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Brewery Unveils ‘Anti-Aging’ Beer

DW Staff (dsl)January 15, 2004

Mixing malt with ingredients best-known by day spa and health food store-goers, a small brewery in eastern Germany is seeking to create a healthy new reputation for the country’s traditional drink.

Bottoms up for good healthImage: dpa zb

Beer is generally a drink associated with expanding bellies and a turbo-charged aging process. It's long been a forbidden word for health-conscious drinkers, playing a very distant second to wine. But a brewery in the eastern German state of Brandenburg is hoping to change that with a new beer that claims to provide a fountain of youth for its drinkers. And that could bring a sigh of relief for suds lovers with a mind for their body.

Klosterbrauerei Neuzelle in the small town of Neuzelle on the German-Polish border will this week unveil a new "Anti-Aging Beer" that combines tasty malt with some wellness world favorites, including the wonder algae spirulina. The brewery’s CEO, Helmut Fritsche, plans to introduce the new brew at this week’s Green Week food industry fair in Berlin and hopes to place it on store shelves by March.

"When people drink beer, why shouldn’t they be able to drink a healthy beer," Fritsche recently told the Märkische Oderzeitung newspaper.

A bottle a day keeps cancer away?

The brew’s main ingredients are thermal brine water from the nearby health resort Bad Saarow, as well as spirulina, an algae, and flavonoide, a plant extract commonly used in anti-wrinkle creams. Flavonoides are also known to protect against arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure and cancer.

Spirulina, with more than 100 nutrients including beta carotene, chlorophyll, Vitamin B12, has been described as one of the healthiest foods. Meanwhile, brine water aids in digestion and maintaining metabolism and healthy blood pressure as well as helping the body rid itself of heavy metals and toxins like quicksilver, lead, arsenic, amalgam or even chalk build-up.

Anti Aging Bier aus Neuzelle
A bottle keeps cancer away?Image: dpa zb

But it is still beer, and too much of it could undo the fountain of youth effect and, worse, bring on a nasty hangover. Fritsche warns that moderation is essential when drinking his "Anti-Aging" beer. After all, each bottle does contain 4.8 percent alcohol.

Trouble in wellness land

The drink's alcohol level isn't the only problem Fritsche faces in convincing potential beer buyers. Because the sudsy mix doesn’t jibe with the German purity law of 1516, the company won’t be able to sell it as beer in this country.

Hops, malt, yeast and water are the only beer ingredients allowed under Germany's purity law.Image: Bilderbox

The purity law, first created to protect the reputation and quality of the German beer market, is one of the world’s oldest food regulations. The law holds that beverages labeled "beer" may only contain hops, malt, yeast and water.

"I’ve applied for a special permit to be able to call ‘Anti-Aging Beer’ a beer," Fritsche told the paper. If his application is rejected, he is threatening to take his case to court – even as far as Germany’s highest court if he has to.

Fritsche has a colorful history of challenging Germany’s beer purity laws. He is currently battling in an administrative court in Frankfurt (Oder) over whether or not he should be given the right to apply the beer label to a dark beer his Klosterbrauerei brews with sugar – a taboo ingredient under the ancient purity law. Fritsche, whose brewery also offers a cherry-flavored beer, has argued that his concoction should be exempted as a regional specialty.

But what about Fritsche’s anti-aging elixir? The malty tasting drink contains none of the chemicals the purity law seeks to keep out of the bottle. And, he believes, good health and naturalness should be given deference over a regulation written back in the Middle Ages.