German beers are world famous and synonymous with pure ingredients and good taste.

The country’s 500-year-old beer purity law, the so-called Reinheitsgebot, says a beer should be made of malted grains, water, hops, and nothing else, if it is to be labelled as “beer”. Beers brewed according to the Reinheitsgebot are a protected traditional foodstuff under EU law.

These factors provide strong brand recognition for German beers, but make it difficult to innovate with recipes or the brewing process.

“German brewers are very traditional and use the Reinheitsgebot as a successful marketing tool to differentiate their beer,” says Romeo Markovic, Industry Sales Manager for Grain & Beverages at Novozymes. “However, they also need to comply with the demands of today’s world when it comes to cost, efficiency and sustainability.”

A different approach

As the Reinheitsgebot excludes use of enzymes in German beer production, Novozymes focuses on improving the beer sterilization process, which removes unwanted microorganisms from beer.

Working with a filtration equipment producer in Germany, Novozymes has developed a technology whereby enzymes can be added directly on to the filters used in cold sterile filtration. This binds and removes pollutants, while saving producers energy and cost. The new improved filters can be used multiple times.

“Using enzymes to filter beer is done separately from the brewing stream itself. This complies with the rules in the Reinheitsgebot,” Romeo explains. “It’s an innovation that helps brewers become more sustainable and save on expenses. This innovation can transform and optimize the way beer is produced in very traditional markets.”

In traditional filtration processes, microorganisms are filtered out of beer using energy-intensive heating or cooling methods such as pasteurization or cold sterile filtration, and the filters can only be used a few times.

Learn more about Novozymes’ brewing solutions.

About the Reinheitsgebot

• Passed by Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria in 1516 to protect beer drinkers from high prices, ban the use of wheat in beer to keep grain prices low for bakers, and stop brewers from adding suspicious ingredients.

• Today, the law allows inclusion of yeast and wheat, but only beers produced according to the Reinheitsgebot may be labelled “beer”, or “bier” in German.

• EU law states that beers brewed elsewhere not in accordance with the Reinheitsgebot can be sold in Germany.

Words: Anni Nikogosian, Devapriyo Das