Gambrinus, but that’s what they all say. Beer drinkers should know who he is, or should at least have heard of him!

So, who or what is Gambrinus? Well, apart from anything else, he’s the little character on Cruzcampo beer cans and bottle labels. He is also the Cruzcampo company mascot.

Up until fairly recently, he was a chubby man on the labels, but he has become a little more ‘healthy’, or ‘trim’, these days.

Gambrinus is the unofficial patron saint of beer, or brewing, and gives his name to a number of beers or breweries throughout the world.

  • Rosé de Gambrinus is a flavoured beer brewed by the Cantillon Brewery of Brussels, Belgium.
  • The Spanish brewery Cruzcampo, a subsidiary of Heineken International, employs Gambrinus as its corporate mascot.
  • There is a Gambrinus beer in the Czech Republic
  • There is Gambrinus of Mulhouse, Alsace, France
  • The Gambrinus Brewing Company of Oshkosh, Wisconsin
  • The Gambrinus Brewing Company of Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A.
  • The Gambrinus Company of San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A.
  • The Gambrinus Malting Corporation of Armstrong, British Columbia, Canada

There appears to be some debate as to exactly who Gambrinus was, although the connection with beer and brewing remains a constant in all cases and seems not to be in dispute.

The most popular theory is that ‘Gambrinus’ was a King of Flanders (and the Belgians certainly know how to brew beer!!!) and that his birthday is April 11th. More specifically, it is thought to be King John the Fearless, who lived from 1371 to 1419. Again, many believe him to be the inventor of hopped malt beer.

Others favour ‘Gambrinus’ being a cup-bearer in the court of Charlemagne, putting him between 742 and 814.

Latin scholars argue that ‘Gambrinus’ could derive from cambarus (cellarer) or ganeae birrinus (one who drinks in a tavern).

The Czech company Plzeňský Prazdroj, who brew Gambrinus beer, believe the name refers to Jan Primus or John I, Duke of Brabant.

So we’re back to Belgium and a King. Hardly surprising, really. Recent studies suggest that golf originated in Flanders, as did the bagpipes, so why not Gambrinus and hopped beer? I’ll drink to that!

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