Gambrinus – Beer Man, Beer Myth, Beer Legend

Over the years any large brewing companies have tried to use their marketing to control the faiths of beer long before modern marketing tv and radio ads for beer. There was one face of the brewing world who was absolutely legendary throughout Europe. He actually probably didn’t exist. But his reputation is one of jovial and positivity. Today we are going to dive into the story of St. Gambrinus, King of Lager beer.

For more information on the important figures in beer, history check our St. Patrick Day History – Beer History.

The story of the legend

An image of St. Gamrbrinus holding a mug of beer.
Credit: https://www.vancouverisawesome.com/food-and-drink/king-gambrinus-king-of-beers-vancouver-2018-1936856

The first thing you should know about Gambrinus is that he’s not actually a saint at all. He is often erroneously called the Patron Saint of Beer. But he is neither a saint nor a religious figure in any way. It is believed his persona was confused with traditional medieval saints that were associated with him.

The legend of Gambrinus depicts him as always holding a mug of beer or having a keg nearby. In one version of the tale, it is said that he himself had invented beer and gave it to the people of Bavaria. Although the legend doesn’t give him any special powers storytellers would often attribute to him to bless crops to help them grow or to brew beer that could heal the sick.

Gambrinus stories often involve classic European folklore structures. The source of this legend is rather uncertain. The earliest confirmed the written account was by a German historian from the 15th century. It is mentioned that Gambrinus is based on mythical Germanic Kind that learned brewing from Osiris and Isis.

At the time the medieval study of history Osiris and Isis were known by European scholars. Often times when medieval historians would record the folklore and myth of their time they didn’t know exactly where that myth came from. They would add in the Osiris and Isis as bearers of culture. To medieval scholars, the mention of Osiris indicated a great historical significance to the myth where the actual origins of the story are unknown. Gambrinus was said to be the 7th generation of biblical prophet Noah and a distant relation to the god Mars.

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