The German Steinzeugkrug or stein evolved through many interesting innovations to become the beer-drinker's vessel of choice - read on to learn how glass won out over stone.

You might be surprised to learn that we have the Black Plague to thank for the traditional stone mug with hinged lid that’s synonymous with Bavarian beer drinking. It was clear to the survivors that hygiene was a major factor in that tragedy so people adopted several measures. Firstly, they began carrying their own drinking mugs to make sure they were clean. This created a demand for an alternative to the fragile clay cups common at the time. New firing techniques in Germany created temperatures high enough to vitrify, or 'melt' the clay, creating Steinzeug or stoneware.

The hinged lid we know and love, was then added in response to long, hot summers full of little flies in the 1400’s, and by the early 1500's several principalities in what was to become Southern Germany, had passed laws that all food and beverages sold must be covered to protect the public from the 'dirty' insects. The raft of other food and beverage purity laws passed to stave off a return of the Plague, had a remarkable side effect: German beer became renowned for its flavour and purity and, as German beer travelled, the stein travelled with it.

Steins became big business – not only elaborate in their materials (pewter, bone, porcelain) but also in the art adorning it. As you only drank out of one vessel in public, it became very tempting to cover it with symbols of status, style or affiliation.  The steins became quite extravagant after a few hundred years. So how, and why, did we end up with the sleek glass steins so prevalent today?

The answer is beer itself. Once the purity laws and the industrial revolution made a move from dark, cloudy ales to bright, golden lagers possible, no amount of gold on the glass was going to beat the magical shine of gold inside it. The colour and clarity of your beer was the ultimate status symbol and glass let you wear it proudly.

The TOPS at SPAR Bierfest in association with Independent on Saturday is proud to source their world class quality beer steins from the good people at Core Catering, South Africa's leading glass and kitchenware supplier. Come and cheers your fellow beer-lovers with some delicious CBC craft beers at your nearest TOPS at SPAR Bierfest.