Beer Steins – History You Can Hold in Your Hands


What do stoneware, hinged lids and the Black Plague all have to do with beer steins? They have all contributed in a major way to the steins, functional, collectible or both, that you can see and use today. When you pick up this strange, mysteriously formed, lid-topped, decorated article, you are picking up a hunk of history!

No Flies in My Beer, Thank You

Cast your mind back to the shadowy years of the 14th century. America had not yet been invented (Red Indians were making the most of the peace and quiet). Europe was going about its daily business of battles, roasting whole oxen and hunting pheasant, when… bubonic plague struck! Estimates suggest that between one third and two-thirds of the entire population died because of it. Not cool! The Black Plague became associated with the swarms of flies present at the time, which had the noxious habit of diving into people’s drinks. But Germans, being smarter than flies, had the solution. Hinged lids with thumb lifts on beer mugs kept flies out and (hopefully) the plague too.

Better Beer Too

German provinces, big beer producers even then, passed laws to ban the Black Plague – Well no, actually to ban insanitary practices that could be linked to plague outbreaks. Population decrease had meant food supply increase, including grain. Beer could now be made with better quality ingredients, which increase its popularity and led to growth in the beer stein production market. Beer stein makers never had it so good!

Beer Stein Market Segmentation (Dark Ages Style)

The entry-level article was made out of earthenware. However, it tended to separate into two or more pieces under sudden impact. The next level up was stoneware. Significantly more robust, it cost more, but also attracted higher quality design. Up a notch again, there was pewter and even porcelain, glass and silver. Nowadays you can find quality items both as valuable antiques and new models. And as a final twist in the history of steins to the present day, Europe surrendered its number one stein production status in the 1970s to Brazil and its Ceramarte Company.

Old German Black Lozenge Beer Stein

This beer stein is glossy black with silver pewter adornments, including a coat of arms and (of course) the lid. Made out of the finest clay, this “Seidel” (the German word for beer mug) has a 0.5 liter capacity. The glaze is also bordered by a gold rim. As you grasp its handle in one hand and run your fingers of your other hand over the rich relief, you’ll get that beer stein feeling that has thrilled so many generations before you. And you can drink beer out of it! How’s that for living, working history?

Thewalt 1893 Stein Of Kings

Time to get REGAL! This Thewalt replica has 6 panels depicting medieval kings, on a solid 8-sided base. It has been created as a limited edition of 2,500 pieces, so you’ll find yourself in select company as the owner of one of these beer steins. As you drink your classy Berliner Weissbier from this classic stein, think up witty and sophisticated things you might have said to the kings depicted on the sides of this terrific tankard. Of course, you have one big advantage over them. You get to drink the great beer – all they can do is watch you drinking it!

Polska Glass Beer Stein with Pewter Lid and Pewter Medallion

Where other steins hide your beer in their clay bellies and under their lids, this elegant glass beer stein shows you what you’re drinking (so you also know when to run to the fridge and grab a refill). Polish white and red flags are proudly displayed as a three-color direct print permanently fired on the stein body. A pewter shield on the front of the stein displays the title “POLAND” with the Polish Eagle underneath. The lid displays a symmetric oak leaf and acorn pattern, and “POLAND” in all four directions.

Old World Map Beer Stein

These beer steins are so beautifully ornate that you may even forget to drink your beer, so intense will be your interest in their decoration. They have an encircling dual map of the Eastern Hemisphere and the Western Hemisphere, accompanied by astronomical designs. Further illustrations include scenes from harvests and ships making ready for sailing. A dome-shaped lid of pewter completes the line-up with an additional globe motif. Be amazed at the intricacy of world maps from back then, and the richness of the art that went with them (and remember to drink your great beer too).

Harley-Davidson® 110th Anniversary Stein

Who said the US couldn’t have beer steins of its own – and especially for a brand as iconic as Harley-Davidson? The hand glazed stoneware features silver filigree markings and a lid proclaiming ”110 YEARS OF GREAT MOTORCYCLES” medallion. Each individually numbered stein is accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity Each one of these ‘black is beautiful’ commemoration beer steins (put beer in them, not engine oil!) is individually numbered. And each one will have you going ‘potato, potato, potato’ as you open up the throttle on your imaginary Electra Glide and cruise off into the sunset.

Relive the Glorious Past…

… and prepare for a fabulous future, with your very own beer stein. Every stein has a story to tell, and one of them is surely meant to be heard by you. Yes, beer steins also need loving care and attention whatever they’re made out of. But when a beer drinking vessel packs this much history and quality, it’s worth lavishing your love on it.

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