I cannot resist sharing the following piece from Muskingum Legends: With Other Sketches and Papers Descriptive of the Young Men of Germany and the Old Boys of America, by Stephen Powers (1871) with you all today. The chapter referred to by the author is “Student Rambles in Prussia.”
I will end this chapter with a translation of part of a curious document I came upon in my rambles. It is entitled "Leipsic Beer Code," and is the body of rules accumulated from tradition upon the subject of beer-drinking in the Leipsic University. It will show better than a treatise could to what a system the devotees of Gambrinus have reduced their orgies:
I. Subjects of The Code.
1. All persons, under the operations of this Code, are divided into beer-boys and foxes.
2. A fox becomes a beer-boy, either by the lapse of two semesters, or by beer-trial. The beer-trial is conducted in the following manner: the song beginning,
"In Leipzig angekommen,
Als Fuchs bin aufgenommen,"
is sung; and if, after the first and the last stanzas, the candidate drinks a whole, and after each of the others a half-pint, he is solemnly proclaimed a beer-boy.
3. All kinds of beer are constitutional under this Code, but other drinks are not recognized.
II. Drinking Challenges.
4. To increase the jollity of drinking-bouts, it is an immemorial custom for the beer-boys to drink to each other about a round-table, even if it is only the plain beer-table of the jovial student, for thereby the reproach of the "solitary swig" is removed. When Müller says to Schulze, "I come to thee, I challenge thee, I drink to thee a half, a whole," or so, Schulze will be so carried away with enthusiasm that he will involuntarily accept in the usual words.
5. As to the acceptance of the quantity named, Schulze is bound under all circumstances, both morally and by the beneficent rules of the beer-shame, to do so at once, and in the following words: "Profit, drink it, swig it, it's right." Mere winking or nodding does not suffice. Even the expression "Swig it double" is not forbidden, only Schulze is not to guarantee that it is actually done. If Shulze delays to respond "Profit," etc., then Müller can demand it of him with the words, "Schulze, say 'Profit,'" etc. three times. If Schulze, after this demand, does not at once accept the quantity named, he goes into a beer-shame. If Müller drinks before Schulze accepts, the latter is not bound to follow up. But if Schulze has his throat so well in order that he feels the need of a drink, he cries out with a loud voice, " Müller, I follow you up," whereupon the latter gives vent to his unspeakable joy.
6. One is not bound to accept a challenge from a beer-debtor. The constitutional quantity ranges from a quarter-pint to two wholes.
7. Should several beer-honorable souls, as Müller, Schulze, Lehmann, etc., wish to express their liking for someone, they blow him in the air with so or so many wholes or halves,—that is, each of them drinks the same quantity to Richter, for instance. Richter must now drink this quantity to each of them in return, at intervals of five beer-minutes (three minutes). Foxes cannot blow in the air this way without the participation of at least one beer-boy.
8. To promote universal jollity at the beer-table is the object of the very useful custom called "Drinking to the World." Richter, after drinking his quantities, retaliates with the same (at least a half-pint) upon every one at the table except Müller, Schulze, and Lehmann.
9. A beer-duel is a duel in which the weapons are beer, and the conqueror is he who first drinks a certain quantity in a constitutional manner.
10. As in every duel, so here, there must first be an offense given. After every offense a challenge must be given within at least five beer-minutes. The offense is of two sorts, "sage" and "beer-baby."
11. In case a beer-boy is called "sage," he can either challenge the offender, or, when he thinks the offense was involuntary, or proceeded from some other cause, he can reply with "Doctor." The other must then challenge him, or reply with "Pope." After " Pope" a challenge must be given. In case of a duel on "sage," each party drinks a half; "Doctor," a whole; "Pope," two wholes.
12. When a beer-boy is called "beer-baby," a challenge must be given, and each party drinks a half.
13. Each principal must choose a second, and the second of the challengee an umpire. The challenger's second commands, "Let the Popes (or Doctors) seize!" the challengee's second says, "Attack!" the other replies, "Out!" In a duel on "beer-baby," the challengee chooses an umpire, who equalizes the weapons. The challenger says, "One;" the challengee, "Two;" the challenger, "Three;" whereupon they begin to drink.
14. The umpire declares him in beer-shame who drinks unconstitutionally, or who was the last to say "beer-baby." To drink unconstitutionally is, to begin to drink before the word "Out," or "Three;" to slop out beer (bleed) during the drinking; to leave a little (called Philistine), enough to cover the bottom of the mug; or, to break the mug in setting it down.
15. Seconds and umpires must be beer-honorable beerboys, and the umpire is bound on Grand Cerevis to decide according to his best knowledge and belief.
IV. Orders Ex Pleno.
16. Every beer-boy has the right, in certain cases, to order a fox to drink as a punishment. This is called an order ex pleno. It is usually resorted to when the foxes carry their tails too high, and long experience has demonstrated it to be the best means for keeping them in a proper state of humility.
17. The order ex pleno is given in the following manner: The beer-boy calls out to the culprit fox, "Müller, drink ex plena'' once. If the fox delays, this order is given a second and third time, and if he still refuses, he is at once declared in a beer-shame. Idle excuses are not to be accepted. If the beer-boy calls out, "It is remitted," the fox is released from further drinking; but if he compels him to drink it all, he is bound to drink at least one swallow with him, under pain of the beer-shame.
18. Should a fox think he was ordered to drink ex pleno without sufficient ground (which is hardly conceivable), he can, after he drinks his quantity, ask the other why he ordered him to do it. If he still thinks himself wronged, he can then take oath before any impartial beer-honorable beer-boy, and through him have a beer-court assembled.
19. In beer-villages, that is, in every place outside of Leipsic, except in corps-bouts and regular beer-cellars, a man of a higher semester can order one of a lower to drink
expleno. If the latter refuses, the other can punish him by shaking his mug of beer out over his head.
V. Grand Cerevis.
20. The Grand Cerevis is the highest form of affirmation in all beer-cases. It is, therefore, to be given as the last and indefeasible testimony, when no other kind can be adduced for lack of witnesses.
21. Since the Grand Cerevis is principally employed when jollity has reached its acme, by reason of the unlimited swigging, and when, by consequence, it is no longer to be expected that general attention will be paid to what is passing, it is necessary, in order to prevent a frivolous use of it, that it should never be given negatively. In other words, one must never affirm on Grand Cerevis that another did not do so and so; but, at the utmost, that he did not hear or see him do so and so. One Grand Cerevis must also never be given against another.
22. The only case where the last clause above given is violated is as follows: When one accuses another of having given his Grand Cerevis falsely, he must establish that fact through two beer-honorable witnesses, who are bound on Grand Cerevis to declare truthfully what they have seen or heard. If the defendant is proven guilty, he goes into the highest beer-shame.
I cannot follow up this quaint document further. It contains eighty-three sections, describing beer-courts, beer-conventions, beer-punishments, the beer-shame, etc. There are twenty-two beer-crimes which lead to the beer-shame, seven which conduct to the sharpened beer-shame, and four which terminate in the perpetual beer-shame, or gallows, at which point the offender may be forcibly ejected from the drinking-bout, if he refuses to enter a beer-trial for the sake of drinking himself back to a beer-honorable estate. Although hanging on the gallows, he can still return, if he will drink enough within a certain number of minutes.
As the recipe for the day I give you a nice cake:-
Two pounds of flour;
One pound of sugar;
One pound of butter;
One teaspoonful of cinnamon;
A wine-glass of rose-water.
Beat the butter and sugar together, whisk the eggs and add them with the flour, cinnamon and rose-water. Roll the dough thin, cut it into cakes and cover them with sweet almonds, blanched and cut in half.
Bake them on tins in a moderate oven.
A good find on the old German student beer customs which could be an intricate code with numerous variations depending on the university and student association. I don't know if anything like this survives in the Germany of today. In the period, the typical beer was 3.0-4% ABV, less on average than a light beer of today.
Thus, not to countenance the heavy consumption which the students occasionally did, but the beer was fairly weak. In England at the time, a pale ale was 6.0-6.5% ABV and mild ale (unlike modern mild)started at 7%, so it would have been impossible to have prolonged sessions with this kind of strong beer.
Somehow, I cannot imagine women devising such a competition. Although, one for eating chocolate competitively might be imagined. I think the men had too much time on their hands!
Hi Elise - Ah! but these were (male) university students, who have always had time for beer games! I agree about the chocolate though!
You are right, of course, Gary. Beer and ale were daily beverages for all at that time, and generally weaker. I should have noted that - thanks for reminding me!
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