The Strong Beer Festival – Why You Need to Visit Munich in March
I’ve got a suggestion for you, just hear me out: spring break… in Bavaria. What do you say? It may not be Mexico or the Caribbean but taking into consideration Munich’s surfing, the nude sunbathing, and the three-week-long mini Oktoberfest (Marchfest?) and you won’t be able to tell the difference. Besides, after a couple litres of the Strong Beer Festival’s namesake brew and you won’t know what continent you’re on anyway.
WHAT DO I MEAN BY ‘STRONG BEER’?
In what can be called one of the world’s greatest religion loopholes, ‘strong beer’ (starkbier in German) was developed by 17th century Paulaner monks to drink during Lent when eating solid food was a holy no-no. Dopplebocks, primarily Paulaner Salvator which was first brewed in 1651, quickly became known as ”liquid bread” due to the amount of “solids” found in the beer—sugars, proteins, etc. For example, a litre of Paulaner Salvator has 183 grams of solids which equals roughly a third of a loaf of bread. Clearly these dopplebocks can handle their fair share of heavy lifting.
But yeah, just as you’d imagine from a beer with the same number of calories as a Pizza Hut Supreme 6” personal pan pizza, the stronger than average alcohol content (7.5%) has a li’l something to do with the nickname as well. Want to quickly identify strong beers? Look for the “-ator” suffix. To name a few: Paulaner’s Salvator, Augustiner’s Maximator, Spaten’s Optimator, Ayinger’s Celebrator, and even Aviator—the dopplebock offering from Airbräu, Munich’s airport brewery.
WHAT IS THE STRONG BEER FESTIVAL?
The strong beer festival is locally known as Munich’s “fifth season” and takes places between Ash Wednesday (my favourite Wednesday, obvs) and Easter. That means in 2018 Munich’s second largest beer festival will be going down March 2nd – 25th. It’s a beer bash in honour of these monks and their holy contribution to the most sacred of beverages. It’s a party dedicated to dopplebocks. It’s a celebration of Celebrator!
Starkbierfests are hosted by many of Munich’s breweries and beer halls but the largest (I should really say ‘strongest’, right?) takes place in the Paulaner Nockherberg—the site of the original Strong Beer Festival which I personally refer to as the Paulaner Knockoneback. The Paulaner Nockherberg, basically just a raised terrace named after some rich people from history, has room for 2,500 party people and is located just ten minutes south of Munich’s city centre by car. Twenty-nine minutes if you’re walking. About an hour if you’re already a couple litres deep. Actually, just do yourself a favour a take the U-Bahn.
At the Strong Beer Festival you’ll find nothing short of the full-on Oktoberfest atmosphere: music and dancing, party-goers working to get more miles out of their dirndls and lederhosen, traditional Bavarian food (like actual solid food you’ll need to chew), and gemütlichkeit galore.
Reservations aren’t required but they can be made easily through the Paulaner Nockherberg website and the entrance fee is just 12,90€ – that’s your 2€ admission + a 10,90€ Salvator. Even though this isn’t called the Weak Beer Festival, they also serve helles, radlers, and soda for those who just can’t hang. But regardless of your tolerance, all drinks are served in only the strongest of vessels (naturally)–the one litre earthenware tankard. (What I’m hinting at here is that no one will be able to tell what you’re drinking so be not afraid to look like a wussy, you wussy.)
The Strong Beer Festival is a great way to stave off the Oktoberfest-withdrawal and celebrate beers that are heavy enough to keep you warm in the chilly spring (so maybe nude sunbathing is off the menu?). And if you can survive the Starkbierfest, all the others will be a piece of cake—also about the same number of calories as a Salvator.
Grab a spot on one of our beer festival tours so you can work your way up to this one!
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