Do German Beer Steins have to have lids to be authentic?
Do German Beer Steins have to have lids to be authentic is a question that has popped up from time to time when men are drinking beer. The one thing that is for certain is that a majority of the German beer steins do have lids. There are many other so called steins being sold that are made from other places that omit the lid like the famous Budweiser steins. They have always been made in Brazil and have always been without a lid.
The lid was the most practical way to ward off disease after the black plague in Europe in the 14th century. The spread of this disease was from the flies and mites that were buzzing around all the towns including in the taverns. These flies would defecate where they pleased including liquids. Unfortunately when these flies would enter a beverage vessel that contained beer, they usually drowned. The disease they carried would then be swallowed by the patrons that were consuming the beer.
The lids on the beverage containers were an effect way of preventing the spread of the disease by digestion. This problem was thought to be so great that laws were passed in German making it unlawful to consume any beverage from an open container including the most popular drink, beer.
In the early days, the lids were made of stoneware with pewter fittings to secure them to the stein. As time passed the use of pewter grew to include the entire lid. There are two reasons the use of pewter for use with German beer steins was used. The first is this is a very malleable metal that was in an abundant supply in German. The second was that the guild that controlled the pewter industry had great influence in the local city councils in Germany at this time.
There is no evidence that the pewter guild was the force behind the instituting of the lid on beverage contains, but what is known are they were the ones that set the minimum standards for pewter usage as lids and the stoneware used to make the steins. As time progressed, the standards were raised. This eventually made drinking beer a form of art because of the attractiveness of the steins that were being created.
For the first nearly all of them also had a figure at the top of the dome and were connected to the stein with 5 rings. The lids were considered large but the thumblift was small.
Starting around 1680, the lids grew in size and became even more highly decorated. They had larger ball type thumblifts and handles were strapped for reinforcement to help secure the lids.
By the mid 18th century the size of the lids were becoming smaller but still very decorative. When the world wars started, the supply of pewter was significantly reduces so nickel plated metal lids became the norm.
To answer the question do German Beer Steins have to have lids to be authentic? The answer is yes.