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What is a Beer Boot?
A beer boot, or as the Germans call it, a Bierstiefeln, is simply a beer
glass that has been created in the shape of a boot. Obviously, the
preferred beverage to drink from this glass is beer. They aren't made
any differently from traditional glassware. In most cases, boot glasses
will be made of molded, pressed glass. Artisans and expert glass
blowers have also made boot glasses. Some German manufacturers make
boot glasses out of traditional ceramic and stoneware stein materials,
but these are far less common. Boot glasses can come in a wide variety
of sizes, and they can also exhibit specific stylings, etchings and
engravings as well. In general, boot glasses hold anywhere from half a
liter of liquid to four liters of liquid.
Boot Glass History
No one knows exactly how the boot glass came about, although it probably
has some tradition that dates back to England in the 1600s. Back then,
a popular pub game was to drink a yard of ale that was served in a
special glass as fast as one could. The glass would have a bulb at the
end of it, in a way like the toe of a boot, which presented specific
challenges while the beer was being consumed. These yard of ale
glasses, also known as "Long Glasses" and "Cambridge Yard" glasses, held
roughly a liter and a half of liquid.
But there's a large difference between a long, straight glass and a
boot. The glass boot is believed to have been created in Germany at
some point, in between the 19th and 20th centuries. People offer many
stories to explain how this drinkware came to be in the shape of a boot,
but no one knows exactly for sure how the boot came to be a boot.
One story suggests that a general in the Prussian army tried to motivate
his troops before a particular battle by telling them, if they won,
that he would drink beer from his boot. After his troops won the
battle, the Prussian general had a glass boot created for him so that he
would not have to taste his own feet and boot leather while drinking
the beer. In a way, it was almost noble that he didn't want to spoil
perfectly good beer.
Another legend states that groups of German soldiers used boots to drink
their beer during World War One because they couldn't find any glasses.
This activity became a sort of morale and community builder, as
soldiers would flick the boot before drinking to wish themselves luck,
and they would flick the boot before passing it along to wish the next
soldier luck before they took a drink.
Because both of these legends are rooted in a sort of military
tradition, it should come as no surprise that soldiers frequently toast
their victories by using a glass boot. And in beer halls and other
locations around the Germanic parts of Europe, boot glasses are passed
around in celebration and as a drinking challenge.
When American troops were stationed throughout Germany after World War
Two, they were shown the German custom of drinking out of a boot glass.
It is likely because of this fact that there are several American-made
boot glasses, including boot glasses that are based off of cowboy boots.
Types of Boots
You'll be able to find a boot for just about every situation. As
mentioned before, boot glasses can hold up to four liters of liquid. To
put that in perspective, you can pour 11 bottles or cans of a 12-pack
into the largest glass boots. You can also find tiny boot glasses that
hold as much as standard shot glasses do.
Although you can probably find cheap plastic versions of boot glasses,
you will want to find one that is made from glass. The most expensive
type of boot glass you can buy is one that has been hand-blown by a
craftsman. These will be delicate but unique pieces. The most common
type of boot glass you'll find is one made from machine-pressed glass.
This is glass that has been melted and pressed into a mold. Most
mass-produced glasses will be machine-pressed, and that is because they
tend to be hardy and can withstand a bit of abuse. Buyers will also be
able to find machine-blown glass boots that have the same look of
artisan-blown glass but are also a bit more durable.
The Movie "Beerfest" and Das Boot
When "Beerfest," a comedy that was beer- and
beer-drinking-competition-themed, was released in the United States in
2006, Americans got their first look at "Das Boot," a gigantic glass
boot that was a key component of the final Beerfest competition.
Obviously, this was a pun on the famous German war movie of the same
name. While the exact measurements and dimensions of the beer glass in
the movie are unknown, many people have theorized that it could hold at
least two liters worth of liquid.
Before the movie premiered, people in America would be somewhat hard
pressed to find a traditional, German boot glass outside of German
specialty restaurants and beer gardens. However, boot glasses are
quickly becoming part of the college drinking tradition, and they are
used for several types of competitions and drinking games.
Engraved Beer Boots
Boot glasses can be engraved with several different types of logos,
insignias, monograms and designs. In Germany, it is common to see boot
glasses that have been marked with brewery logos and with Oktoberfest or
other cultural markings. Companies usually engrave these boots by
using machines, lasers or sandblasting techniques.
These engraved glass boots are perfect for groomsmen gifts and
graduation gifts, and they're great to help celebrate a special
occasion. Marking an individual's 21st birthday with a special,
customized glass boot can be a great way to say, "Congratulations! Have
a legal drink!" Glass boots are a bit more special and memorable than
other beer glassware, which can make them a gift that people will
treasure for years to come.
Drinking from a Boot Glass and Boot Glass Games
After reading so much about boot glasses, you're probably ready to give
drinking from one a try. If you've never drank from a boot glass
before, follow a few simple tips to make sure that you don't get
showered with beer.
If you haven't realized it by now, the shape of the glass is what makes
drinking from a boot so difficult. Even if the glass is properly
handled, an air bubble still might form in the toe of the boot. People
have several strategies in order to minimize the effects of the air
bubble. Some people believe that as long as the toe of the boot is
pointed to the left or right of you, an air bubble won't form. Other
people believe that the air bubble is unavoidable and that the best way
to deal with it is to twist the boot right before the air bubble
surfaces. Yet more people try to rotate the glass constantly as they
drink to avoid forming an air bubble. While any one way might not be
right, you should practice and get the gist of them all until you find a
way that you prefer.
The boot glass game is traditionally played to determine who buys the
next round, but after "Beerfest," people have issued and accepted boot
glass challenges for the pure sport of it. A full boot glass is passed
around in a circle between all of the group's members. Whoever is the
second-to-last person to drink from the glass loses the game.
Ultimately, the game lends itself to one of two strategies. Whoever
gets the boot should either try to drink the whole thing in one go, or
they should drink as little as possible and hope that their drinking
buddies aren't up to the task. Also, if you're playing with someone who
is new to a boot glass challenge, don't tell him or her the secret.
It's hilarious to watch someone suffer the ill effects of an air bubble
when they're not expecting it. It's always a lesson that someone never