Wrath of the Keller: The story of the Minnesota State Capitol’s lost rathskeller

Noch ein Bier!

In September of 2013, the St. Paul City Council followed action by the state legislature and approved a wine and malt liquor license for the Capitol. However, don’t rush to the website to check out what’s on tap just yet. At present, alcohol can only be served for receptions or other functions in the space—but it is a start. Perhaps in the future the state’s leaders could enjoy each others’ company again and live out one of the mottoes above their heads:

Dem Aerger nicht, der Freude nur, Steht offen dieses Hauses Thor.

The door of this house is not open to anger, but only to joy.

IMG_4053Malt and Hops Make Fine Mottoes

While not all of the old mottoes in the Rathskeller praised drinking, the majority had kind words for beer, wine, or hospitality in general. A representative sample follows. (Mottoes and translations are from the Minnesota Historical Society website, with alterations by the author.)

Trink und ess, Gott nicht vergess.

Whether drinking or eating, do not forget God.

Malz und Hopfen geben gute Tropfen.

Malt and hops yield good drops.

Im Becher ersaufen mehr als im Bache.

More people drown in the glass than in the creek.

Trink gut und rein, zu viel lass sein.

Drink what is good and pure, but not too much.

Zunächst versorge deinen Magen, Dann trink soviel du kannst ertragen.

After you have enough in your stomach, you may drink what you can carry.

Ein frischer Trank, der Arbeit Dank.

A fresh drink is thanks for the work.

Fröhlich Gemüth und edler Wein Mögen hier oft beisammen sein.

A happy mind and noble wine often meet together here.

Erst schaff dein Sach’, Dann trink und lach.

First do your duty, then drink and laugh.

Esset und trinket, was ihr habt, und denket, was ihr wollt.

Eat and drink what you have, and think what you wish.

Besser ein Rausch, denn ein Fieber.

Better be tipsy than feverish.

(The last motto was changed in the 1930 restoration to: Temperance is a virtue of men.)


Thanks to Brian Pease of the Minnesota Historical Society for information. Other sources include the Historical Society website and numerous StarTribune articles.

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