We welcome celebrations of all kinds, and the April 11 birthday of the patron saint of beer is a great reason to hoist a brew. King Gambrinus is more mythical than man, but that just adds to the intrigue of the icon of beer.
Songs, poems and stories have been dedicated to Gambrinus, whose penchant for beer became the stuff of folklore. King Gambrinus is believed to have originated in Western Europe in the Middle Ages, but he is likely a combination of several people – John I, the Duke of Brabant (1252-1294) in Brussels, and John The Fearless, a Duke of Burgundy (1371-1419), being two primary candidates.
John I may be the most likely candidate to have inspired the figure of Gambrinus because the name is a linguistic variation of Jan Primus, which means John the First. Say Jan Primus several times and it comes out sounding like Gambrinus. You may also see him referred to as Gambrivius, Cambrinus and Camprinus. Brewers in the 19th century used his image and often erected statues of the king with a large stein of beer in hand.
Whatever the name, spelling or origin, one thing is certain: King Gambrinus is synonymous with beer – specifically those who love beer. For that reason, we want to toast the king on his birthday. But how do you toast a king with super powers, one who was said to make crops and hops grow? A man who was bestowed with the title of King of the Brewers?
Let’s start with the namesake brewery, The Gambrinus Company, which holds itself to the highest standards in quality. The company is well known for its Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas, which produces Shiner Bock and Shiner Premium, two full-flavored lagers that would satiate a king.
Follow Shiner with a name suitable for a ruler in Miller Fortune, a premium golden lager with a rich, malty aroma. Brewed by MillerCoors, we think King Gambrinus would especially approve of the Cascade hops and deep golden color.
Since the unofficial but popularly designated patron saint of beer was thought to originate in Western Europe, particularly what is Belgium and the Netherlands, let’s also raise a glass of Blue Moon Belgian White for Gambrinus. This ale, brewed by Blue Moon Brewing Company, was inspired by a brewmaster who studied in Belgium. It is a delicious concoction of Valencia orange peel, oats and wheat with depth of flavor suitable for an icon who lives on because of how much he enjoyed beer.
Gambrinus also, according to legend, had a way with the ladies. So let’s finish our salute with a St. Pauli Girl Lager, a beer rich in taste and history. This German beer by the St. Pauli Brewery originated in the 17th century and its ingredients, including Ice Age glacier water, still follow a German law for quality set forth in 1516. It is truly fit for a king.
So, fill a mug – Gambrinus often was depicted with a frothy one – and toast the beer legend. History dictates that we drink today. And, as always, do so responsibly. Cheers to the king!