German Beer steins are traditional stoneware beer mugs. They are beautifully ornamented and usually sold as collectibles or souvenirs. The word stein is derived from the German word “Steingut” which means stoneware.
The Government had enacted a law to prevent the great black/bubonic plague from recurring which had hit Europe in 14th century. This law stated that all beverage containers must be covered when the drink is not being consumed. The German beer glasses were a creation which came out of the necessity put forward by this law. Traditionally, these steins were made of stoneware and the lid was made of pewter. Glass started to be used for making steins thereafter.
German beer steins are mostly given as gifts. However, the history of gifting goes back to 15th century when a father gifted steins to their sons when they came of age.
Owning a German beer glass was considered a status symbol as they were handcrafted and mostly custom made. Customization allowed the family crest to be embossed on these steins thus making it a pride possession. The significance of these steins was measured by the man who owns it and the group he belongs to.
Most of the beer steins are made of stoneware or porcelain; however you can also find glass steins being produced.
The artist starts with a template of clay carefully carving beautiful designs out of it. Rubber molds are used to duplicate the designs and models. The gypsum mold are dried and then mounted on a centrifuge. This is when creation of actual stein starts. Centrifugal force makes the clay move to all nooks and crannies of the mold creating uniform coverage. Glazing of stein is done after centrifuge has finished his job.
Making of lid starts after completing the stein.
These beer glasses were used before the first Oktoberfest in 1810; however these steins have now become an integral part of this annual festival. Many stein manufacturers make special edition steins for this fest.
Traditionally this event is held in Munich, Germany. These steins typically hold 1 liter of beer, are hand painted and cost close to $100. Most of these steins are limited edition. A great variety of beer and beer Steins finds its way in every Oktoberfest.
If you are hunting for authentic steins, you may notice that the market contains a number of Chinese and Taiwanese imitations. Remember that an original German made stein is always distinguished with its traditional designs and with its distinct lid. Make sure you pursue significant research to identify an authenticate stein before you make your purchase.
by Marina Chernyak