Beer Vessels Across History

       By: Michael Usry
Posted: 2007-04-10 09:01:34
It is commonly known that beer has been with mankind for a long while. The way we consumed beer changed as beer expanded, grew, and improved. The earliest vessels man used for drinking beer included earthenware, pottery, carved out wood, and even sewn-together pieces of leather. The quality of the beer glass saw small advancements as time passed on. During the bubonic plague beer steins were popular because of their enclosed top to prevent bugs from landing in the beer and getting them ill.The development of glass might have been the most important part of the way beer glasses are made today. As beer glasses became increasingly popular, customers could really see what they were consuming and wanted a lighter and better color and flavor. This led to the filtration of beers; people no longer wanted the coarse chunks that were found in the earlier beers of the breweries. With this new, more aesthetically pleasing era of beer glasses, it seemed like beer steins were on the way out.The development of beer glasses continued and produced a number of glasses for all types of different beers. The 16-ounce pint glass is the most popular glass in the U.S.. It was soon discovered that the design let a part of the carbonation to be freed and let the smell be more pronounced. It is also favored for its storage capabilities; pint glasses can be placed on top of each other and stored upright on shelves, quickly making them popular with the bartenders who ended up having to wash out each individual glass.An attempt to get customers to buy their kind of beer by earlier breweries led to some exceptional and groundbreaking moves on the marketing and advertising front. Giving away glasses to people was one way that breweries discovered to promote their products even with it illegal. This led to the breweries developing beer glasses that were works of art unto themselves. Gold or silver embossing on either side of the glass was not uncommon for these first ornate and pricey glasses. Gradually, artists for the breweries began doing intricate etchings on either side of the beer glasses or steins and even created a method of firing enamel paint onto the glasses. Even though they were manufactured more recently than many other collectibles, these painted glasses remain some of the most valuable and rare today. Nowadays, some of the beer memorabilia and signs are worth thousands of dollars and sought out worldwide by eager collectors. Have you looked up in the top of Grandpa's dresser in a while?Michael Usry is a long-time beer lover and contributing author for "Beer Maniac" fanzine in Austin, Tx. He is also a top affiliate at, a website for household draft beer accessories.
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