FIRST AIRED: December 6, 2016

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>> Think of German beer and you probably think of this. Jugs of the stuff being downed at a festival but some would say the content of those glasses is all a bit seamy. In Cologne, I'm Reuters reporter Julian Satterthwaite. At this time of year, Germany might be all about mulled wine and Christmas markets, but this is really beer country and the rules about what you can put into beer are very strict.
Essentially, water, hops, malt, yeast. Anything else, forget it. The country's strict beer purity laws, or Reinheitsgebot, this year celebrate their 500th anniversary. But some beer makers think it's time Germany loosened up. Sebastian Sauer is one, he runs Freigeist Bierkultur, a small brewery turning out all sorts of craft beers.
>> There's so many more options which you can use, and a lot of natural ingredients, which always have been around and part of brewing for as long as beer exists, pretty much. And this is like a artificial restriction which is pretty much limiting the creativity we have.>> Sauer wants the purity laws made voluntary, but the country's Brewing Association isn't convinced.
It says polls show 85% of Germans still support the Reinheitsgebot and it says there is no problem with creativity.>> We have, at the moment, 250 different types of hops, so bitter hops and aromatic hops, and we have at least more than 200 different yeast strains. So by combining them we have much, much more than one million different ways of brewing different types of beers.
>> Even rebel brewers like Sauer agree that Germany has good quality beer. That and relatively low prices may have stifled demand for change as much as any law. But like anything five centuries old, the Reinheitsgebot is under pressure to change with the times.