December 13, 2013 by Prost Brewing
Originally the word “stein” was used as the shortened version of the German word “Steinzeukrug,” a word that translates to a stoneware jug or tankard. As stoneware was the most obtainable medium for making a mug way back in the 14th century, the name “stein” actually translates to “stone.” Today “stein” has diversified in meaning coming to refer to any beer container with a hinged lid and handle. This includes those made of glass, pewter, silver, and even porcelain.
“Why the lid?” you might be asking. The lid supposedly originated in Germany around the time of the bubonic plague in the 14th century. After the bubonic plague, also known as Black Death, had killed more than 25 million Europeans, the Germans were keen on taking all sanitary measures that might aid in warding off further disease. The lid served as an important addition to the beer mug, keeping those pesky files who harbored the disease out of their tasty beer. In fact, the mug with a lid was so essential to every German’s daily routine that in the early 1500s laws were passed in Germany requiring that all food and beverage containers be covered.
Since the Germans are always ingenious when it comes to anything related to their beer, they created a lid that could be opened with one hand, with the simple downward motion of one’s thumb. As the mugs with lids became rather commonplace, people began to add decorations of shields along with historical and allegorical scenes to personalize their mugs, creating a drinking vessel they could uphold and proudly “Prost!” with.
Now, centuries later, beer steins are not so essential for warding off disease (thankfully!), but serve as an important piece of any serious German beer drinker’s repertoire. If you find yourself reading this saying, “But I don’t have a beer stein!” then maybe you need to add a stein onto this year’s holiday wish list before it’s too late! Best of all, you can bring your beer stein into Prost Brewing in the New Year where it will serve not just as a treasure you showcase on the wall but as a real drinking vessel. Filled with a little bit of one of Prost’s traditional German biers and enjoyed in Prost’s authentic German beer hall, your beer stein will serve as a fitting final edition to your authentic German beer drinking experience.