You might have spotted a new Windhoek advertising campaign over the past week. The Namibian brewery launched a somewhat tongue-in-cheek string of ads playing on their Reinheitsgebot policy – that is, brewing using the ingredients laid out by the 1516 German beer purity law – malt, hops and water (yeast hadn’t been discovered back then).
The campaign, which includes the “beeriodic table” of ingredients that Windhoek frowns upon (I have to give props for use of the word “beeriodic”, btw) is clearly aimed at certain large breweries who tend to use adjuncts like maize and rice in their brews. But it also took a sideways dig at craft beer and certain classic Belgian styles – coriander made it onto the ‘do not use’ list, as did oak chips (sorry Innis & Gunn) and whale testicles, in a cheeky nod to Iceland’s Stedji Brewery. I had to google the use of frankincense and myrrh in a beer (actually, I had to google what frankincense and myrhh are, other than archaic gifts for newborn deities) and I’m happy to say I haven’t yet encountered a brew flavoured with garlic (Dogfish Head have dabbled, if you’re interested).
Personally I’m not against certain additions – serrano peppers for example, would probably be rather awesome, and I love a good witbier – coriander and all. I think craft beer is all about variety and when special ingredients are used to enhance and add flavour (rather than to cut corners and keep costs down), I’m all for it. The idea of using colourants in a beer is a weird one – surely that’s what malt is for?
So what do you think? Does real beer only have three ingredients (plus yeast of course)? Are there some things on the beeriodic table that are never acceptable? Or do you not care what’s in your beer as long as it tastes OK?