~ by Maria Benner
One evening, while we were in Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Germany last month, we were wandering down the narrow, cobblestone streets, looking for a good place to sit down for a beer. When we saw the Brewery Star hanging above a door of a restaurant, we immediately decided that it would be the right place for beer. The establishment had been a brewery several hundred years ago, but now was just a restaurant. The Brewery Star remained from the days when the place was a brewery, sometime around the 1600s.
Inside the restaurant we found more information about the ancient symbol. Here’s what we learned.
Beer can be seen as an alchemical concoction combining the four elements: Earth (grain), Water, Air (carbon-dioxide), and Fire (boiling). Beer, more than any other fermented beverage, is rooted in alchemy traditions and the belief that the brewer is descended from the alchemist is reflected in folk beliefs.
Thus, the symbol of the alchemists, the hexagon made up of two superimposed triangles, became the brewers’ trademark. Numerous medieval and early modern manuscripts depict a six pointed star as a symbol of fermentation.
The Brewery Star dates back to antiquity and originated in India where it was a symbol for the cosmic unity of male and female. Moreover, the Brewery Star is identical to the Seal of Solomon, the Star of David, or the Jewish Star.
Alchemists and brewers fused this symbolism with the theory of the four elements: Earth, Fire, Air and Water, which were placed in a cosmological context with the four quarters of the sky and four segments of a day. To the brewmaster the brewery star represented the inherent connectedness of the elements he used to brew beer and reflected the seasons of the year through the brewing and festivities around beer.
Scott has painted the Brewery Star once in this oil painting of 2XIPA by Southern Tier Brewing Company, which he painted during the Year of Beer Paintings. The original painting, and limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.