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German beer is an important part of German culture. There are about 1,300 breweries in Germany – more than in any other country – and German beer has an excellent reputation for quality.
The German beer market has been rather sheltered from the rest of the world because of the German Reinheitsgebot (purity) regulation, which dates back to 1516. This dictates that the only ingredients allowed in beer are water, hops and barley-malt. After its discovery, yeast became the fourth legal ingredient and sugar is also permitted for top-fermented beers. Many breweries worldwide have adopted the Reinheitsgebot for their own beers. It is still compulsory for German brewers, but has not applied to imported beer since 1988.
Carlsberg brands have been exported to Germany for decades, so it was natural for the Carlsberg Group to gain a foothold in the country. In 1988 Carlsberg took over Hannen-Brauerei, which was an “Alt-Bier” brewery in Mönchengladbach, and in 2004 we acquired one of Germany’s leading breweries – Holsten-Brauerei in Hamburg.
The history of Holsten-Brauerei is closely associated with that of Hamburg and Altona, where the brewery was founded in 1879. From its early days, the brewery has been an active player in licensed production, both in other European countries and in Africa and China.