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Maß (pronounced [ˈmaːs]) or Mass (Swiss spelling, elsewhere used for dialectal [ˈmas]) is the German word describing the amount of beer in a regulation mug; in modern times exactly 1 litre (33.8 US fl oz). The same word is also often used as an abbreviation for Maßkrug, the handled drinking vessel containing it, ubiquitous in Bavarian beer gardens and beer halls, and a staple of Oktoberfest. That vessel it is often referred to as a beer mug by English speakers, and can be correctly called a beer stein if made of stoneware and capable of holding a regulation Maß of beer.
The word "Maß" can be of either neuter or female grammatical gender. In its neuter form, das Maß, it is the German word for "measure". Its feminine version, "die Maß", is used in southern Germany and Austria to refer to a one-litre glass beer mug or its contents. It is spelt "Maß" or "Mass" (both spellings are allowed) in Germany and Austria, "Mass" in Switzerland. The plural is also Maß.
A stoneware mug is a form of beer stein, another type of vessel which may only be referred to as a Maß if capable of holding a regulation quantity of beer.
In the Southern German areas (Austro-Bavarian), the Maß originally measured 1.069 litres (2.26 US pt; 1.881 imp pt). Other German speaking areas had different measures: in Switzerland between 1838 and 1877 and in Baden until 1871 the Maß was 1.5 litres.
The modern Maßkrug is slightly larger than 1 litre, with a fill line denoting the level to which the beer must be filled, with space above the line for the head to expand. Using mugs without a calibration mark, or with a mark that is below the true 1 litre position, is also prosecuted as fraud. A "Coalition against fraudulent pouring [of beer]" ("Verein gegen betrügerisches Einschenken") in Munich fights for the customer rights of beer drinkers, and is mostly active on the Oktoberfest.
In the more northerly parts of Germany, the Maß has mostly fallen out of use, except for Bavarian-themed events, since beer for immediate consumption there is usually sold in smaller amounts, between 0.2–0.5 litres (6.8–17 US fl oz),
Mugs are frequently decorated with a print of the sign of the brewery.
Some beer gardens and restaurants rent space out to patrons to store their mugs, which often have personalized engravings on their lids. For a small monthly fee the establishment will also wash one's mug.
According to physicist Erich Schuller of the Institute for Forensic Medicine at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, a Maßkrug is an "effective percussion tool" in which each strike is potentially life-threatening. An empty Maß weighs 1.3 kilograms (2.9 lb) and can produce a force of 8,500 newtons (1,900 lbf) in a violent blow, far surpassing the 4,000 newtons (900 lbf) required to break a human's skullcap. However, there were cases in which the Maßkrug yielded. Presumably, these mugs had reduced strength due to wear.
- "Maß, die". duden.de. Retrieved 1 Apr 2015.
- "Maß, das". duden.de. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
- VgbE (German), retrieved 30 Apr 2012
- "Effektives Schlagwerkzeug: Der Physiker Erich Schuller, 62, vom Institut für Rechtsmedizin der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München über Kopfverletzungen durch Maßkrugschlägereien" ["Effective Percussion Instrument": The Physicist Erich Schuller, 62, from the Institute for Forensic Medicine at LMU Munich]. Der Spiegel (in German). September 27, 2010. p. 149. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
- Bernstein, Joshua M. (September 21, 2013). "10 brew-tiful ways to rock Oktoberfest". New York Post. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
- "Weltrekord im Dauer-Maßkrugstemmen". Bayerischer Rundfunk (in German). 11 March 2019. Retrieved October 18, 2019 – via ARD.
- The dictionary definition of Maß at Wiktionary