Featured Stein: December 2013
~ A Heartfelt Toast to you Oh Barley Juice ~
By Stan Kaslusky

This month's Featured Stein is a 1 liter pottery stein which has a scene of a young man celebrating his “brotherhood with beer”. The stein was made by Reinhold Hanke (Alleged to be the father of the modern beer stein) circa 1900. The mold number is 780, which was produced with various scenes. I purchased this stein at an antique shop in Cape Cod Massachusetts this past summer as the hand painted scene caught my eye and was in the price parameters of PWWP (Purchases When Wife Present).

The stein in itself is not that remarkable however the German phrase painted on the picture is of interest. The picture is of a young man dressed in festive dress raising a large stein in a toast. A scroll highlights the words “Schmollis dir O Gerstensaft”. Checking with the various stein collector libraries I could not find the translation. The word Schmollis did not appear in my German/English dictionary nor did it appear in any web search. Was it possibly someone’s name or a place? This prompted me to contact a German friend of mine who teaches English in the German school system. Herr Fimm replied with the following interesting discovery.

There is an old saying, "Schmollis  trinken", originating in the 18th century and referring to celebrating your brotherhood and sealing it with a good drop of something. The idiom would be "Brüderschaft trinken" in current German (as expressed in the gesture of two people linking their arms before lifting their drinks to their own mouths). "Schmollis dir, O Gerstensaft" would mean drinking one’s “brotherhood” with beer itself. "Hail, o barley juice, let's drink our brotherhood!"

In my many travels to Germany and Russia I have experienced the locking arms drinking gesture with good friends so I can relate to the concept of brotherhood drinking. Many meetings ended the day with great spreads of food, laughs, singing, toasting and abundant beer or vodka. However brotherhood with beer itself? That could be a more serious matter.
Schmollis trinken as depicted in an early 18th Century wood cutting.
My summer purchase of this stein led to the story I have shared above and a wish for you to lock arms with a good friend and Schmollis trinken.
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