Why Do German Beer Steins Have Lids? (Mystery Solved!)

Why do beer steins have lids?

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Authentic German beer steins are highly coveted and displayed in rec rooms and China cabinets all over the world. They’re only used on special occasions and are especially popular with anyone who enjoys drinking German beer during Octoberfest.

Traditional beer steins are made of stoneware and have a permanently attached pewter lid that can be raised and lowered with one hand.

Sounds useful, right? The innovation was born out of necessity.

Why Do German Beer Steins Have Lids?

While the notion of a beer mug with a lid might sound novel, the origins of this design came out of a particularly dark period in the history of Europe.

German Beer steins have lids for hygienic reasons. They keep bugs and leaves out of your beer so you can socialize with friends outdoors.

Beer steins with lids originated in 14th century Germany.

Europe had been ravaged by the bubonic plague, killing millions of people. Shortly after, the entire region was besieged by several invasions of flies. In response to these events, Germany passed laws requiring that all food and beverage containers be covered.

The laws drafted in the early 1500’s also applied to beer mugs, and this resulted in the clever invention of stoneware vessels with hinged pewter lids incorporating a thumb lift allowing them to be operated using one hand!

People were very concerned that insects were carriers of disease and could trigger the return of Black Death (the bubonic plague). There was nothing novel about the addition of lids to beer steins. It was considered a preventative measure.

Beer Stein Fast Facts

Now that you know why beer steins have lids, here are the answers to some other common questions people have about beer steins.

Attractive beer server

What is the Purpose of a Beer Stein?

The stoneware traditionally used to make beer steins is rugged, durable, and is ideally suited to keeping beer cold.

How Much Beer Does a Stein Hold?

Beer steins come in various sizes, but the traditional stoneware mug holds a liter of beer. This is good news for beer enthusiasts. 1 liter is roughly equivalent to two pints!

Does Beer Taste Better in a Stein?

Many beer enthusiasts feel that drinking from a traditional stoneware beer stein provides a richer experience and enhances the flavor of their favorite beer.

Add a Few Beer Steins to Your Home Bar Set Up

While traditional German beer steins with lids have a certain appeal, there are a wide range to choose from – with and without lids. Maybe you should add a few beer steins to your home bar set up!

Here are a couple of my favorites.

1 Liter Hofbrauhaus Munchen Dimpled Glass Beer Stein (2 Pack)

1 Liter Hofbrauhaus Munchen Dimpled Glass Beer Stein (2 Pack)

These heavy-duty beer steins are imported from Germany and weigh close to 3lbs each. I love the thick, dimpled glass and I feel like I’m at Octoberfest every time I use them!

Bormioli Rocco 4-Pack Large Beer Glasses with Handle

Bormioli Rocco 4-Pack Large Beer Glasses with Handle

If you want a set of great looking beer mugs without the heft, the Italian made Bormioli Rocco 4-Pack Large Beer Glasses with Handle are a great choice.

These glass steins hold 17oz (500ml)… and you get 4 of them. Perfect any time you feel like having a few friends over!


Now that you know why many traditional German beer steins have lids, you’re well positioned to win another round of bar trivia.


By Michael

Chief mixologist and cocktail enthusiast at Swizzle Club.