Archive for December, 2011

History of Beer Mugs and Beer Steins

December 22nd, 2011

Beer has been around for over 6000 years. People had been drinking it out of variations of: clay, wood, leather and pewter mugs, or drinking sacks. Around the 14th century, after the plague killed over 25 million people throughout Europe, the beer mug evolution began. Swarms of flies infested Europe and as a result sanitation laws were put into place.

As a method of keeping flies away from food and drink a law was implemented and enforced which stated: All food and drink had to be covered to protect the public’s health. From this point forward quality of food and drink increased, and the manufacturing of beer mugs with lids, Beer Steins, led to the evolution of beer mugs.
With a new awareness to cleanliness, people were driven towards personal drinking vessels. The majority could not afford pewter, silver, or glass. Instead, they bought steins made of wood or stoneware.

A Beer Stein Is Raised by a Member of the Concord Singers, a Group Which Sings German Songs in New Ulm, Minnesota. They Are Trying to Keep the Town's Heritage Alive. Twenty Years Ago Many of the Residents Spoke Some German, But the Tradition Is Dying Out.

The downside to using wooden mugs had always been that the wood absorbed the liquids, creating a terrible smell, and weakening the wood with every use.

Scandinavians and Germans worked to design durable wooden steins. The Scandinavians perfected it and developed steins made completely out of wood, including its hinge and lid. The wooden steins produced in Germany, had pewter incorporated in the design, lid, hinge, and decor.

Similar to wood, the clay-like material used before the 1400’s would absorb liquids leaving a rank stench after multiple uses. The clay material was fragile; these mugs would break quite easily. As a result this material was researched, tested at different temperatures until they discovered that they could vitrify the material, creating stoneware.

To add appeal to the beer steins, manufacturers hired artists to decorate the mugs with local folk art, historical and biblical scenes.

By the end of the 18th century, the restrictions on covered food and drink were eased. Eventually this led to the manufacturing of beer mugs without lids.

Beer mugs were most commonly made of glass. The fluted beer mug was developed around 1928, and became popular with breweries for about 20 years.

A transition occurred when dimpled beer mugs were manufactured around 1948. It was said that they complimented the beers aesthetically and were not as fragile. It provided a visually appealing vessel for all types of beers. They were however mainly used for the dark bitter beers, as during this time period, the bitter stouts were becoming a popular choice. By approximately 1964, the dimpled beer mug had replaced the use of the fluted beer mug.

Over time, manufacturers moved away from producing steins, producing the beer mugs and glasses found in use today.

Today beer mugs are available in plastic as well.

But just like in olden times, people like having their own personalized beer mug. Click here for a wide selection of personalized beer mugs and steins.