The Big Munich Beer Festival You’ve Never Heard Of Kicks Off In March

Food & Drink

Everybody has heard of Oktoberfest. That’s the biggest beer festival in the world and the 2023 edition set new attendance records.

Lesser known, but perhaps more fun (with better beer and without the tourist crowds), is Munich’s Starkbierfest.

“Starkbier” simply means “strong beer”, but in reference to these historically monastic Lenten brews, starkbier is also known as “fastenbock” or “doppelbock.” According to legend, monks would forgo solid food during Lent, surviving solely on beer. Special beer would be brewed by the monks for that purpose — stronger, richer and darker to sustain the monks during their fast.

All of the major Munich breweries make one and they can be recognized by their names, which typically end in “ator”. The most famous and original is Paulaner’s Salvator , but Ayinger makes Celebrator, Augustiner makes Maximator; Löwenbrau makes Triumphator, Spaten makes Optimator, Hacker-Pschorr makes Animator and Hofbrau makes Delicator. Doppelbock’s range from 7% ABV to 10% ABV (compared to a more typical 5% ABV for “regular” beers).

Traditionally, Starkbierfest starts at Paulaner am Nockherberg with a comedic roast of dignitaries and politicians, including a keg tapping by Munich’s mayor. In 2024, that VIP event was held on February 28, but Paulaner am Nockherberg will officially host Starkbierfest for the public starting today, from March 1 to 24.

Paulaner’s and the other breweries’ -ator beers may be available throughout Munich outside the Paulaner am Nockherberg dates, since doppelbocks may be drunk for the duration of Lent. All of the major breweries have beer halls that serve their doppelbocks during Starkbierfest:

  • Ayinger Bräustüberl (Celebrator) Starkbierfest runs from March 1 to 24.
  • Augustiner-Keller (Maximator) is celebrating Starkbierfest from February 22 to March 23.
  • Hacker-Pschorr Donisl will serve Animator from March 1 to 23.
  • Hofbraukeller hosted official ticketed events serving Delicator on February 23 and 24.
  • Löwenbraukeller will serve Triumphator from March 1 to 23.

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