Though he’s often called the “patron saint” of brewing, King Gambrinus is neither a saint. Nor a king. Nor an actual person.
Historians believe he is a conflation of other historic figures, who as far back as the 16th century was credited with the invention of beer. By the 1800s, his name and visage were adopted by Belgian, Dutch, Czech and other European brewers as a symbol for their craft.
German brewers who emigrated to America brought along Gambrinus, and several – notably Pabst – erected statues. There was a giant Gambrinus statue on display over the entrance of the Brewers Hall at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. And he made an appearance on the label of Stoeckle Beer from Delaware’s Diamond State Brewery
According to Delaware brewery historian John Medkeff, at least two companies specialized in manufacturing Gambrinus statues for American breweries. The one that stood above Wilmington’s Diamond State brewery, he said, was crafted by J.W. Fiske & Co. of New York.
Only 5 remain intact, he said, including one at Boston Beer’s plant outside of Allentown.