Tsingtao became the center of German colonial rule in China. And of course wherever there are Germans, there is beer. So the first brewery in Tsingtao started its work in 1903 under the name “Germania.”
But it didn’t last long. In 1914, the First World War started, and the Japanese threw the Germans out of the colony. But they kept the brewery and the beer and continued brewing it under the name “Tsingtao,” according to the original recipe. The Chinese eventually took over. The rest is history: “Tsingtao” one of the most famous beers in the world.
Beer nation Brazil?
When you think of Brazil, the first thing that comes to the mind might be refreshing cocktails, like the caipirinha. But even here, the German brewing has made an impact.The German Louis Books emigrated from Wiesbaden to Sao Paolo in 1885 and founded the Antarctica Brewery. Almost simultaneously, the Swiss immigrant Joseph Villiger started brewing the first Brahma. Also in Brazil – in Blumenau, the city with the most German influence – beer is brewed according to the German Purity Law. At least that’s what the ads say. The Eisenbahn brewery now has more than 15 types of beer and is one of the most successful Brazilian beer producers. They don’t follow the Purity Law as strictly as in the past, but that doesn’t seem to bother Brazilian beer drinkers. At least the names on the labels are still very German: Dunkel, Weizenbock, Lust and Kölsch.
Kölsch on Mount Everest
The top-fermented beer from Cologne is sometimes ridiculed by other brewers and beer fans because it is typically served slender 200 milliliter glasses. But the fine, slightly smoky flavor is popular all over the world – especially in Canada. The Mt. Begbie brewery offers a High Country Kölsch – and even writes the name with the German letter “ö.” The beer is advertised as a light summer beer: “It is brewed with original ‘Kölschbier’ yeast. The yeast, combined with wheat malt, gives the beer its incomparable, delicate character.”
The claim would drive every Kölsch brewer crazy. According to the German Purity Law, wheat is not allowed in beer.
But many successful brewers don’t care about the German Beer Purity Law. And the fact that Kölsch may only be called Kölsch if it’s brewed in Cologne doesn’t seem to interest manufacturers abroad – especially if they’re located as far away as the Himalayas.
The independent Sherpa Brewery in Khumbu, at the foot of Mount Everest, calls its specialty beer “Khumbu Kölsch.”