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What are Beer Steins Made Of

Have you ever wondered what are German beer steins made of? This is a question that many ponder while consuming the most popular beverage of all times. Many of us have figured it out, but lost it due to the quantities of beer consumed so we forget the answer.

Most of the early German beer steins were made out of wood or earthenware. These were shared amongst the patrons at the taverns. These did not last long because they would rot easily and break. They were also porous and the beer or ale soaked into the material which would give off a rank odor after a short time of being used. There were ceramic ones around in the beginning, but they were very expensive so not too many people had their own.

An unexpected side effect of the Black Death was there was an abundance of grains left over after the harvest. Because the population had been so decimated, there was a plentiful supply of the raw materials need to make beer. Because of this over 600 brewers in Hamburg alone sprung up in the 1500s.

The traditional German beer steins was made out of stoneware from clay recovered from the Westerwald region of Germany. The reason for the invention of the stein was to ward off the Black Plague so they were enclosed with a pewter lid. To access the beverage, a thumb lever was attached so the lid would rise. This lid was connected by a hinge so the lid could not be misplaced.

Since this humble beginning back in the 14th century many adjustments and modifications to this process have occurred. As manufacturing process improved, other materials became available for the creating of German beer steins.

When the first steins were being made, the use of a clear saltglaze and blue glaze that used cobalt oxide were known and used to cover the steins so their life expectancy could be increased.

The 16th century brought about the all pewter steins because of the increased production capabilities of the local facilities. No longer was pewter reserved for just the lid. Glass and silver steins were also produced, but they were designed for only the wealthy since their costs were too high for the average German.

Disruption in China caused problems for the Ming dynasty and their porcelain production. To help fill the gap an alternative in Germany was found in the creation of Faience. This is earthenware that is coated with tin oxide so it would appear to white porcelain like glaze to it.

The 17th century saw the introduction of real porcelain in German beer stein production. This was still very expensive so only a few were made for the extremely wealthy. The use of etched glass was still not widely used because of the price, but the shape of all steins started to take on a tall cylinder appearance that has become a mainstay up to modern times.

This is how the German beer steins has evolved over the centuries to what it is made of today, mostly stoneware that are highly decorated and treasured.


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