TAP ROOM, ITS STEINS & TOKENS
THE TAP ROOM
Decades ago, nearly every brewer had a Tap Room, including the Bavarian Brewing Co. The former Bavarian Tap Room was a place to taste freshly made draught (draft) 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. A frequent accompaniment with a glass of beer in the Tap Room during the 1950s were stick pretzels, often refrigerated along with the kegs, served in small wood bowls. Besides beer, a root beer soft drink was also available for minors or those that didn't prefer to drink beer. The Tap Room was also used for employee meetings and by employees. It is believed to have been located with access off the second floor of the Brew House. A photo of the entrance to the Tap Room is shown in the accompanying photo.
This photo was taken years after the brewery was abandoned with the windows, wood and metal railings show various degrees of deterioration.
TAP ROOM STEINS
There were a couple dozen steins displayed on the ledges of the Bavarian Tap Room. The largest and most significant of these, which were also retained at times in the Riedlin and Schott family homes, were two Mettlach steins. One was the Germania Stein, as shown in the accompanying photos. It is about 23-inches tall and 5.75 liters in size. This same stein is shown in a 1960 ad that featured a photo of Bavarian workers in 1902. (See Ads: 1957-1966). Another large stein was the Symphonia Stein, 5.5 litters in size, depicting several German composers.
The above "Germania" stein by Mettlach was handed down within the William Riedlin and Schott families.
The Bavarian Tap Room was paneled in wood and had high shelves above the paneling to display steins, bottles and other items. Above these shelves in a portion of the Tap Room were some German images and sayings on the wall. 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 early 1940's until the mid 1950's. Apparently he was speaking to some employees while enjoying Bavarian's beer. A couple chargers are on the paneled walls behind the bar. (Please see Trays & Chargers.) A few steins and a bottle in the Tap Room are visible on a ledge above the wood paneling. The other photo shows radio and TV announcers sponsored by Bavarian Brewing Co. in the Tap Room in 1954, being entertained by a couple Bavarian executives. Bill Schott, President, is sitting in the center, and on the right is his brother Louis L. Schott, Secretary/Treasurer. Above them is the vintage reverse glass Bavarian Sign also partially visible in the previous photo. (See Pre-Prohibition Signs.) These decorations provided a unique atmosphere for the Bavarian Tap Room. However, because some decorations were specific to the brewer, Tap Rooms were usually rather unique to each brewery.
The three photos of the vessel shown with the cameo emblems is known as "Bowling" by Mettlach and is 4 liters in size. It is located on the shelf in the Tap Room photo above with Ray Hoffmann. It has a spout for pouring and was produced with a special process known as Phanolith. Bowling was popular among an organization located next to the brewery known as The Covington Turners, where William Riedlin and some brewery workers were members. (See the Late 1800s for a photo of Turners enjoying beer after bowling.) The brewer also sponsored bowling teams that competed in league play into the 1960s.
The steins displayed below are not shown in the previous photos, but rested on the ledges in the Tap Room, or possibly in a display case. 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 that have 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. More information about the steins can be obtained by selecting this image.
A large pewter stein from the Tap Room, about 4 liters in size, illustrates different images and a portrait on three sides. It also has a decorative clasp attached to the lid. Unfortunately, it does not contain any legible markings for better identification.
All the steins from the Tap Room were obtained from the former President of the Bavarian Brewing Co., Wiliam (Bill) R. Schott.
A Rookwood Mug. The item shown was displayed in the Bavarian Tap room and was made in 1881. It is one of the earliest items made by Cincinnati's Rookwood Pottery, which was established in November, 1880. This vessel was made for the Cincinnati Cooperage Co. as a promotional item for their clients. The Bavarian Brewery likely received this item by being one of their customers and it was retained by the past owners of the brewery - the Riedlin and Schott Families. It can be viewed in the Barrel display located on the first floor of the Kenton Co. Government Center in Covington, KY.
Differences between Steins, Mugs & Tankards. These terms are often used interchangeably and a stein can be described as stoneware mug for drinking beer. However, the contents of a stein are normally measured starting at 0.5 liter or more, and a tankard typically contains a pint. Often tankards and steins also have hinged lids. Whereas, a mug is typically a rather plain drinking container without a lid. Steins do not need to be made in Germany, but when they are, they are referred to as German beer steins. These vessels can be made from a wide variety of materials.
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.
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.