Friday, 3 June 2011

Father's Day


Martyn Cornell said...

Love the little "brewer's star" decoration on the tap in the first pic.

Aber was ist diese "Doppelhopf"? Ein "Doppel Indische Helles Bier"?

Andrew Elliott said...

Wow... seems the Germans are doing some extreme brewing as well -- "Doppelhopf" with twice the aroma hops, a light-rye beer, and a Smoked Schwarzbier. MMmmmm... I'd have trouble not stumbling out of there. It must have been fantastic!

Ed Carson said...

What's with the "Davidstern" on the Schlenkerla tap? Is it a trademark? Re-purposed booty? Or just something they thought was pretty?

Andrew Elliott said...

Ed, I came across this several years ago when looking about for German brewing symbology. It's one that turned up frequently, and in a thesis I came across from a student of Weihenstephan's Engineer's course. I believe it is a brewer's star (Brauerstern/Bierstern) -- as you pointed out it appears the same as the Star of David, both are hexagrams, though unconnected in origin. In the case of brewers, it was the mark of the brewer's guild; they had been using it for quite some time to indicate quality and purity.

Interesting article on if you'd like to check it out:

Jonathan said...

@ Ed: The hexagram is the traditional German symbol of brewing, its called a Zoigl. I may be be off the mark a bit but it is akin to the barber pole or three ball infront of a pawn shop, a universally recognized symbol of a trade that dates back to the middle ages

Thomas Barnes said...

@Ed: The six-pointed star on the tap has nothing to do with Judaism. It's just a very old brewers' symbol. In Germany during the Middle Ages, a hexagram indicated either a tavern, a brewery, or the house of an alewife who had ale for sale.

This early 15th century illustration is a good example of what I'm talking about:

It comes from an illuminated manuscript describing the inhabitants of the "Mendel Haus" a pensioners home in Nuremburg, set up for indigent retired tradesmen in the late 14th century.

Given that you had to be a Christian to get admitted to a guild in the Middle Ages, and that the inhabitants of the Mendelhaus were lay brothers, there's no way it's a Jewish symbol.

Gary Gillman said...

I read this account from one of the links Thomas provided:

This is a fairly learned run-through. As I read the English translation, the author suggests that the Jews brought the hexagram with them when they came to Germany, a symbol also known, the author says, in India and Arabia.

He says the symbol had various meanings, alchemic (representing the opposites of water and water); as a protective sign; and even in tantric lore. He states that in its second meaning, the symbol was placed on buildings as a sign against the risk of fire or other physical dangers. He says malt houses frequently caught fire for example (and malting and brewing were closely connected in the old days), and so the symbol was placed to ward against such risks.

He says in Nurnberg, Jews, and then others, used the symbol in this sense. He theorizes that the Star of David became a symbol of Judaism (i.e., a religious symbol) only after persecuted Nurnberg Jews took refuge in Prague, where their militia used the symbol on flags in the old Nurnberg sense, but that through dissemination of Jewish books and materials from printers in the Jewish community, ultimately the Star of David became a symbol of Judaism itself. He makes some interesting comments about the linked histories of Nurnberg and Prague.

The author states his belief that the six-pointed star associated with German brewing did not derive from alchemy, and that the symbol was originally found in Bavaria and especially Franconia, not Germany at large.

As I read him, he is saying the Jews probably brought the symbol to Europe as a protective sign or emblem and the general population started to use it in the same sense, but only later did the Star acquire a specifically religious meaning in Jewry.

This theory therefore seems to suggest a connection between Jewish incomers to Nurnberg and the use of the symbol by brewers in Bavaria, but not as a result of (religious) Judaism as such.

This is interesting and the first article I've ever seen which goes into the question in such detail.


Gary Gillman said...

When referring to the opposites in alchemy that might be represented by the superimposed triangles, I meant fire and water of course.


Rod said...

Andrew -
Hallerndorf is a well-kept secret, but Ron knows everywhere in Franken. If you really truly love beer it's where you go when you die.

Thomas Barnes said...

@ Gary. I can't believe that the zoigl/Mogen David/brauernstern/hexagram is a Jewish import to Europe. It's too simple and attractive a shape to have not been invented independently thousands of times throughout the centuries.

No proof, but if it is an import to Europe, it's possible that the "Jewish" connection is actually Arabic. The hexagram gets used a lot in traditional Arabic/Moorish design.

Gary Gillman said...

I'd like to read more about the question but don't have the time or ability now to get the necessary sources, which moreover are probably mostly in languages I don't read.

A retirement project maybe - or my second one, the first may be learning German. :)

The Schlenkerla site's material, from what I have gleaned, is taken from a doctoral thesis on brewers' signs and symbols written by the gentleman who currently heads up Aecht Schlenkerla in Bamberg. (He has an impressive background, technical-brewing, business, and academic).