Beer Steins, Beer Tankards & Beer Mugs
Stoneware or fired clay beer steins present a warm and traditional look and blend well with most home decors and furnishings. The term stein, in German, means stone. Early steins were stoneware, which is Steinzeug in German. American lingo shortened it to stein.
To be classified correctly as a beer stein, a vessel must have a handle, a lid and a thumblift. Drinking vessels without a lid are properly called a beer mug. A tankard is a large drinking cup having a single handle and often a hinged cover, especially a tall pewter or silver mug. Most people use the term beer mug, beer stein and tankard interchangeably. The pewter lids came into use centuries ago, when it was thought that bubonic plague was transmitted by flies. The lids were to keep flies out of the steins. Also, from a practical standpoint, the taste of beer changes with exposure to air and lids limit the exposure.
Most steins are made of porcelain, but some are stoneware and others are pottery, glass, silver and pewter. Most high-quality, collectible steins are from Germany. http://www.steincollectors.org/
The word stein is a shortened form of Steinzeugkrug, which is German for stoneware jug or tankard. By common usage, however, stein has come to mean any beer container - regardless of its material or size - that has a hinged lid and a handle. A tankard would be more technically appropriate than stein, but these two words are used interchangeably. Be aware that some reserve the word tankard for the all-pewter or all-silver varieties of steins. A mug is universally used as the name for those vessels that have handles but would never have had a lid. http://www.beerstein.net/articles/bsb-1.htm
For beer stein collectors, the 1990's may well be remembered as the decade that saw two of the oldest and most venerable steinmakers close their doors forever.
The first was Marzi and Remy, founded in 1879 and surviving until 1994, at which point much of what remained of the company fell into the hands of the firm of S.P. Gerz - then Germany’s largest beer stein producer.
Not long thereafter, Gerz too succumbed to the pressures of an increasingly competitive marketplace, ceasing operations in 1999 and ending a steinmaking tradition that had spanned more than a century and a quarter.
Steins originated in the 14th century. As a result of the bubonic plague and several invasions of flies in Europe, Germany established laws to require beverage containers to be covered for sanitary purposes. Around the same time, techniques to improve earthenware by raising the firing temperature of clay, created stoneware. Thus, there was a presence of stoneware drinking vessels with attached pewter lids for the next 300 years.
By the end of the 19th century, the stein was clearly defined as being made in Europe, primarily of stoneware and primarily with a permanently attached pewter lid. The history of steins includes the development and presentation of steins made with different materials.
Pewter was the material of choice for beer steins in some areas of Europe, especially England. Glass, porcelain and silver steins were introduced several hundred years ago. Many stein-decorating styles and techniques were developed over the centuries, offering further diversity to the stein.
In recent times, the stein and tankard industry remained primarily represented by factories in Germany and England, where skilled craftsmen continue to create steins. However, during the 1980's, Ceramarte, of Brazil, became the largest producer of beer steins in the world. http://www.steincenter.com/history.shtm
Oktoberfest is a 16–18 day festival held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, running from late September to the first weekend in October. It is one of the most famous events in Germany and is the world's largest fair, with more than 5 million people attending every year. The Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture, having been held since 1810. Other cities across the world also hold Oktoberfest celebrations, modeled after the Munich event.
The Munich Oktoberfest originally took place during the sixteen days up to and including the first Sunday in October. In 1994, the schedule was modified in response to German reunification so that if the first Sunday in October falls on the 1st or 2nd, then the festival would go on until October 3 (German Unity Day). Thus, the festival is now 17 days when the first Sunday is October 2 and 18 days when it is October 1. In 2010, the festival lasted until the first Monday in October, to mark the 200-year anniversary of the event. The festival is held in an area named the Theresienwiese (field, or meadow, of Therese), often called Wiesn for short, located near Munich's center.
Only beer which is brewed within the city limits of Munich is allowed to be served in this festival. Upon passing this criteria, a beer is designated Oktoberfest Beer. Oktoberfest Beer is a registered Trademark by the Club of Munich Brewers. Those Breweries are members of this exclusive Club. In alphabetical Order -Augustinerbräu -Hacker-Pschorr Bräu -Hofbräu -Löwenbräu -Paulanerbräu -Spatenbräu
Large quantities of German beer are consumed, with almost 7 million liters served during the 16 day festival in 2007. Visitors may also enjoy a wide variety of traditional fare such as Hendl (chicken), Schweinebraten (roast pork), Schweinshaxe (grilled ham hock), Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick), Würstl (sausages) along with Brezn (Pretzel), Knödel (potato or bread dumplings), Kasspatzn (cheese noodles), Reiberdatschi (potato pancakes), Sauerkraut or Blaukraut (red cabbage) along with such Bavarian delicacies as Obatzda (a spiced cheese-butter spread) and Weisswurst (a white sausage). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oktoberfest
German beer steins are very collectible in their own right, but they also make fabulous gifts for men - for Father's Day, a birthday and even Christmas. Nice gift for the man who has everything - except one of these fine vintage German beer steins!
Care of your Beer Stein or Mug: Hot beverages should be kept out of steins, and no hot water or dishwashers should be used to clean steins. Just use lukewarm water, mild soap, and a soft brush. Displaying steins in sunlit windows, or storing them in extremely hot or cold locations, can cause stress lines to develop in the bodies of the steins. Wrapping steins in newspaper and storing them in damp basements can discolor the pewter. When choosing a place to display steins, try to find an area free from flying objects, swinging brooms, or vacuum cleaner handles. Instruct curious friends in the proper way to hold or examine steins. Warn them especially not to allow the inlaid or heavy pewter lids to flop closed. http://www.beerstein.net/articles/bsb-b.htm