Beer stein, or simply stein, is an English neologism for either traditional beer mugs made out of stoneware, or specifically ornamental beer mugs that are usually sold as souvenirs or collectibles. In German, the word stein means stone and is also used to refer to any beer mug which holds 1 litre (in some parts of Germany (i.e. Bavaria) they use the word "Maß" instead). Such Steins may be made out of stoneware, pewter, porcelain, or even silver, wood or crystal glass; they may have open tops or hinged pewter lids with a thumb-lever. Steins usually come in sizes of a half litre or a full litre (or comparable historic sizes). Like decorative tankards, they are often decorated in a nostalgic manner, but with allusions to Germany or Bavaria. It is believed by some that the lid was implemented during the age of the Black Plague, to prevent diseased fleas from getting into the beer.
Beer steins were made primarily with pewter in many areas across Europe (primarily in England), but many steins were known to be made of glass, porcelain, and silver as well. Steins have also been known to have been made out of wood, earthenware, and crystal.
Ordinary German beer mugs have been made out of glass for hygienic reasons since the introduction of glass mugs to the 1892 Oktoberfest. Modern beer mugs, except again decorative or luxury versions, do not have a lid.
Beer mugs (0.5 and 1 litre) are typical for beer gardens and especially the Oktoberfest, where they are popular for their robustness. In other settings, 0.33 and 0.5 litre beer glasses are also popular.
Source: Beer stein from Wikipedia
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