This question was recently submitted by a reader, and to tell you the truth I did not know much about the formaldehyde in beer issue. My initial reaction was "of course there is not formaldehyde in beer", but as I dug deeper into the research I began to grow concerned.
Now when I hear "formaldehyde" I think of preserving corpses… not exactly getting me in the mood for a cold one. So to start off I figured a definition of formaldehyde was in order:
Steam Beer – History
The steam beer, or California Common, is an American original and was first produced in California during the gold rush (late 19th Century). The style of beer is very much tied to the west coast and in particular San Francisco.
At its height, this style of beer was brewed by as many as 27 different breweries in California. Today, “steam beer” is a trademarked term, and can only be brewed under that name by Anchor Steam Brewing Co. in San Francisco, CA. Other brewers now use the name “California Common” for this style.
Well, the first step is to learn how to say Reinheitsgebot…. “Rine-Hites-gaBoat” is the best pronunciation I could find. Of course some native German speaker will probably correct this, but its pretty darn close. So now that we can pronounce the word, lets get into what its all about.
The Reinheitsgebot, or “German Purity Law” as many call it, literally translates to “purity law” or “cleanliness law”. An early version of the law was proposed in 1487, but the version most speak of today originated in the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt on April 23, 1516. Introduced by Duke Wilhelm IV, the original intent of the law was three fold:
This is one of those great beer conversations where everyone has an opinion and there doesn’t seem to be a clear provable conclusion.
There are several different versions of this legend which we have been able to discover. We have listed these below in reverse order of likelihood (from least likely to most likely) according to our extensive research and our best guess (not quite throwing darts at a list of possibilities, but close).
Rolling Rock “33” Theories
There were exactly 33 steps from the brewmaster’s office to the brewing floor.