Patrick Certain talks to Avril-Ann Braganza about the beer fest that has religious roots
If you're thinking the crowd and noise at Oktoberfest is too much too handle, you might want to head to Munich for the Starkbierfest or the Stong Beer Fest. This fest is held during starkbierzeit, a period during the Lenten season, between the carnival and Easter. Often referred to as Oktoberfest's little brother, it is similar to the Oktoberfest, the only difference being that it is smaller and has a religious background.
As history goes, the Paulaner monks, who came to Munich from Italy in the 17th century, brewed the first thick and near-chewy doppelbock (a darker version of the Bavarian Bockbier), during Lent. The fasting monks were allowed to consume only liquids and so they would make plenty of liquid from their grain. Brewed according to the recipe for Maibocks, but stronger, it was called 'Salvator' after the Saviour. Initially the beer could be served only to individuals who belonged to the monastery, but towards the end of the 18th century, Bavarian Elector Karl Theodor relaxed the rules. While Lent may not be as rigorous today, the tradition still continues and the Starkbierzeit or the Strong Beer Festival in Munich is world famous.
As winter ends and spring begins to creep around the corner, locals and tourists alike celebrate Starkbierzeit. Every brewery has their own starkbier (strong beer) with its own name, but the most popular is Salvator, the strong beer of Paulaner Brewery am Nockherberg, in Munich. In it's fifth season, the festival lasts for two weeks from St. Joseph's Day (19th March). You can grab a strong beer with 7% more alcohol, which is only available at this time of the year in Munich. For those who prefer something lighter, you can also get yourself a normal 'Helles' beer. Find a table indoors or outdoors depending on the weather and let your spirit soar!