German Beer Steins: A History of the Beer Boot and German Glassware

German Beer Steins: A History of the Beer Boot and German Glassware

The Iconic German Beer Boot

An iconic German creation is the famous boot of beer or beer boot. The original incarnation of this mainstay was the “yard of ale”.   This was a long, tapered tube of glass, with a bulb blown at one end. This device could then be filled with beer and used as a drinking vessel. It was originally utilized by stagecoach drivers and similar working individuals.

History of the Glass Beer Boot

As the story goes, a military commander in the German army promised his troops that, should they succeed in battle, he would drink beer from his own boot; thus a beer boot. Upon victory, he commissioned a yard of ale shaped like a boot as to avoid the taste of his own footwear. It is said that since then, the device has been a fixture at celebrations and Oktoberfest events, passed around tables in a clockwise fashion.

Traditions of Drinking from the German Beer Stein Boot

Partygoers take turns sipping from the device. The bulb of the boot creates an air pocket that, when tipped completely, causes beer to rush out and spill over the drinker. The patron who causes the boot to bubble is required to buy the table another round!

Types of Beer Boot Glasses

In addition to these, German brewers pioneered a number of glasses designed for specific types of beer. The most utilitarian of these is the willybelcher, or German pint glass (not technically falling into the German Beer Steins category). This standard of German drinking has a thick bottom and a tapered middle. In general, the beer boot does not come with a pewter lid and typically is made of glass or plastic rather than being a stoneware beer stein mug.

A weizenglass, used to drink authentic German wheat beers, has a thin bottom and a neck that flares wider. A stange is a small glass, typically used for kolsch beer. Its cousin glass is the becher, a shorter and thicker version, is used for altbier. Both of these glasses are typically served in a wooden tray, with pegholes cut out to hold them. In this way one can serve a wide variety of brews in convenient sampling sizes.

 Image Courtesy of Mathias’ Flickr Page

German stein drinking vessels such as beer boots and beer steins made in west Germany are as storied and unique as the festivals that employ them. These beer steins are a favorite among stein collectors. Over the centuries a number of innovations and artistic endeavors have led to some of the finest and most recognizable German glasses worldwide. These have been elevated to symbols, associated with craftsmanship and of course, merriment!


1 Liter Plastic Oktoberfest Boot with Lanyard



                                       Oktoberfest Bavarian Glass 1 Liter Beer Boot

Beer steinGlasswareMainOktoberfestOktoberfesthaus


Lawrence Motzer

Lawrence Motzer

I am a Stein collector and have been for many years, the different designs that makeup the Beer Stein industry is what drew me to collecting Steins plus a two year stay in Germany down in Bavaria thanks to the United States Air Force.

Oktoberfest Guy

Oktoberfest Guy

Nice! Glad you liked the post. How big is your collection Lawrence?

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