Germany's medieval beer purity law may soon be classed alongside Angkor Wat and the Pyramids at Giza.

German brewers this week applied for UNESCO World Heritage status for the beer production law that was first enforced in Bavaria in 1516. It is expected the application process will take two years, allowing the purity law to be approved by UNESCO on its 500th anniversary.

The German Brewers Federation, one of the groups behind the application, said the law deserves to be included alongside the world's top cultural icons. It said: “If Germany is still regarded as the undisputed beer nation, then this is due to the purity law. It guarantees purity, quality and wholesomeness of beers produced according to this specification.”

The purity law, known in Germany as Reinheitsgebot, states that only water, malt, hops and yeast can be used for beer production. It became law Germany-wide in 1906 and, despite changes in 1993, is the oldest, still-valid food regulation in the world.

For a just-drinks comment on the future of the Reinheitsgebot, click here.