SALAMANDER – the brand stands for the power of meeting over beer. It is the of friendship and respect. The name goes back to a tradition established in early 19th century in Wrocław. Salamander is the alternative to mass beer, which, promoted in a childish manner, depreciates beer value.
SALAMANDER is a beer drinking tradition practised till this day among German student university corporations during various celebrations. The tradition goes back to the first decades of the 19th century when it was established, and then popularised, among student communities in Wrocław and Halle.
The Salamander toast is a way of showing respect to one of the persons at a table. The ritual involved no words. The toast itself symbolized friendship and loyalty. In ancient times friendship went through the trial by fire, while Salamander was considered its god. It was believed that Salamander was born in fire, which in turn had a cleansing power. What alcohol symbolized was precisely that purgative force.
There are many interpretations of what Salamander is. On top of the described one, there is also the ritual of paying tribute to gods by means of alcohol. Some others believe that the word Salamander does not refer to any ancient creature but is a mere word play (abbreviations) that stands for the feeling of community and respect.
This is what the historical ritual looked like: at the word of command, the guests stood up holding their beer jars and drank it to the bottom in one go at a given pace (countdown: 1 – 2 – 3). Next, they would sit down shuffling their jars against the table. The honoured person would then thank for the toast and drink their beer in one go as well. That was followed by everybody singing a traditional song together. During one gathering the Salamander toast would take place no more than once which made it even more special for the honoured person. Initially, the toast was proposed with a shot of vodka (brandy) but it was replaced with beer as early as in the 1830s.
As craft brewery, we focus on what’s most important in relationships: friendship and respect. Salamander also means positive attitude. There is no better way of getting to know each other than having a good beer together. The SALAMANDER brand celebrates quality meetings. It slows our life down, releases tensions and shows us how to be more open-minded.
- The SALAMANDER brand sponsors Saturday tours in Brewery. That’s when we host groups of friends who enjoy a good chat and have fun.
- SALAMANDER Black IPA was brewed to honour the Wrocław Beer Trail, which is one of the oldest events of its kind that brings together beer enthusiasts and multitap beer bars in Wrocław.
- SALAMANDER Hoppy Violet Potato Lager was brewed to celebrate the 3rd edition of the Beer Geek Madness, which opened up the opportunity to get to know German craft scene as well as the German craft beer industry and its historical contribution to improving beer quality in WRCLW.
Beer has always been part of everyday life, a sort of social bond. Meeting over beer used to be more than a get-together; it was a ritual. In the times when the Salamander toast was invented, i.e. the 1830s, there were over 100 breweries in Wrocław. Such places were the heart and soul of the academic life. Students would meet over beer to lead heated debates and make long- lasting friendships.
Student university corporations brought together students of similar backgrounds and mind- sets. Polish corporations had foundations in Philomat and Philaret organizations. The values included: patriotism, friendship and self-development. Corporations had their own rituals, badges and mottoes. As many renowned personalities and national heroes belonged to these organizations, they provided opportunities for intellectual growth and networking. What is more, they kept the youth out of trouble. In Germany such student corporations have been re-established whereas in Poland we’re still in process of learning to appreciate the role of regional communities.
This is the reason why we organize numerous events in the Brewery and the pub on Długosza Street. We help in organizing meetings, reunions, anniversaries and birthdays. We encourage and promote many initiatives in Karłowice, Psie Pole, and WRCLW. We build beer bridges that allow people to get to know each other and exchange ideas.
The beers brewed under the SALAMANDER brand are new wave beers as the brand’s objective is to broaden our horizons and shape beer tastes.
- Salamander Pale Ale – 12.5% extract, alc. 5.0% vol. – “the best brewpub beer in Poland”
- Salamander AIPA – 16.0% extract, alc. 6.8% vol. – “tribute to the American hops”; “a complete revelation; that’s what this style should be about”
- Salamander Strong Witbier – 16.0% extract, alc. 6.0% vol. – it earned the name of one of the leading wheat beers in Poland only a month after it made its debut
- Salamander American Wheat – 11.5% extract, alc. 4.6% vol. – “American-style wheat”
- Salamander Wheat Porter – 13.0% extract, alc. 4.8% vol. – “British porter redefined”
- Salamander Black IPA – 15.5% extract, alc. 6.8% vol. – brewed for the 3rd edition of the Wrocław Beer Trail
- Salamander Hoppy Violet Potato Lager – 12% and 5.3% – the essence of German brewing traditions in a craft version; the first in Poland winner of a medal at The 2015 Brussels Beer Challenge (11/2015)
We’d like to thank Krzysztof Popiński, PhD, Adjunct Instructor at the Department of Philosophy and Economic History, Faculty of Economic Sciences at Wrocław University of Economics, for many inspirational meetings and for helping us in documenting the ritual of the Salamander toast. An expert in traditions of Wrocław breweries from the turn of the 19th and 20th century, Popiński is also the author of the above quoted publication on the 19th century students from the University of Wrocław, and the co-author of the already legendary book: “Beer in Wrocław – from the Middle Ages to the Modern Times” edited by Halina Okólska from the Historical Museum, a branch of the City Museum of Wrocław.
We’d like to recommend an interview with Krzysztof Popiński conducted by Beata Maciejewska:
- Friedrich Schulze, Paul Ssymank, Das deutsche Studententum von den ältesten Zeiten bis zur Gegenwart, Leipzig 1910 p. 250, 445 – 446.
- Edgar Hunger, Curt Meyer, Studentisches Brauchtum, Bonn u. Stuttgart 1958, p. 48 – 51.
- Peter Krause, “O alte Burschenherlichkeit”. Die Studenten und ihr Brauchtum, Gratz 1975, p. 143 – 144.
- Friedrich Kluge, Werner Rust, Deutsche Studentensprache, v. 2, red. Theodor Hölcke, Historia Academica, no. 24 – Schriftenreihe der Studentengeschichtlichen Verienigung des CC 1985, p. 151 – 153.
- Krzysztof Popiński, Borussia, Lusatia, Marcomania…. The world of student university corporations, beer pubs and duels. Students of the University of Wrocław 1871 – 1921, Wrocław 2002, p. 61.
- Toast Salamander – https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salamander_(Ritual)
- Student university corporations – https://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corps_(korporacja_akademicka)
- History of Wrocław – http://www.wroclaw.pl/historia-wroclawia
- 2nd edition of the Reunion of the Former Employees of Wrocław Breweries – https://100mostow.pl/blog/2015/03/21/rodzina-znowu-razem/
- Wrocław tastes – The differences between craft and commercial beer brewing. smakiwroclawia.pl/video
- Meeting the German craft scene at the BGM3 – https://100mostow.pl/blog/2015/09/12/beer-geek-madness-3/