You didn’t really think the city of Munich was going to make us wait until autumn for a beer festival, did you?
The Starkbierfest, or Strong Beer Festival, take place every year for a few weeks during Lent. Drinking beer doesn’t count as breaking a fast, you see, so rumor has it that the monks invented this weighty beer as a form of nourishment to consume when they were fasting for Lent. The ‘strong’ in the beer’s name is supposed to refer more to its gravity than its alcohol content, but at around 8% it’s not the weakest beer out there, either.
Various local breweries open their banquet halls for the Starkbierfest, but the only one we’ve been to so far is the one at the Paulaner brewery. Some friends had a table reservation for Saturday, and naturally we took them up on this offer to get to know the local culture a bit more intimately.
In order to claim a reserved table on the weekend, you have to arrive by 2pm. The entire scene at this hour was entirely civilized – just like at a large restaurant which seats 2,000 people. There was live music, heavy German food, and, of course, a lot of Starkbier, served in liter krugs.
A couple hours later, the band changed from one with a tuba to one with guitars, and the audience started showing signs of life. Slowly, at first – only a couple lone dancers popped up at a table here and there. A couple popular songs were played which got the whole room singing along. And then, all of a sudden, it seemed like everyone was dancing on the benches. Everyone.
The crowd got bigger and bigger, and we had to get a little defensive of our prized seats whenever someone in our party got up. I can’t really blame people for trying to poach a table spot – those krugs were heavy. Not exactly something I’d want to drink out of while standing around mingling.
Speaking of drinking beer, naturally we did a lot of this, but I have to admit I only had one Starkbier before switching to the Helles. Starkbier is fine in small doses, but it’s too sweet for my tastes.
There seemed to be more people wearing Lederhosen and Dirndls than not, making me wonder if we’re going to have to break down and get our own Bavarian clothing to wear to such events. What do you think?