Germany celebrates this year the 500th anniversary of the Reinheitsgebot, the Beer Purity Law which restricts the ingredients of beer to water, malt and hops. After its discovery, yeast became the fourth legal ingredient. The Beer Purity Law is considered the oldest food-quality regulation in the world.
Just recently Dr. Johannes Lang a Bavarian historian discovered an older and slightly different version of this law which was issued in 1493, 23 years before the official regulation for the city of Reichenhall. Reichenhall, nowadays called Bad Reichenhall is a small city in the south-east of Bavaria close to the Austrian border which is known for its brine and medicinal baths and the salt, which comes from local mines and salt-works and is sold nationwide.
On February 7, 1493 Georg von Bayern-Landshut, referred to as the Rich, last Duke of Bavaria-Landshut, enacted a decree for the city of Reichenhall which not only restricted the ingredients for beer but also imposed rigorous quality checks and ruled beer tax and beer price in the city.
The Reichenhall Reinheitsgebot is not the only predecessor of the famous Bavarian Reinheitsgebot from 1516. Earlier versions include the decrees of cities like Augsburg (1156), Nürnberg (1293), Weimar (1348), Munich (1363, 1447 and 1487) and Weißensee (1434).
The now discovered Reichenhall version is part of the first statewide regulation which was imposed on the whole territory of the Duchy of Bavaria-Landshut and seems to be adopted by individual city councils like Reichenhall’s.