German brewers point to dangers of fracking

German brewers say that fracking endangers the purity of their country’s beer.

They have urged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to block the tapping of shale gas by means of hydraulic fracturing (known as fracking). The Association of German Breweries said current proposals related to fracking are inadequate to protect drinking water.

“We are concerned that fracking endangers the brewing water that more than half of Germany’s breweries take from private wells,” Marc-Oliver Huhnholz, a spokesman for the group, told Bloomburg. “And that it threatens our absolutely pure beer.” The association has sent a letter voicing its concerns to six Cabinet ministers including Environment Minister Peter Altmaier, he said.

Merkel has agreed on draft legislation in her coalition that would outlaw fracking in some areas. It remains unclear whether a law can be passed before the election, Altmaier said.

Germany’s brewers point to what they say is the oldest food-safety regulation in the world to justify their concerns about fracking. The Reinheitsgebot was drafted in April 1516 at the instigation of Duke Wilhelm IV in the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt. The law states that only malted barley, hops and water may go into beer, with the later addition of yeast, which had not yet been discovered at the time.