Featured Stein: November 2014

~ The Beer Map Stein ~

By Ronald E. Gray ©2014

Roll out the barrel, we’ll have a barrel of fun with this beer stein. This is why we collect beer steins – for the beer! And this beer stein shows us where to get a variety of different beers.

Europe is divided into three alcohol belts. To the north is the Vodka Belt, where harsh winters and short summers only leave enough time to grow potatoes, a key ingredient for vodka. All you need to add is water; and they have plenty of that. To the south is the Wine Belt with its mild and sunny climate ideal for growing grapes, the key ingredient for wine. And the middle of Europe is where you find the Beer Belt, where hops and barley can be grown for the world’s most consumed alcoholic beverage, with Germany right in the center.

This stein was made by Villeroy & Boch at their Mettlach, Germany factory. It is a 0,5 L form 285, decoration number 1096. It is a print under glaze (PUG) although The Mettlach Book, fourth edition, by Gary Kirsner lists it as hand painted. I think the one in the book probably lacked a decoration number and was assumed to be hand painted in error. There is just too much detail, most of which is small, to be hand painted. The stein shows the European Beer Belt as though it were a world onto itself. Running through the center where the equator would be is the Bierlinie (Beer Line). To the north is the WENDEKREIS DES KATERS (Tropic of Tomcats, which are a sign of a hangover). To the South is WENDEKREIS DES AFFEN (Tropic of the Monkeys, which are a sign of extreme drunkenness). München is surrounded by a blue circle, indicating it is the Bierpol (Beer Pole) due to its six major breweries that highlight the annual Oktoberfest, the world’s largest beer party. The six Munich breweries are Augustiner, the oldest having been found in 1328; Hacker-Pschorr, founded in 1417; Hofbräu, founded in 1589 by Wilhelm V; Löwenbräu, a 15th century brewery; Paulaner, brewed since 1634; and Spaten, founded in 1637. The cities and areas shown on the map of Germany are listed in the table below:

German Cities and Areas North of the Beer Line from West to East
  1. Dortmund Known for its Dortmunder Beer.
  2. Bremen Home of Beck’s Brewery.
  3. Göttingen Home of Göttinger Brauhaus AG which is now owned by Einbecker Brauhaus AG,
  4. Cassel (now Kassel) Home of Kasseler which is now owned by Einbecker Brauhaus AG.
  5. Kiel Home of Kieler Brauerei.
  6. Hamburg Home of Blockbräu.
  7. Rostock Home of Hanseatic Rostock Brewery.
  8. Greifswald Zum Alten Fritz is the Braugasthaus to visit to taste the local brews.
  9. Berlin Berliner Weisse was the most popular brew in the 19th century.
  10. Heligoland An archipelago in the North Sea acquired by Germany from Great Britain in 1890.

    German Cities and Areas South of the Beer Line from West to East
  11. Strassburg (now Strassbourg, France) This is now the main beer producing area of France.
  12. Bonn There are four Braugasthaus to visit: “Em Höttche,” “Im Stiefel,” “Sudhaus” and Bönnsch.”
  13. Pflatz(Palantinate) This actually is a wine growing region which perhaps is why it is colored blue on the map.
  14. Freiburg Hausbraerei Feierling is centrally located and has been brewing beer since 1877.
  15. Marburg Commercial brewing in Marburg ceased in 2005 with the demise of Marburgerbier on Pilgrim Strasse.
  16. Giessen Adolf Denninghoff founded Giessen’s first brewery in 1899.
  17. Heidelberg The Beer Guide suggests two breweries, Vetters and Kulturbrauerei.
  18. Tübingen Gasthaus-brauerei Neckarmueller on the banks of the Neckar is the only brewery in town.
  19. Würzburg Würzburg Hofbräu is a favorite local beer.
  20. Nürnberg Altstadthof Bräuerei got excellent reviews.
  21. Jena Try the black (dark) beers here, either get Köstritzer or Schwarze Rose.
  22. Erlangen At one time this was the top brewing city in Bavaria before refrigeration. The local hills had caves where the beer, like Steinbach Brau, could be kept cool
  23. München The top six beers were listed above. In 2012, Paulener was the eighth best selling beer in Germany,
  24. Halle Hallesche Brauhaus Kühler Brunnen is in an historic setting. The Cooler Fountain building is from the Renaissance period.
  25. Leipzig Reudnitz and Ersnt Bauer are the two local breweries.
  26. Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland)Bierhalle and Spiz Brewery are the best microbreweries.

The North Sea is called Herrings Meer (Herring Sea). The herring, of course, are a cure for the hangover. Great Britain (now the United Kingdom) is called the Bier Insel (Beer Island). No cities are shown, but two beers are named – Porter and Pale Ale. The Baltic Sea is labelled as Norduches (perhaps an abbreviation for Norddeutches) Biermeer or the North German Beer Sea.

To the west of Germany is Faro Land. This one gave me fits as I could not find a translation for Faro. What were they talking about? I even asked my fellow members of the Arizona Stein Collectors, but they too were at a loss of what Faro Land was even though they were far more travelled than me. After many hours of frustration in searching for an answer, I finally set it aside. I needed a break and the Rick Steves travel log on a European tour was just the right dose of medicine I needed. Any good travel log, and this was a good one, will stop in the bars to taste the local brew. When Rick arrived in Brussels, Belgium the first stop was the local tavern. The minute he walked in I saw my answer on the tavern wall – a Faro Beer sign. This is a popular local brew that is little-known outside Belgium.

East of Munich is Franz Josephs Land (Austro-Hungarian Empire) and the city of Pilsen (now in Czech Republic). Just southeast of Germany is France labelled as Salicyl-Wüste (Salicylic-Desert). Salicylic acid is found in grapes so they may be saying you will not find any good beer in France. If anyone knows the correct translation or interpretation of this phrase, please post it on SteinTalk. The Sardellen Bai (Anchovies Bay) is on the coast of the North Sea. Further east is Wuttkiland (Land of the Vodka). The German word for vodka is wodka, so the spelling on the stein may be a dialect or a play on the word intended to be a pun.

The inset on the left side reads Neueste Bierlandkarte Bierstädte (Latest Beer Land Map of Beer Cities). The inset on the right side with the heading Maasstab (measuring rod) over two mugs, the larger one is labelled Ganze (whole or full liter) and the smaller one is labelled Halbe (half liter). Below the two mugs is a figure of the Münchner Kindl (Munich Child). A keg of beer appears to the right of the two mugs and is labelled Hecto, an abbreviation for hectoliter (100 liters).

If you drink a barrel of beer at each stop on this map (you should do six in Munich as it is the Bierpol), you can call yourself a real German beer drinker. That is 31 barrels of beer or 3,100 liters of beer. The average German drinks 118 liters of beer per year, so set aside at least 26 years to accomplish your objective. You will have barrels of fun doing it!

Fun beer facts:
  1. Germany only ranks third in the production of beer – the U.S. and China are first and second.
  2. While the average German drinks 118 liters per person, the Czechs are the world leaders at 160 liters per person.
  3. Germany has over 1,200 breweries, of which about half are in Bavaria.
  1. Alcohol Belts of Europe: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_belts_of_Europe.
  2. Introduction of wine to Germany: http://www.germanwine.de/8256.html
  3. German Beer Institute: http://www.germanbeerinstitute.com/index.html