deutsche Sprache

The Themes of the National Exhibition

One beverage, beer, is a highly distinctive feature not only of the Free State of Bavaria but of the Bavarians themselves. People happily refer to beer as "Bavaria's fifth element". It is seen as the epitome of the Bavarian way of life, and as a national drink it has gained mythical proportions as the 'symbol' of the Free State.

On April 23, 1516 the Bavarian Duke Wilhelm IV promulgated a law that determined the contents of the local beer. Henceforth it was only allowed to contain water, barley and hops.

Dieses so genannte Reinheitsgebot, wonach zum Brauen von Bier lediglich Gerste, Hopfen und Wasser Verwendung finden dürfen, gilt als ältestes noch in Kraft befindliches Lebensmittelgesetz. Es wurde zu einem weltbekannten Qualitätszeichen, 1906 wurde es sogar deutschlandweit rechtsverbindlich.

This so-called Purity Law, or Reinheitsgebot, with its insistence on barley, hops and water as the only ingredients used for brewing beer, is the oldest piece of food legislation still in existence. It has become a world-renowned mark of quality, and in 1906 it was even legally binding right across Germany.

To mark the 500th anniversary of the Bavarian Purity Law in 2016, the State Exhibition is dedicated to the theme "Beer in Bavaria", and its cultural, social, economic and historical significance.

The immense variety of beer styles and their regional differences – in consumption, for instance (e.g. wheat beer in Southern Bavaria), brewing method (e.g. Franconian smoked beer, Zoigl), or places of conviviality such as Bavarian beer halls or major beer festivals (e.g. the Munich Oktoberfest, the Erlanger Bergkirchweih) – all distinctively shape the way Bavaria sees itself as well as its image in the eyes of others. Closely connected to this perception of Bavaria is the idea of beer being drunk in massive quantities – most especially from the famously large and traditional Bavarian drinking vessel known as the Maßkrug. Beer does indeed seem to be an integral part of the Bavarian lifestyle and the state's sunny outlook on life, and the beer purity law has long been a key component of the state's classic advertising. A critical look at alcohol and the stupor it induces is also essential, however.

In the former abbey of Aldersbach, old facilities that still survive today such as the kiln, the "Sau", the brew kettle, grist mill and brewery all help to bring the brewing process of former days back to life for the State Exhibition. Developments in the brewing industry and the latest trends are presented, and we also see how the production process has changed, with groundbreaking technical innovations, beer entrepreneurs, the gradual decline in the number of breweries in Germany (especially since the First World War), familiar as well as more unusual advertising media, and also entirely new "professions", such as that of beer sommelier.

The Bavarian tavern is not only the epitome of Bavarian hospitality, it continues to be the place of communication and recreational pleasure it has always been. This kind of pub is far more than a place to drink, flirt and play, it feels like a real "home from home".

The "Beer Celebrities and Beer Treasures" section presents personalities connected with the history of Bavarian beer. In around 1878, for instance, the Munich waitress Coletta Möritz posed for the artist Friedrich August von Kaulbach – and the jaunty "Schützenliesl" portrait that resulted from this has been copied countless times. Another legendary figure was Joseph Groll from Vilshofen. In 1842 he introduced the typically Bavarian lager brewing process to Pilsen, and thus became one of the fathers of Pilsener beer.

Everyday objects, technical exhibits and models, cultural and historical objects, works of art as well as special active, tactile and olfactory stations appealing to the senses are all part of the exhibition, inviting children and adults alike to immerse themselves in the exciting history of Bavarian beer.


  • Bavaria – the beer state?
  • Beer Purity Law, monopoly, riot
  • Beer tables and bowling alleys
  • Master brewers, pioneers and sudden brainwaves
  • Beer celebrities and beer treasures
  • Beer and Bavaria