Munich Brewery Steins*

by Johannes Vogt
Translation and additions by Albert Nemeth, M.D.

Since the Middle Ages, beer has been brewed in Munich and consumed out of a variety of drinking vessels. Brewers were organized in guilds. Until the middle of the 19th century, steins and Humpen were exclusively decorated with the emblem of the brewer�s guild. In the 17th and 18th centuries, different factories and small craft shops produced artistically-crafted drinking vessels of faience, glass, and pewter which depicted the emblem of the brewer�s guild (see Figs. 2 center and 3 left, center and right).

Advertising Tools

During the course of the 19th century, the strict rules governing the guilds were broken and replaced in 1868 by trade regulations. The age of competitive trade was born and the different breweries, to increase their sales, had to distinguish themselves from one another through appropriate advertising measures. At this time the beer stein as an advertising medium was discovered. Beginning in the 1870s, Munich breweries had pewter lids manufactured containing their monograms. The lids were mounted on Keferloh Mass (pronounced Kay-fur-low M-ah-s) steins, which were typically one liter, as was customary from the beginning of the 19th century. (One liter is still the quantity dispensed at the Oktoberfest to this date!)

Fig. 1 � Munich Brewery and Beer Hall Steins, early 1900s

The Keferloh Mass stein, which consists of grey Westerwald stoneware, derives its name from the town of Keferloh (near Munich), where beer was dispensed into these steins during the horse markets held there.

Fig 2. Faience steins: Left - Nieder�sterreich, Barrel Maker; Center - Ansbach, Brewer; Right - Nieder�sterreich, Barrel Maker
The Reinhold Merkelbach company of Grenzhausen (near Coblenz) manufactured many of these simple steins intended for use at pubs, bars etc., and also distributed them through its own factory warehouse, founded in Munich in 1878. This Merkelbach subsidiary not only distributed these steins to the Munich breweries, but also to the entire beer-drinking southern part of Germany. Merkelbach�s retail shop was located at 85 Bayer Street in Munich, and from 1891 onwards went by the company designation: Beer stein factory branch, Frau Toska Merkelbach in Grenzhausen, Nassau, owner.

Shortly before the turn of the century, the Munich breweries began to label their Mass steins with their individual inscriptions. Initially, berwery inscriptions were hand-engraved into the stein (see Figure 4, left). Somewhat later, it was affixed with a stamp, with either block or script lettering. The brewery inscription was then painted blue and fired in a kiln.

The Turn of the Century

At the turn of the last century, about 1900 beer pubs existed in Munich, along with 28 breweries, whose names are listed in the following table:

Munich Breweries, Ca. 1900
Augustiner-Br�u M�nchner Bierw�rze-Gesellschaft
Berg-Brauerei Munchner Kindl-Br�u
B�rgerbr�u Paulaner-Br�u
Eberl-Br�u Pschorrbr�u
Franziskaner-Leistbr�u Schramm M. Brauerei
Gernerbr�u Schwabingerbr�u
Hackerbr�u Spatenbr�u
Kloster-Brauerei Sternecker Br�u
Kockelbr�u Thomasbr�u
K�nigliches Hofbr�uhaus Unions-Br�u
Lehr-und Versuchsanstalt f�r Brauer Wagnerbr�u
L�wenbr�u Weizenbierbrauerei Schneider G. und Sohn
Math�ser-Br�u Weizenbierbrauerei Thalkirchen
Michel's Braulehranstalt M�nchen Zacherl-Br�u

About 1900, the Munich breweries listed above reached a beer production of approximately 3,500,000 hectoliters (about 92.5 million gallons), of which over 1.5 million hectoliters (about 39.5 million gallons) were exported. The average annual per capita beer consumption in Munich at the time was 240 liters (about 254 quarts).

Fig. 3 � Porcelain occupational steins for Brewers and Brewery Wagon Drivers, early 1900s

Individual Emblems

Fig 4. Left - Keferloh Mass stein, 1.0L, engraved decoration, Braueri zum M�nchener Kindl; Right - 1.0L, Hofbr�uhaus
It was not long before the Munich breweries had their own company emblems designed and protected by law. For example, in 1879 the K�nigliche Hofbr�uhaus (King�s Court Brewery House) had the large Latin letters H and B surmounted by a crown registered as their trademark in the Munich commercial registry (Figure 4, right). The company emblem of the Spatenbrauerei (Spade brewery) was designed by the Munich artist Otto Hupp in 1884, and from that time on was used on the brewery�s steins and pewter lids. Franziskaner Br�u (Franciscan brewery) had its emblem designed by the artist Ludwig Hohlwein who had made a name for himself in Munich. The Brauerei zum M�nchner Kindl (Brewery to the Munich Child) used the Sch�tzenlisl (shooting contest maiden), who was painted in 1878 by Friedrich August von Kaulbach and was a well-loved motif at the time in Munich (Fig. 1, far left).

Elfenbein Stoneware

Elfenbein (ivory) stoneware is coated with a clear glaze mixture and high-fired to fine stoneware. During the firing in the kiln, it receives its yellowish coloring reminiscent of ivory (thus the name). These steins had a smooth surface which was well-suited for the print-over-glaze (POG) technique. Using the POG technique, the outlines of the motifs were affixed to the yellowish steins with a machine. Then the decoration was hand-painted and fired again. The motif thus consisted of a combination of POG and hand-painting. A variation on the process was to stamp the brewery emblems and script signatures onto the steins and only handpaint the beginning letters (see Fig. 5, right).

Fine Stoneware

Fig 5. Elfenbein stoneware, early 1900s: Left - incised; Right - print over glaze
The print-over-glaze technique described for Elfenbein stoneware was also used for the grey saltglazed Westerwald stoneware from 1910 on. Fine stoneware is made from stoneware clay that is finely sieved and kneaded and no longer porous after firing. The clay from the Westerwald receives its greyish coloring during the reduction (oxygen-poor environment) firing process. Like the Elfenbein stoneware, the surface of fine stoneware steins was also smooth and well-suited to the joyously colorful POG decorations that were becoming increasingly popular (see Fig. 1).

Pressed Glass Steins

Since the turn of the century, in addition to stoneware steins, the Munich breweries also had pressed glass steins made for them by the Sachsen Glass Company in Ottendorf-Okrilla. These glass steins were mounted with the pewter lids of the respective brewery. In some instances, they also had the brewery name on the bottom inside of the stein so that the name of the respective brewery could be read after emptying the stein. Pressed glass steins were produced in quarter- and half-liter sizes.

The Munich firm of Martin Pauson, founded in 1884, sold special order steins and pewter lids in limited editions. An example is the one-liter stein with the inscription Vereinigte M�nchener Brauereien (Union of Munich Breweries) ca. 1910. This union was a voluntary alliance of local breweries and thus a sort of successor to the former brewer�s guild.

In addition to the firms already mentioned, Reinhold Merkelbach and Martin Pauson, the Munich breweries also had their steins produced by the following: Vitus Herr, Munich; L. Thannemann and Cie, Munich; Villeroy & Boch, Mettlach; Marzi & Remy, Grenzhausen; and Merkelbach & Wick, Grenzhausen.

The pewter lids for the brewery steins were made in Munich by a variety of pewter foundries: A. Schneider; Br�der Thannhauser Zinngusswarenfabrik; Ch. Reck; Ludwig Mory; Martin Pauson; and Pruckners Nachfolger.


*Reprinted from The Beer Stein Journal, November 1994, by permission from Gary Kirsner Auctions.