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Raise your stein and say prost! This April through August, you can lift a glass to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the German Beer Purity Law, or Reinheitsgebot, the oldest food regulation in the world still in force. Beer, which has often been described as “liquid bread,” is so important to Germans that they celebrate it nationally on April 23 with the Day of German Beer, honoring the enactment of the Reinheitsgebot law on that date in 1516. This 500th anniversary year will have more meaning than usual and brings months of celebrations across Germany, with museum exhibits, spring and summer beer festivals ahead of Oktoberfest, and even beer-themed hikes. So cheers to that!

Related: 7 totally weird ways to get arrested in Europe

Ingolstadt's Neues Schloss (New Castle)

Ingolstadt’s Neues Schloss (New Castle)

Ingolstadt, April 22–24 – The city where the Beer Purity Laws were enacted by Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria calls its annual celebration the Festival of Pure Beer, held in Inglostadt‘s historic town square with its Medieval town hall. This year, Ingolstadt breweries Herrnbrau and Nordbrau offer guided tours, and you can also take a factory tour of another hometown manufacturer, Audi, where local labels are served in a modern cafe. It’s a testament to Ingolstadt’s long history that the Duke lived and signed laws in the Neues Schloss (New Castle), which dates from the 1400s. Now, it’s a museum that includes a sobering collection of Medieval weaponry.

Mannheim

Mannheim | Flickr CC: Victor Bergmann

Mannheim, through July 24 – A special exhibition at the Museum of Work and Technology in Mannheim showcases the production process and the importance of beer in advertising and society. Take a break from beer by visiting the historic trains at the museum, or the ornate Baroque palace and gardens in the center of town.

Munich Town Hall

Munich Town Hall | Photo courtesy of the German National Tourist Office

Munich, July 22-24 – One hundred breweries, more are less, are participating in a huge weekend festival in downtown Munich, around the Field Marshals’ Hall in Odeonsplatz. Concerts feature both traditional Bavarian folk music and more modern big band and rock sounds. As with Oktoberfest, dancing on the tables also is traditional, but don’t try that at the Residenz Palace a few blocks away, the bling-filled home of 18th and 19th century Bavarian rulers. There’s also a Beer and Oktoberfest Museum near the world-famous Hofbrauhaus.

Berlin's Jewish Museum

Berlin’s Jewish Museum | Flickr CC: Ben

Berlin, August 5–7 – The International Berlin Beer Festival focuses on a different country each year, and this year it is the homeland. Berlin‘s event is big enough to get an entry in Guinness World Records for the world’s longest beer garden, around a half-mile along Karl-Marx-Allee. Visit the city’s Jewish Museum before attending the festival, because the Liebeskind architecture is meant to disorient you with its sloping walls and uneven walkways.

Copper Brewing Kettle at the Bamberg Brewery Museum

Copper Brewing Kettle at the Bamberg Brewery Museum | Photo courtesy of Bamberg Brewery Museum

Bamberg, ongoing – One of the largestbeer-producing regions in Germany also has one of the largest beer museums. The Franconian Brewery Museum is housed in a former Benedictine monastery brewery that dates to 1122. Exhibits take you from harvest to tap, including learning why there’s a different shape beer glass for different types of brews. Beer is so central to Bamberg’s history that many local brewpubs have a beer sommelier to guide you to the perfect taste.

Sign in Weissenohe

Sign in Weissenohe |Flickr CC: tian2992

Beer hiking tours – The Five Seidla Trail (seidla is the local slang for a half-liter beer) in southern Franconia wanders through six miles (10km), passing five breweries along the trail in the small towns of Weissenhoe and Grafenberg. There’s public transportation at either end in case you don’t want to walk back to your starting point.

Make mine a helles.

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Tagged: Europe

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Evelyn Kanter

Evelyn Kanter

Evelyn is an NYC-based travel writer who would rather ride a chairlift, river raft or zipline than the subway. She's a regular contributor to major publications, including airline inflights, and has written more than a dozen travel guidebooks. Evelyn's website is www.ecoxplorer.com
Evelyn Kanter

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