We brand geeks at MarkIt to Market occasionally like to explore the history of interesting trademarks. A recent visit to Germany inspired a look into the history of the Störtebeker beer brand, which derives its name from one of the more colorful figures from German history and lore -- Klaus Störtebeker.

Störtebeker, who lived from 1360-1400, was a for-hire privateer who later turned to pirating for personal profit. Störtebeker’s moniker is a nickname meaning “empty the mug with one gulp” – only the “mug” in Störtebeker's case held four liters. Although his name alone makes Störtebeker an excellent beer mascot, he was also a very successful and ruthless pirate. When he was eventually captured, legend has it that one of the masts of his ship was found to have a core of gold.

The most famous Störtebeker exploit is also his last. When he was finally captured and sentenced to death by beheading, Störtebeker asked the mayor of Hamburg to release as many of his cohorts as he could walk past post-beheading. According to legend, Störtebeker’s body arose from the chopping block and walked past eleven of his men – and would have kept going, had the he not been tripped by the evidently annoyed executioner. The mayor did not honor the agreement, and proceeded to execute his eleven companions.

Although he didn’t claim to be “the most interesting man in the world,” Störtebeker was a real person, whose exploits inject an aura of adventure into the beer that bears his name. Fittingly, Störtebeker beer labels bear a dramatic image of a pirate ship traversing stormy seas.