Gambrinus (/gæmˈbraɪnəs/ gam-BRY-nəs), is a legendary European culture hero celebrated as an icon of beer, brewing, joviality, and joie de vivre. Traditional songs, poems, and stories describe him as a king, duke, or count of Flanders and Brabant. Typical representations in the visual arts depict him as a rotund, bearded duke or king, holding a tankard or mug, and sometimes with a keg nearby.
Gambrinus is sometimes erroneously called a patron saint, but he is neither a saint nor a tutelary deity. In one legendary tradition, he is beer's inventor or envoy. Although legend attributes to him no special powers to bless brews or to make crops grow, tellers of old tall tales are happy to adapt them to fit Gambrinus. Gambrinus stories use folklore motifs common to European folktales, such as the trial by ordeal. Some, of course, imagine Gambrinus as a man who has an enormous capacity for drinking beer.
The often-heard theory for the origin of Gambrinus that he is patterned after John the Fearless (1371–1419) and/or John I, Duke of Brabant (c. 1252–1294) and that by this reckoning, the name Gambrinus is a corruption of Jan Primus ("John the First"),:118:81 is however without foundation, as Gambrinus was originally called Gambrivius, which was derived in the 16th century from the mythical German people of the Gambrivii mentioned by Tacitus.
Origin of Gambrinus
In his magnum opus Annals of Bavaria, German historian Johannes Aventinus wrote that Gambrinus is based on a mythical Germanic king called Gambrivius, or Gampar, who, Aventinus says, learned brewing from Osiris and Isis. In 1517, William IV, Duke of Bavaria had made Aventinus the official historiographer of his dukedom. Aventinus finished composing the history in 1523; the work that he compiled, Annals of Bavaria, extends beyond Bavaria, drawing on numerous ancient and medieval sources. However, it is also a work that blends history with myth and legend.
European anecdote credits Gambrinus with the invention of beer. Aventinus attempted to reconcile this account with much older stories attributing its origin to Osiris, Egyptian god of death. However, Aventinus does not represent Osiris as a god, but as a real Pharaoh of Egypt who visited many lands teaching agriculture in antiquity, as had been recounted by Diodorus Siculus.
In Aventinus' chronicle, Gambrivius was the wife (or paramour) of Osiris' wife and sister, Isis. It was by this association, he says, that Gambrivius learned the science of brewing (cf. myths of the theft of fire).
The 59th stanza of the English drinking ode "The Ex-ale-tation of Ale" evidences a British appropriation of the myth:
To the praise of Gambrivius, that good British king
That devis'd for the nation by the Welshmen's tale
Seventeen hundred years before Christ did spring
The happy invention of a pot of good ale.
According to Aventinus, Gambrivius is a seventh-generation descendant of the Biblical patriarch Noah. By incorporating earlier myths recorded by Tacitus, Aventinus reckoned that Gambrivius was the fifth son of Marso (Latin: Marsus), who was the great-grandson of Tuisto, the giant or godly ancestor of the Germanic peoples whom Tacitus mentions in Germania. Tacitus alludes to an earlier source (Strabo) who lists tribes called the Gambrivii and the Marsi among the peoples descended from Tuisto: the offspring or subjects of Gambrivius and Marsus, respectively.
Gampar claims new lands east of the Rhine, including Flanders and Brabant, and founds the towns of Cambrai and Hamburg. The names of both these towns were theorized to be cognates of Gambrivius, as one of Hamburg's ancient Latin names was alleged to be Gambrivium.
One of Aventinus' sources was Officina (1503), an encyclopedia compiled by French scholar Jean Tixier de Ravisi. This work purported that Tuisto and Gambrivius were giants descended from Noah. But Jean Tixier had only catalogued and reported a conjecture made in the name of the Hellenistic-era historian Berossus, by the fraudster Annio da Viterbo (1498), who had previously used the same hypothesis to postulate an ancestry for the Gauls.
Francophone and Germanophone scholars both reject the other's claim to Gambrinus as an appropriation of one of their own cultural heroes. Aventinus' account did not just establish a claim to Gambrivius, but to a glorious ancestry and heritage. The myths also reimagined Gambrivius as a catalyst for the enlargement of the territory of a Germanic people (the Gambrivii), and made him a divine conduit into Germania for the Egyptians' ancient beer lore.
In 1543, Hans Guldenmundt published a series of 12 broadside prints called Ariovistus ein Künig aller Deutschen (German: "Ancestors and Early Kings of the Germans"). The series includes Tuiscon (Tuisto) and Gambrivius, Charlemagne, and other kings historical and mythological. The heading for Gambrivius translates as "Gampar, King of Brabant and Flanders". Aventinus' contemporary Burkard Waldis (c. 1490–1556) wrote a descriptive verse for each of the 12 kings in the series. The verses for Gambrivius and Tuiscon reiterate what Aventinus recorded in Annals of Bavaria.
Aventinus' Gambrivius myth also contributed to the reverence for Osiris and Isis held by 17th-century European scholars. Perceiving these gods as "culture bearers" enabled a willingness to see historical connections where there were none.
There are several words that both resemble the word Gambrinus and have meanings in some way connected to beer. Such resemblances present possible origins for Gambrinus' name, and clues to his cultural and geographical provenance. The Medieval Latin noun camba ("brewery"), which became cambe in Old French, and which may have yielded the vernacular French noun cam, used by farmhouse brewers in Northern France and the Low Countries for the yoke that supports a brew kettle over the fire. Aventinus' research notwithstanding, it is unknown whether the name of Cambrai, which was a brewing hotspot, is connected to these words or to the name Gambrinus.
19th-century stories about Gambrinus
An often heard etymological explanation for Gambrinus is that it was derived from Jan Primus (John I, Duke of Brabant). This theory was first put forward by German journalist Martin Runkel in 1858, who was unaware that Gambrinus was originally called Gambrivius and that that name had been derived from Tacitus' Gambrivii. According to Runkel's theory, Jan Primus was an alternate rendering of John I: Jan is the Dutch cognate of John. Primus is Latin for "the first". Etymologically, a change from Jan Primus via Gambrivius to Gambrinus would however be hard to explain, and the phrase Jan Primus has yet to be attested in any text predating 1858.
Short stories by Charles Deulin
For his 1868 anthology Tales of a Beer Drinker (French: Contes d’un buveur de bière), Charles Deulin wrote a playful short story called "Cambrinus, Roi de la Bière" ("Cambrinus, King of Beer"), in which "Cambrinus" makes a deal with the Devil. Deulin was a French author, journalist, and drama critic who adapted elements of European folklore into his work. The success of "Cambrinus, Roi de la Bière" led to the 1874 publication of Contes du roi Cambrinus ("Tales of King Cambrinus"), a collection of short stories devoted to the character.
"Cambrinus, Roi de la Bière"
In this, the seminal Cambrinus short story, Cambrinus is an apprentice glassblower in the Flemish village of Fresnes-sur-Escaut, but he believes that he lacks the skill and upward mobility to succeed in glassblowing. He becomes smitten with the master glassblower's daughter, Flandrine. After she rebuffs him, he apprentices himself instead to a viol master, and learns the instrument. His first public performance goes excellently until he catches sight of Flandrine, and flubs his performance. The crowd turns on him violently, but when the case goes to trial the judge, Jocko, is against Cambrinus. When Cambrinus is released he considers suicide, but Beelzebub intervenes in exchange for the promise of his soul. Beelzebub announces, too, that he has killed the judge.
With diabolical help, Cambrinus wins a fortune in games of skill and chance, becomes an irresistible player of the carillon, and becomes the first mortal to brew beer. Cambrinus' music and beer make him very famous, and eventually the king of the Netherlands heaps titles of nobility on him: Duke of Brabant, Count of Flanders, Lord of Fresnes. But even after founding the town of Cambrai, Cambrinus prefers the villagers' honorary title for him: King of Beer. When Flandrine finally approaches him, he rejects her.
After 30 years, Beelzebub sends Jocko the judge for Cambrinus' soul, but Cambrinus thwarts Jocko by getting him drunk on beer, and thrives for nearly a hundred years more. When Cambrinus finally dies, Beelzebub himself comes for his soul, only to find that Cambrinus' body has become a beer barrel.
Gambrinus, King of Lager Beer
Some years after Deulin published Contes d’un buveur de bière, American playwright and blackface minstrel Frank Dumont wrote a loose variation on the story "Cambrinus, Roi de la Bière". In this musical burlesque, titled Gambrinus, King of Lager Beer, Gambrinus is a poor woodcutter to whom "Belzebub" [sic] gives a recipe for an excellent lager beer. In Dumont's version, Gambrinus is joyfully reunited with his love, only to be taken from her by Belzebub.
May Day legend
In another story, which Deulin mentions, Gambrinus and a host of ancient French (or, alternately, Franconian) kings gather each May Day for a midnight feast at a "Devil's table" (German: Teufelstisch) near Grafenberg, Germany.
Because of Gambrinus' significance, breweries, pubs, restaurants, shops, and malt houses too numerous to list have appropriated the character (or his name) for their brands. Even a "beer café" in Tokyo adopted Gambrinus, identifying him with Charles Deulin's character Cambrinus.
In Spain, the brewery Cruzcampo, now a subsidiary of Heineken International, premiered a Gambrinus-derived advertising mascot in 1902, and has kept it ever since. The character was designed by Leonetto Cappiello. Between 1997 and 2009, Cruzcampo opened more than 250 Gambrinus pubs throughout Spain—starting with one in the Basque Country.
Cerveza Victoria was the first beer commercially brewed in Mexico. Its brewer, Santiago Graf, started his brewery in Toluca during the 1880s. He eventually attracted some German investors, and incorporated the Brewery Company of Toluca and Mexico (Compañía Cervecera de Toluca y México) in 1890. In 1907, the company changed the Victoria logo to an illustration of King Gambrinus. Grupo Modelo bought the company in 1935, and has branded Victoria beer with at least two different Gambrinus logos. Today, Cerveza Victoria is marketed as a "Vienna-style" dark lager, and is distributed multinationally.
Franco–Belgian patron saints of beer:
- Amandus (c. 584–675), patron saint of brewers, wine makers, merchants, and landlords (i.e., innkeepers/bartenders)
- Arnold of Soissons (c. 1040–1087), patron saint of hop pickers and Belgian brewers
- Arnulf of Metz (c. 582–640), Frankish patron saint of brewers
- Ceres (mythology), Roman goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility, and motherly relationships
- Demeter, Greek goddess of the harvest, especially grains and the fertility of the earth
- Dionysus, Greek god of the grape harvest, winemaking, wine, ritual madness, and ecstasy
- Ninkasi, ancient Sumerian goddess of beer
- Coremans, Victor Amédée Jacques Marie (1842). "Note sur la tradition de Gambrivius roi mythique de Flandre par le docteur Coremans". Bulletin de la Commission royale d'histoire (in French). 5: 378–388. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
- Walsh, William S. (1915). Heroes and Heroines of Fiction: Classical, Mediæval, Legendary. London: J. B. Lippincott Co. p. 117. OCLC 652491. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
- Rabin, Dan; Forget, Carl, eds. (1998). "Gambrinus". The Dictionary of Beer and Brewing (2nd ed.). Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. p. 123. ISBN 1-57958-078-5. OCLC 40454877.
- Reiber, Ferdinand (1882). Etudes gambrinales: histoire et archéologie de la bière et principalement de la bière de Strasbourg. Paris: Berger-Levrault. OCLC 29620014. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
- Jackson, Michael (1997). The Simon & Schuster Pocket Guide to Beer (6th ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0684843810. OCLC 37929564. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
- Lostbeers.com - Was John of Brabant a beer god?
- Birmingham, Frederic Alexander (1970). Falstaff's Complete Beer Book. New York: Award Books. p. 36. OCLC 121991.
- . doi:10.1007/978-3-662-34091-2 (inactive 2016-04-25). Missing or empty
- Aventinus, Johannes (1615). Annales Boiorum. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
- Park, Thomas, ed. (1813). A Select Collection of English Songs with Their Original Airs, Vol. II (2nd ed.). London: Printed for F.C. and J. Rivington, etc. OCLC 2093558. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
- Johnson, Samuel (1810). The Works of the English Poets, from Chaucer to Cowper. London: Printed for J. Johnson etc. pp. 204–6. OCLC 14021579. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
- Hazlitt, William Carew (1876). Collections and notes, 1867–1876. London: Reeves and Turner. p. 6. OCLC 3637760. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
- Waldenfels, Christoph Philipp (1677). "De Marſo Aſcenæ quinto filio". Selectæ Antiquitatis, Libri XII: De Gestis primævis, item de Origine Gentium Nationumque migrationibus, atque præcipuis Nostratium dilocationibus (in Latin). Nuremberg: Sumptibus Wolfgangi Mauritii Endteri and Johannis Andreæ Endteri Hæredum. pp. 303–304. OCLC 804372376.
- Tacitus, Cornelius. "The Germany and the Agricola of Tacitus: The Oxford Translation Revised, with Notes". Elfinspell. Retrieved 12 January 2014.
- "Ancestors and early kings of the Germans / Gambrivius Künig in Brabant/Flandern (Gampar, king of Brabant and Flanders)". British Museum.
- Braungart, Richard (1911). Der Hopfen aller hopfenbauenden Länder der Erde als Braumaterial nach seinen geschichtlichen, botanischen, chemischen, brautechnischen, physiologisch-medizinischen und landwirthschaftlich-technischen Beziehungen wie nach seiner Konservierung und Packung (in German). München: R. Oldenburg. p. 131. OCLC 494652466. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
- Lediard, Thomas, ed. (1740). The German Spy, or, Familiar letters from a gentleman on his travels thro' Germany, to his friend in England. London: Printed for T. Cooper. p. 164. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
- Compte-rendu des séances de la Commission royale d'histoire, ou, Recueil de ses bulletins. Tome VII (5 septembre - 2 décembre 1843.). Bruxelles. 1844. Retrieved 11 January 2014.
- Schütze, Gottfried (1775). "Gründung und Benennung von Hamburg" [Establishment and Appointment of Hamburg]. Die Geschichte von Hamburg für den Liebhaber der vaterländischen Geschichte, Theil 1 (in German). Hamburg: Johann George Fritsch und Compagnie. pp. 38–9.
- Gotthelf, Friedrich (1900). Das deutsche Altertum in den Anschauungen des sechzehnten und siebzehnten Jahrunderts [German Antiquity from Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Perspectives]. Forschungen zur neueren Litteraturgeschichte (in German). Berlin: Alexander Duncker. p. 20. OCLC 12373106. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
- Rose, Carol (2001). Giants, Monsters, and Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend, and Myth. New York: Norton. pp. 131, 369. ISBN 9780393322118. OCLC 48798119. Retrieved 12 January 2014.
- "Gambrinal". L'intermédiaire des chercheurs et curieux (in French). Benjamin Duprat: 366–7. 25 June 1882. ISSN 0996-2808. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
Nos voisins d'Outre-Rhin qui tiennent fort à ce que la bière soit née chez eux, ne peuvent se résigner à boire un produit ayant un protecteur français!
- Hornung, Erik (2001). "Triumphs of Erudition". The Secret Lore of Egypt: Its Impact on the West. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. p. 104. ISBN 0-8014-3847-0. OCLC 851341608.
- "Mediaeval Latin: Polyptychum of St. Remi". Transactions of the Philological Society: 1899–1902. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co. 1902. p. 618.
- Murray, Joseph Patrick (1950). A selective English-Old French glossary as a basis for studies in Old French onomatology and synonymics, Volume 40. Washington: Catholic University of America Press. p. 50. OCLC 603511454.
- Jackson, Michael (1998). Michael Jackson's Great Beers of Belgium. Running Press Book Publishers. p. 16.
- Anzeiger für Kunde der Deutschen Vorzeit, Neurenberg 1858, p. 179.
- A brief, and not quite accurate, synopsis of this story appears in Walsh, p. 117. It is a modification of a synopsis he wrote for an 1888 issue of Lippincott's Monthly Magazine.
- Malarte–Feldman, Claire L. (2008). "Deulin, Charles (1827–1877)". In Haase, Donald. The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales. Westport: Greenwood Press. p. 263. ISBN 9780313049477. OCLC 192044183.
- Staff writer (1871). "Light and Darkness (December 1871, № 170)". The Atlantic Monthly, Volume XXVIII. Boston: James R. Osgood and Company. p. 652.
- Deulin, Charles (1874). Contes du roi Cambrinus (in French). Paris: E. Dentu. OCLC 9045829. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
- Deulin, Charles (1868). Contes d'un buveur de bière (in French). Paris: A. Lacroix, Verboeckhoven & cie. OCLC 15145437. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
- Dumont, Frank (1876). Gambrinus, King of Lager Beer: A diabolical, musical, comical and nonsensical Ethiopian burlesque. New York: Robert M. De Witt. OCLC 30553238. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- Deulin, Charles (1875). "Gambrinus: A May-Day Legend". In Ainsworth, William Francis. The New Monthly Magazine, Vol. VII (in French). London: E. W. Allen. Retrieved 12 January 2014.
- Schoellhorn, Fritz (1922). Das Braugewerbe und die Brauereien des Kantons Zürich [The Brewing Industry and Breweries of the Canton of Zürich] (in German). Winterthur: Buchdruckerei Winterthur vorm. G. Binkert. OCLC 603538481.
- Cantwell, Dick. "Jan Gambrinus". In Oliver, Garrett. The Oxford Companion to Beer. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 383. ISBN 978-0-19-536713-3. OCLC 706025045.
- "Who's Gambrinus?". gambrinus.jp (in Japanese). Beer Cafe Gambrinus. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
- "Tour of the Gambrinus Brewery for the public". Plzeň: Plzeňský Prazdroj. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
- "La Ley de propiedad intelectual y la reproducción de las obras en internet" [Intellectual Property Law and the Reproduction of Works on the Internet] (in Spanish). Seville: Foro Marketing Sevilla. 27 June 2013. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
- Schiefenhövel, Wulf; Macbeth, Helen M. (eds.). "Beer Acceptance in Andalusia". Liquid Bread: Beer and Brewing in Cross-Cultural Perspective. New York: Berghahn Books. p. 85. ISBN 978-0-85745-215-3. OCLC 701026674. Retrieved 3 January 2014.
- "Compañía Cervecera Toluca y México". Modelo Museum of Science and Industry (in Spanish). Toluca: Grupo Modelo. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
- "Secretaria del despacho de instruccion publica y bellas artes (25 diciembre 1907)". Diario Oficial: Organo del gobierno constitucional de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos, Vol. 93 (in Spanish). p. 735. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
- "Progresos de una gran empresa cervecera Toluca y México S.A. en el año de 1907". El Mundo ilustrado, vol. 15, tomo 1 (in Spanish). 5 January 1908. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
- Arredondo, Benjamin (4 December 2011). "Gambrinus el (no santo) patrono de la cerveza" [Gambrinus, the patron (not saint) of beer]. El Bable (in Spanish). Salamanca. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
- "Cerveza Victoria". gmodelo.com.mx (in Spanish). Grupo Modelo. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
- "Rosé de Gambrinus". Cantillon.be. Brussels: Brasserie Cantillon Brouwerij. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
- McFarland, Ben (2009). World's Best Beers: One Thousand Craft Brews from Cask to Glass. New York: Sterling Innovation. p. 101. ISBN 978-1-4027-6694-7. OCLC 311759800. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gambrinus.|
- Ancestors and early kings of the Germans, a series of 12 German broadside prints at the British Museum
- Vogdes, Walt. "Gambrinus, King of Beer". SteinCollectors.org. Stein Collectors International. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- Dornbusch, Horst (21 September 2004). "Born to Be (Beer) King". BeerAdvocate. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- Reiber, Ferdinand (1882). Etudes gambrinales: histoire et archéologie de la bière et principalement de la bière de Strasbourg [Gambrinal Studies: History and Archaeology of Beer, and Principally the Beer of Strasbourg] (in French). Paris: Berger-Levrault. OCLC 29620014. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
- Grand–Carteret, John (1886). Raphaël et Gambrinus; ou, L'art dans la brasserie [Raphael and Gambrinus, or, Art in the Brewery] (in French). Paris: Louis Westhausser. OCLC 9498286. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
- van Vaernewyck, Marcus (1784). "Van Gambrinus, den ſevenſten Koning der Duytſche; van de ſtigting der Stad Memphis, en andere dingen". De Historie van Belgis, of Kronyke der Nederlandsche oudheyd, Deel 1 (in Dutch). OCLC 64358462.
- van der Noot, Jan (1975). Waterschoot, Werner, ed. De "Poeticsche werken" van Jonker Jan van der Noot: analytische bibliografie en tekstuitgave met inleiding en verklarende aantekeningen (in Dutch). Gent. Retrieved 17 January 2014.