TAP ROOM & Its STEINS
THE TAP ROOM
Decades ago, nearly every brewer had a Tap Room, including the Bavarian Brewing Co. The former Bavarian Tap Room is often referred to in this presentation in this manner - simply as the Tap Room. As the name implies, it was a place to taste freshly made draught beer from kegs that were just tapped. It was where clients and guests of the brewer could sample beer for free and perhaps have a snack. At the Bavarian Tap Room, a frequent accompaniment with a glass of beer in the 1950s were stick pretzels served in small wood bowls. The pretzels were often kept in a refrigerated area off the tap room with the kegs. Besides beer, if there were minors using the tap room or anyone that didn't prefer to drink beer, the tap room also offered root beer. The Tap Room was also used for employee meetings and by employees. It was located on an upper floor of the Brew House. A photo of the entrance to the Tap Room is shown in the photo on the left below. It was taken years after the brewery was abandoned and the windows, wood and metal railings show various degrees of deterioration.
The Bavarian Tap Room was paneled in wood and had high shelves above the paneling to display steins, bottles and other items. The steins were usually for display only, with the beer usually served in smaller glasses, like the ones shown on the inside the tap room, below. The center photo shows Ray Hoffman in the middle who was the General Manager of Bavarian from the 1940's until the mid 1950's. Apparently he was speaking to some employees while enjoying Bavarian's beer. The other photo shows a group of Bavarian executives. The photo on the far right shows a Bavarian Sign that in the 1902 photo, shown under Pre-Prohibition Signs. A couple chargers on the paneled walls behind the bar and some steins and bottles on the ledge above the wood paneling are visible in the interior tap room photos. (Please see Trays & Chargers.) These decorations provided an upscale atmosphere for the Bavarian Tap Room. However, because some decorations were specific to the brewer, Tap Rooms were usually rather unique in each brewery.
The above "Germania" stein by Mettlach was handed down within the William Riedlin and Schott families. It is about 23-inches tall and 5.75 liters in size. This same stein is shown in the 1902 photo shown under the Riedlin Years and also in a 1960 ad under Ads: 1957-1966.
The photos below are of the Bavarian Tap Room. The outside photo was taken in the 1990's, after the brewery had been abandoned for almost 30 years. The other two photos are of the interior of the Tap Room taken in the mid-1950's. In the middle photo, Ray Hoffman, the G.M., is making a presentation. In the far right photo, President Wm. R. Schott and Secretary / Treasurer Louis L. Schott are seated third and fourth from the left, entertaining radio and TV personalities.
BAVARIAN TAP ROOM STEINS
Below are just some of probably more than a few dozen or more steins that were displayed on the shelves of the Bavarian Tap Room, which belong to the Schott Family. The Mettlach Symphonia Stein is shown on the left. It is 5.5 litters in size and depicts several German composers. It was also handed down within the Riedlin family. The steins displayed on the shelf below rested on the ledges or a display case in the Bavarian Tap Room. They range is size from 0.5 to 1.0 litters. The first three steins on the left are etched and made by Mettlach with lids are pewter with ceramic inserts. The middle stein is of stoneware relief with German inscriptions. The three items on the left are print over glaze pottery steins with pewter lids. Steins made entirely of pewter are shown on the right below. More information about the steins can be obtained by selecting the image.
The Tap Room displayed some other larger steins shown on the right and below, with views of both the front and sides. The pewter stein to the right is about 4 liters in size and illustrates a different large image and portrait image on three sides. It also has a decorative clasp attached to the lid. Unfortunately, it does not contain any legible markings for better identification.
The vessel on the left with the cameo emblems is known as "Bowling" by Mettlach and is 4 liters in size. It has a spout for pouring and was produced with a special process known as Phanolith. Since Bavarian Brewing Co. sponsored bowling leagues, it's fitting they had such a stein. (See Sponsorships.) A photo with this vessel in the Tap Room can be viewed here. Also view a photo of Wm. Riedlin and other Turners enjoying beer after bowling.
Steins vs. Mugs vs. Tankards
With regards to the items displayed in the Bavarian Tap Room as shown above, it can be helpful to have some understanding of steins, and associated terminology. Steins, as well as mugs and tankards all refer to drinking vessels, and are often used interchangeably. However, a tankard traditionally refers to an English drinking vessel that was at first made from wood, then made from metal and can also be made from other materials. A characteristic of some metal tankards is that they had glass bottoms. Strangely, a stein is not a German word, but an English word for a beer mug made of stoneware. The German word for stein is "stone" and does not refer to a drinking vessel. Instead, the usual German term that refers to a stein is kreug. The use of stein as the English and Americans use it likely developed from the German world steinzeug, which means stoneware, a common material for a German drinking vessel. A beer mug is often synonymous with a beer stein. Both could have been made from a variety of material including wood, glass, brass, copper, stoneware, porcelain, metal and pewter. However, among these two terms, some general distinctions can be made.
A beer mug, and even a tankard, is usually more of a rather plain and utilitarian drinking vessel than a stein. Contemporary mugs can even be made of plastic, and often (but not always) without a lid.
A beer stein, in comparison, is usually ornamental and decorative, typically influenced by German design and phrases, and usually with a lid.
Example of a Mug/Tankard. The item on the right would most commonly be referred to as a mug or tankard, rather than a stein. It is one of the earliest Rookwood Pottery mugs or tankards made, if not the earliest. Rookwood was founded in November, 1889, and this mug was made in 1881 for the Cincinnati Cooperage Co. to provide as a promotional item for their clients. The Bavarian Brewery may have received this item by being a customer. It was displayed in Tap Room, and retained within the Schott family.
Types of Steins: Besides the main types of drinking vessels presented above, other types that could contain beer were beakers, (essentially ceramic cups), pokals or brimming cups/brimmers (large ceremonial handless beakers) and pitchers. Different types of ceramic steins include; etched, in relief, Print Under Glaze (PUG) and cameo. These types are included in those Bavarian Tap Room steins depicted above. Some other classifications are Character/Figural steins as well as Regimental, Military and Occupational Steins. Numerous companies have made and currently make drinking vessels. A comprehensive listing of steins can be found at the Beer Stein Library. One of largest and highly regarded makers of German steins from the 1840s to the early 1900s was Mettlach Pottery, which made several of the steins above. This firm evolved into a company that is currently known as Villeroy and Boch. The most comprehensive collection of Mettlach items with over 3,000 pieces is at the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, CA.
Collecting Steins: The more unusual, older and rare steins (as well as mugs and tankards) can be very collectible. An organization formed for collectors of such items is Stein Collectors International with chapters throughout the US and in a couple foreign countries. There are also various auction houses that specialize in selling steins.
Drinkware Coverings: Drinking vessels could be made with or without a lid. Especially for steins with a covering, typically the lids made of a pewter or ceramic held to the top of the vessel with a metal latch on a handle. Usually these covers would be relatively flat, with some illustration, sometimes in relief. However the lids could occasionally be decorated with three dimensional objects. Shown below are examples of such figural lids, depicting a castle and tennis balls. These items were not displayed at the Bavarian Tap Room. but they are part of a collection from a descendant of one of the Bavarian Brewery owners, who was inspired to collect steins and pottery from the items displayed in the Tap Room.
Other Drinkware: Besides having a collection of steins in their Tap Rooms, Brewers also advertised on cups, glasses and mugs/steins. They were intended for promotional purposes and with expectations that they would most often be used. For examples of these, please see Drinkware.
DRINK & CREDIT TOKENS
Breweries and saloons often provided tokens, that were coin like, for a free beer or drink, or a specified credit, which began in the Cincinnati area during the mid 1800s. Beer could be given to employees and guests for free before Prohibition, but this was prohibited after Prohibition. A benefit working at a most breweries is that an employee could usually have all the beer they could drink, as long as they were able to properly perform their work. Since the typical type of beer produced was a lager, which had an alcoholic content that was nearly half of an ale or other beers, intoxication would normally be limited with a combination of hard work and moderate consumption. Especially for non-employees, guests would often be given a token for a beer. However, it was known that the Bavarian night watchman would also often provide free beer to certain people, like policemen, firemen, politicians or simply local residents. Consequently, beer tokens for Bavarian are unusual, and more common from other breweries and some of the more than 400 saloons that were once operating in Covington before Prohibition. However, what may have been more common from Bavarian before Prohibition was a token that could be provided to a customer for credit when they returned bottles or kegs. A Bavarian token is shown on the side, with the initials A.C., possibly meaning "Account Credit." It appears from the center hole that once the credit was used, the center was stamped out so the token could not be reused.
Source:Cincinnati Public Libraries.