The German “Reinheitsgebot” (purity law) is a complicated matter. Although it is watched as a great historical achievement of German beer history by the average beer drinker in Germany, it is on the other hand a subject of heavy criticism in recent times. The Reinheitsgebot appears not to be quite up to date, especially when it comes to innovative Craft Beer specialties.
Personally, I would really like to see a greater variety of beers, which are allowed to be sold under that name, therefor I do support a change or easing of the law. But strictly speaking, one must also keep in mind that this year 500 years-old Reinheitsgebot is more illusion than reality. Legally, there is no regulation of that name in Germany but a number of other ones with beautiful names like Bierverordnung von 1990 (BierV) (engl.: beer regulation) or Biersteuergesetz BierStG (engl. Beer tax acet). There has never been a continuous Reinheitsgebot for 500 years, modern regulations do only concern only the end product of the brewing process. Even the name “Reinheitsgebot” was first mentioned in 1918 and was retrospectively given to the old regulation from 1516.
In fact, during that process all kinds of ingredients are allowed that only have to be filtered out in the end. That has not much to do with the historical Reinheitsgebot from 1516. Whether that makes for example asbestos a more delicious ingredient in a beer, everyone has to decide on her or his own. Since it is completely filetered out in the end (except homeopathic doses) there is no real danger. But of course such an example reveals what the “500 years old tradition” of the Reinheitsgebot really is: a marketing strategy or gag.
When the craft beer-wave reached Germany, more and more brewers started to rely on the technology of dry hopping: The already cold, maturing beer is infused with dry hops, so an even more intensive hop flavor can be achieved. Fruity, astringent and bitter notes are added to the finished beer. There was a long debate whether even this simple practice is in accord with the Reinheitsgebot. By now the decision was made: Dry hopped beers that were produced in Germany are allowed to be sold as beer. Hallelujah!
This technology is also applied in today’s Bergmann Hopfensünde (engl.: hop sin). About the Bergmann brewery I have already written a few lines in the context of an article about their awesome Adambier, therefore I will directly talk about the product today.
During the brewing process of “Hopfensünde”, Hallertauer aroma hops are added to the young beer in the tradition of dry hopping. The manufacturer compares the taste of the resulting beer with a red IPA, an assessment I can agree to. The beer is bottled with considerable 7.2% vol. and a 0.75-bottle costs around 10 euros.
On the nose you can immediately scent intense hops which rivals that of strong IPAs. Fine notes of citrus and tropical fruits form a familiar profile. On the palate the expectations are confirmed with quite intensely aromatic hop tones. Bitter, complex, fruity, yet also on the malty side. A beer as I really like to drink it!
Buying sources: I’m not really sure about the export agenda of the Bergmann brewery, but outside of Germany and especially the Ruhr Area you might get some problems finding Bergmann Beer.