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History of Beer Boots

The Origin and Progression of the Beer Boot Glass

Beer boots have been around for a least 150 years if not longer.  There have been examples of beer boot glasses from England dating back to the early 1800s.  The glasses were used at hunting and riding clubs.  These types of boot glasses are easily spotted as they have a riding spur strap that wraps around the heel of the boot (example below).  The glasses are made from delicate mouth blown glass and are sometime rimmed with silver. This of the early English boots ranges from 12-16 ounces. The English style of beer boot fell out of favor by the 1870s.

In the mid-1800s, beer boots make an appearance in Germany.  This boots do not have the riding spur strap in the design.  They appear to be a novelty amongst the beer drinking public at large. The glasses were made from mouth blown glass but switched to machine pressed glass when the technique was introduces from the United States in the 1850s.  The early German boots are larger than their English counterparts with the average size being one liter or 33 ounces.  The toe of the boot is typically elongated and the heel is pronounced (example below). 
Old Beer Boot Drinker
In and around World War I, the German military adopted the use of beer boots as a popular rite of passage.  Military commanders are reported to have promised to drink for a boot if a battle was won.  Around this time, larger sizes of boots were developed perhaps to up the ante and to increase the bravado on could claim from finishing the larger amount of beer.  

American GIs discovered beer boot while stationed in Germany during and after World War II.  Many examples were sent back to the USA as war bounty.  After the war and as Germany was rebuild via the Marshall Plan, breweries used beer boots to promote their beer.  The sizes ranged from 1-3 liters.   As demand for this shape of beer glass increased, so did the number of glassware manufactures that produced them.  All of the major glassware companies has at least one type of beer boot in their catalogs and a few even offered 3-4. 
Beer Boot from 1940s
In the 1950s, there are examples of beer boot steins made from ceramics produced in Japan.  Around this time, cowboy or western themed beer boots were produced in the USA for the south west beer market. 

From the 1950s through 2006, beer boots were not commonly known outside of Germany.  Beer stein collectors and fans of German beer may have been aware of them.  This all changed in 2007 when the movie BeerFest was released.  A beer boot called Das Boot was introduced to the American public.  BeerFest achieved cult status and the beer boot glass entered into the psyche of every beer drinker in the country.  Since then, beer boots have become popular are German-themed restaurants and pubs, as 21st Birthday Gifts and as Groomsman Gifts.

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