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German brewers target world heritage status

German brewers want their famous 500-year-old beer purity laws to be given a worldwide seal of approval with a world heritage status.

The German Brewers’ Federation said it has applied to Unesco, the United Nations’ cultural agency, to have the purity law – the “Reinheitsgebot” – recognised as a piece of the world’s “intangible heritage.”

The purity law dates back to 1516 and allows nothing but water, barley malt, hops and yeast for brewing. Germany boasts around 1,300 breweries and 5,000 different beers.

The federation’s president Hans-Georg Eils said: “If Germany is still regarded as the undisputed beer nation, that is due to the Reinheitsgebot.”

If it wins a place on the Unesco list, the purity law will find itself in diverse company that includes the Argentine tango, the Spanish flamenco, the French gastronomic meal and Turkey’s Kirkpinar oil-wrestling festival.

The first stage of the application to the heritage list was passed by the Bavarian Ministry of Culture last week and it is estimated that the whole process can take around two years. The German Brewer’s Federation hopes that the status will be granted in time for the 500th anniversary of the purity laws, in 2016.

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