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What is the Purpose of a German Beer Stein?

Updated on August 6, 2016

Beer Steins Served a Purpose

Beer steins or German beer steins are basically a beer mug that is made from stoneware, glass, pewter, silver, porcelain and even wood.They are usually big enough to hold a half liter or a full liter of beer. The beer stein can be highly decorated often showing symbolism from Germany or Bavaria. Themes include military, character steins, coat of arms, city motifs, wild life motifs, medieval themes, landscapes, Christmas themes and the ever popular name brand theme like the infamous Avon Steins, Budweiser Steins and the Budweiser Christmas Stein. Stein is an abbreviation from the German word "steingut" which when translated means stoneware.

The lid on a stein is not purely decorative as some have thought. The intention of the hinged lid, which often has a thumb press element added as a feature, was to keep fleas out of the beer. The lid was an add on to the stein during the era of the black plague. An actual German law was passed that declared that all beverage containers required a lid.

Steins are highly collectible and antique or vintage steins, like the Budweiser line, are frequently sought after. A handcrafted or antique stein can be quite pricey. They are sought after for their themes, colors, and by the maker of the stein. Some steins are collected because they mark an important event like Oktoberfest or they have been made as part of an advertising promotion. Brand name logos and dated events are commonly found imprinted on the stein. There are even steins that are musical and work the same way as a music box does. The steins have a wind up mechanism that plays a tune when activated. People are not the only collectors of steins. Because of their interesting history and fine craftsmanship, museums collect steins as well. Surprisingly, Germany is not the largest producer of the beer stein. The country of Brazil produces the most beer steins annually.

Kannenbaeckerland German Steins

Kannenbaeckerland is an area in Germany where traditional beer steins are produced. This is the Westerwald region of Germany. High quality steins have been produced in this region since the 1800's. This region is located near the Rhine River and is well known for their clean white clay that can be used to produce steins. Many potters and stein makers hail from this region. They produce gorgeous products with a salt glaze. A common glaze on pottery and steins from the Westerwald region is a salt glaze or also called, salted pottery. The salt glaze gives the pottery an orange-peel textured effect.

"Lohengren" beer steins were produced in this region of Germany with themes from the opera of the same name by Richard Wagner. The opera was an inspiration for many works of art and for themes on beer steins. Replicas of these steins are produced and are highly sought after collectors items.

Boot steins are another interesting stein from this area. German soldiers were said to drink beer from their boots when no other vessel was available. So, aptly, a beer boot or boot stein has been produced to mark this legend.

The pewter lids from the Westerwald region of Germany are highly prized as well. they are ornate and well crafted. Some might have horses, horoscopes, kings, trains, anchors, birds or coats of arms. They are very distinctive and collectible.

Budweiser Christmas and Collectible Steins

The majority of Budweiser steins are manufactured by Ceramarte of Brazil.These beer steins are sought after because they have been produced in limited quantity, they mark a holiday celebration,or highlight an event. The Anheuser-Busch company has also produced a series of these steins focusing on beer transportation like sailing or trains. The Budweiser Clydesdale Horses have been commemorated on the steins. Budweiser has not limited its production of steins to brazil. Some highly collectible steins have been produced in Germany for the Budweiser stein collection.

Budweiser Steins to Look For:

  • Character Steins like the "Bud Man"
  • Christmas Steins
  • Clydesdale Steins
  • Anniversary Editions
  • Dog Steins
  • Convention Themes
  • Budweiser Coca-Cola Steins
  • Elvis Presley
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  • Mardi Gras
  • Sports: Hockey, Olympic, Baseball, Football and The World Cup Series.

One Beer Stein - Many Uses

How Do You Use Your Beer Stein?

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    • cabmgmnt profile image

      Corey 4 years ago from Northfield, MA

      Thanks, Kasman!

    • Kasman profile image

      Kas 4 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      One of my favorite countries to travel to is Brazil. I've always wanted to get a beer stein but I never understood the top nor went out of my way to find out. Thanks for the enlightenment. When I visit Germany I definitely wanna pick one up! Very well written hub, voting it up!

    • TycoonSam profile image

      TycoonSam 5 years ago from Washington, MI

      I always wondered why the lids. Thank you for clearing that up.

      Voted up and useful

    • cabmgmnt profile image

      Corey 5 years ago from Northfield, MA

      Happy Travels Charmike4!

    • charmike4 profile image

      Michael Kromwyk 5 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      Thanks cabmgmnt - am looking forward to picking up one or two in Prague or Vienna. Cheers!

    • cabmgmnt profile image

      Corey 5 years ago from Northfield, MA


      Thanks for the vote of confidence on this hub. I have bought steins for my Father and Brother when I was in Germany. I personally like the glass etched steins with ornate pewter tops but there too many to choose from to have a real favorite. Cheers to you and your travels. Here is to hoping you find the perfect stein or it finds you!

    • charmike4 profile image

      Michael Kromwyk 5 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      Great history cabmgmnt on this origin on the stein. I'm yet to own a proper one but this may inspire me to get one on my next travels. I presume that you are a collector...what is your favourite stein? Cheers Michael

    • cabmgmnt profile image

      Corey 5 years ago from Northfield, MA


      Strange isn't it? I am sure it has to do with cost of production and the clay that is available.

    • rjsadowski profile image

      rjsadowski 5 years ago

      An interesting Hub. I didn't realize that Brazil was such a large producer of steins.