Things to Know When Attending Starkbierfest in Munich
Thinking of planning a trip this fall to Munich to attend Oktoberfest? If it’s an authentic German festival you’re after, then I’d recommend thinking again. It’s true that Oktoberfest may be one of the world’s largest parties with over 6 million people in attendance over the 16-day event. However, how many of those people do you think are actually German? Not as many as you’d believe. Instead, consider attending Starkbierfest, Munich’s lesser-known beer festival.
Starkbierfest is a great way to explore the beer culture of a city that is world-renowned for its beer. And luckily for travelers, Munich is one of the top 10 cheapest cities in Europe to drink beer.
Haven’t Heard of Starkbierfest Before?
Perhaps the low prices stem from the fact that Starkbierfest is also known as Munich’s “secret” beer festival or Munich’s “Fifth Season.” The festival’s religious roots date back 1627, when the Paulaner Monks were seeking a way to help relieve the citizens of Munich from the pangs of hunger that accompany Lenten fasting.
To do so, they brewed a Doppelbock, a beer thick enough to substitute for food and strong enough to make people forget that they were actually hungry. They named the resulting beer Salvator, which translates to savior. The city of Munich has been celebrating Lent in debauchery ever since. Thus, you can understand why Munchens don’t laud Starkbierfest as they do Oktoberfest. It’s not exactly PC to announce to the world that they celebrate a religious season by getting smashed on liters of high-ABV beer.
The beer itself weighs in somewhere between 7 and 8 percent ABV. Examples can be found both in Munich and beyond. Just look for the suffix –ator at the end of a beer name (Triumphator, Celebrator, etc).
The Best Place to Drink a Festival Doppelbock Is at Starkbierfest in Munich.
Starkbierfest differs drastically from Oktoberfest. It isn’t held at the city fairground, but in the breweries themselves. All of the breweries celebrate Lent by brewing the famous Doppelbock for sale in the beer hall and gardens, and several offer accompanying festivals. The two most well-known are held at Paulaner Wirtshaus on the Nockeherberg and Löwenbräukeller.
The season kicks off at Paulaner, though as it was the Paulaner Monks who started the tradition almost 400 years ago. City leaders and celebrities gather as the mayor knocks the cap off the first barrel for the festival’s official barrel tapping. The party continues as locals celebrate the season at the brewery’s organized festival.
Paulaner’s festival takes place on weekdays from 2 p.m. to 10.30 p.m., and on weekends from 11 a.m. to 10.30 p.m. The cost is €2 before 5 p.m. (3 p.m. on weekends) and includes admission only. After, admission is €11 but includes a voucher for a liter of beer. Reservations aren’t necessary because the grounds are massive, but it’s always safe to make one if you want a guaranteed spot in the hall.
Löwenbräukeller hosts a smaller but equally entertaining event. It takes place daily in their beer hall from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m. The cost is slightly higher at €16.50, but many say it’s worth it due to the band that plays: Jetzendorfer Hinterhofmusikanten. One last thing: the event at Löwenbräukeller will sell out, so book your tickets in advance.
Have an awesome time at Starkbierfest, but be careful! Those beers will sneak up on you.
*Post sponsored by GoEuro.