Perhaps one of the most important rules regarding the collecting of breweriana is that there are no rules. An excellent example of this can be found by taking a glimpse at the many possibilities the breweriana aficionado has when collecting beer glasses, mugs, and steins.
While there is a dizzying array of options when considering beer can, bottle or label collecting, collecting beer glasses can be equally vast in possibilities. For example, one may collect a specific type of beer glass such as a pilsner, goblet, or chalice. Beer mugs might be collected based on the technique used to manufacture the piece such as hand-blown, mold-blown, or pressed methods.
Many beer collections may have common themes such as the decorative approach applied to the beer glass: acid etching, diamond-point cutting, or glass enamels are just a few examples. Other subtle differences that may be used to define a beer glass or beer mug collection may include whether the capacity of the vessel is indicated on the glass. Some collections may revolve around a particular beer brewer or the country, state, or province from which a beer originates. Equally possible is period beer glass collecting. One such example is beer glasses or mugs made between World War I & II.
One way a beer mug collector may attempt to get a handle on their collection would be to do just that: focus on handle types. Whether mounted high or low, to the left or to the right of a decorative element or simply colored, the beer mug handle has a lot to say about the role a beer mug may play in a collection.
A variation of the glass beer mug is the stein. Stein is a shortened version of Steinzeugkrug, which literally translated from German, means “stoneware jug.” The origin of the beer stein dates back to the 14th century. As part of a law enacted in Germany during the mid to late 1300s, common drinking vessels were to be covered in order to curtail the spread of the plague by disease-carrying insects. The characteristic that defines the beer stein is the hinged lid that is operated with one hand.
An interesting angle to the beer stein collection is that the beer steins can be found made from various materials such as glass, porcelain, ivory, wood, stoneware, pewter, and silver. However fancy or simple, these personal beer tankards can be found priced anywhere from a few to several thousand dollars. Size plays a big role, too. Beer steins can be found that can hold almost 8 gallons of your favorite beer!