The Brewer's Star

| No TrackBacks


It amazes me that although events that took place in the past are completely finite and unchangeable, history seems to have a lot of versions. It is often intentionally or unintentionally mudded and clouded, a virtual maze for anyone trying to find real answers.

It seems that one is generally met with this constant of history when researching anything that took place in the past. The history of brewing is no exception.


The History and Origin of the Brewers Star

Brewers as far back as the 1300's painted a six-pointed star on the ends of their beer kegs, known as the "brewer's star". The star was the official insignia of the Brewer's Guild as early as the 1500s. The star was hung outside breweries and incorporated into logos for breweries and can still be seen in small village breweries in Bavaria.


Apparently the brewer's star was intended to symbolize purity. If a brewer attached this insignia to his brew he was in essence declaring it to be free of any impurities such as additives, and adjuncts. In folklore the six points of the star represented the six aspects of brewing most critical to purity: the water, the hops, the grain, the malt, the yeast, and the brewer.


Because of its similarities to the Star of David, some have suggested that King David was a brewer and this was its origin. According to scripture David was a worshipper of the true God Jehovah, and the six sided star or hexagram had connections far from true worship. I am not enough of a historian to know how intermixed the Israelite's were with paganism at this time.


Around 804 B.C.E a possible Biblical reference to this 'star' appears. It can be found in the Bible at Amos 5:26, where it mentions "the star of YOUR god" making reference to a pagan god, Rephan also known as Kaiwan. J. A. Hort remarked: "In the LXX of Am v 26 the form used is [Rhai•phan´] or [Rhe•phan´], which is similar to Repa or Repha, one of the names of the Egyptian Saturn (Seb)."--The New Testament in the Original Greek, by Westcott and Hort, Graz, 1974, Vol. II, appendix, p. 92


Possibly connected with star worship, the hexagram no doubt existed even long before 804 B.C.E. People in the occult, astrology, and witchcraft have all long used this symbol. It's often used as a talisman or charm.


Some have suggested that this found it's way into the Jewish community when Israel's king Solomon apostatized and started worshiping pagan gods. While others state that the first use of the term "Shield of David" was about 1300 CE when a Spanish practitioner of Jewish mysticism wrote a commentary on the central book of that mysticism, the Zohar. They also state that the first actual linkage of the hexagram to a Jewish community appears in the early 1300s on the flag of the Jewish community of Prague, which was designed with permission of Charles IV when he became king of Bohemia.


So, at what point did this star find its way into brewing?

That is a pretty good question. I think most answers are going to be pretty speculative. I can see why someone may have wanted to put a symbol of 'good luck' on their brew, much as Bacardi does with the bat emblem. I can also see how if this was an official flag in part of Bohemia, the birthplace of Pilsner, that somehow this star could have come to represent their product. But like I said at the beginning when trying to find answers in History one often finds 'mudded and clouded' answers.

(Update May 2010. Much of the data for this article comes from since my blog 'crashed' in late 2007 the original attribution was lost. Please forgive any perceived plagiarism. Future writing will attempt to use MLA format for any references.)  

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL:


The Brewmaster


Supporting Advertisers

The Real Deal

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Brewmaster published on November 17, 2005 2:22 PM.

Healthy Hops was the previous entry in this blog.

There once was a... is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.