Sheer versatility …

30.09.2015 14:56

Sheer versatility …

I can still remember it clearly – when as a child I went to a pub with my parents, I always got bored listening to the adults’ conversations.

I can still remember it clearly – when as a child I went to a pub with my parents, I always got bored listening to the adults’ conversations.

So I looked for something to do to banish this boredom. And mostly this was on the table right in front of me: beermats.

You’re doubtless familiar with it: you can use beermats, provided they’re square, to build pyramidal towers, if you possess the requisite patience and a steady hand. Three storeys, four storeys, I stacked the beermats on top of each other, and woe betide anyone who knocked against the table and caused the edifice to collapse!

Beermats, coasters, tegestological collectibles or whatever you want to call them, are not, of course, produced in order to help small children pass the time away in pubs. Their primary purpose placed under the glass, is to protect the guests’ clothes from condensate drips, and placed on top of it to guard the beer against unwanted insects inside the glass.

And they’ve been doing this for quite some time: the beverage mats first appeared in the th century. But not in the form we’re familiar with nowadays. Back then, people used felt mats for their beer mugs. Felt, however, is not totally suitable as a mat for placing under chilled beverages. It absorbs the condensate, true, that inevitably forms on the outside of the glass and likes to run down it but because of its textile structure it quickly became moist and unhygienic.

So people opted for a mat made of cardboard. It was a German called Robert Sputh who at the end of the thcentury invented a method for producing what are known as wood felt sheets, which were made from compressed paper pulp. Casimir Otto Katz, another German, finally in began to produce the beer mats we’re familiar with today. They’re made of fresh spruce wood, which is ideally suited by reason of its high absorbency, and has proved its worth over long years of use.

Beermats have over the course of time proved to be multifunctional. Because they are always in pubs placed under every kind of beverage and are accordingly present throughout the entire visit, they are ideally suited as an affordable advertising medium. That’s why beverage producers (mostly breweries) liked to print their logos on them. What’s more, it’s become customary in some pubs to record the number of drinks ordered by means of lines on the beermat, to make it easier to calculate the bill later on. Nor should we forget, of course, that they can be repurposed to build a house of cards, just the way I loved to do when I was a kid. In fact, when I look back, I would really like to build one again, to see how many storeys I can manage to stack. You too?

Or do you perhaps even collect beermats? We’ve accumulated quite a few of them here. Which of them do you like best?

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