Could German beer brewers be the latest to fall under the Unesco “intangible heritage

When we think of Unesco heritage listings, the Acropolis in Athens or Australia’s Great Barrier Reef are the sort of archaeological or natural gems that first spring to mind. However, the United Nations' cultural agency also has a lesser known List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding – and German beer brewers are the latest to vie for a spot on it.

They want their beer purity law, or Reinheitsgebot law, which only allows water, barley malt, hops and yeast in the brewing process to be recognised as a piece of "intangible heritage” – and after being in practise for five centuries it would seem that there is no doubt that it is a part of Germany’s Heritage.

"If Germany is still regarded as the undisputed beer nation, that is due to the Reinheitsgebot," said Hans-Georg Eils, president of the German Brewers' Federation. Mr Eils goes on to argue that the Reinheitsgebot law, which was first introduced in 1516 in Bavaria and adopted across the nation in 1906, was the oldest regulation on food and beverage in the world.

Germany is the largest beer producer in Europe and also plays host to the world's biggest beer festival, the Oktoberfest. The 16-day event, which started in 1810, attracts a staggering 6.4 million visitors each year. Currently featuring on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding for 2013 is the Chovqan, a traditional Karabakh horse-riding game in the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mongolian Calligraphy, the Paach ceremony of Guatemala and the Empaako tradition of the Batooro, Banyoro, Batuku, Batagwenda and Banyabindi of western Uganda.

The representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity includes some food and drink items such as the Ancient Georgian traditional Qvevri wine-making method and the Mediterranean diet. Explaining the significance of the list Unesco says the following on its website: “The List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding is composed of intangible heritage elements that concerned communities and States Parties consider require urgent measures to keep them alive. Inscriptions on this List help to mobilize international cooperation and assistance for stakeholders to undertake appropriate safeguarding measures.”

If you are planning to head to Germany or any other country for a break it is important to organise travel insurance in advance.

Date Created: 05 December 2013

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