During our tour of Munich today, Ozzie shared with us some interesting if alarming facts about beer and Bavaria. Bavaria is officially the beer capital of the world: not just by reputation, but also by the irrefutable weight of statistics. Have a look at some of these hair-raising facts, and you'll see what I mean.
- There are over 1,500 beers brewed in the State of Bavaria. That's more than in any other region (or country) in the world (it even slaughters Belgium's 500+ beers claim, which ain't small fry either).
- The average German drinks 0.5L of beer each day. In contrast, the average Bavarian drinks 1.5L of beer each day.. They quite literally have beer for breakfast, lunch and tea (and corresponding preferred brews for these different times of the day).
- In contrast with virtually everywhere else in the world, beer is legally classified as "food" in Bavaria. This makes it exempt from sales tax (under the "essential food products" exemption), and means that beer-drinking has a lower age limit than does other alcohol (in practice, of course, there's no age limit at all in Bavaria).
- You are legally entitled to drink up to 0.5L of beer when at work in Bavaria. As such, most employers keep their staff fridges well-stocked with beer: they figure that everyone's going to (and entitled to) drink anyway; so if they remove the need for their staff to go to the pub for a beer, then they'll lose less working hours each day.
Bavaria also has numerous laws relating to the production of beer. In particular, according to the Reinheitsgebot ("Bavarian Purity Law") of 1516, all beer that's brewed in Bavaria is legally required to have only barley, hops and water (yeast was later added) as its ingredients (in accordance with centuries-old tradition). Most of these and other beer-related laws have been in place in Bavaria, and have remained virtually unchanged, for just as long a period. So not only is beer-drinking enormous in Bavaria: it's also a centuries-old tradition, a legally-sanctioned activity, and an inextricable part of the local culture (and even religion). If you want to spend every day for the rest of your life drinking a different amazing local beer, and still not exhaust the possibilities, then Bavaria is for you.