Oktoberfest isn’t Munich’s only bodacious beerfest, you know. In fact, fall isn’t Munich’s only beer festival season. Half a year before the start of Oktoberfest you’ve got Starkbierfest in Munich, also known as the Strong Beer Festival.
Thanks to some ancient monks, Munich residents get to spend their Lent period drinking a specially-brewed, quite heavy beer collectively known as doppelbock. And because this is Munich, they’ve turned this act into an unforgettable festival experience.
Maybe you’ll be visiting Munich not during Oktoberfest season but still want to see what all the ‘fest fuss is about? Have no fear—there are festivals all year!
1. Starkbierfest in Munich takes place in the spring
Many think of autumn as the only beer festival season in Germany but that is so, so wrong. There are actually similar festivals all year long and Starkbierfest claims the spring.
Though it’s still a little chilly out, the likelihood you’ll have better weather during your visit in the spring is much higher than visiting in September or October. And who doesn’t love a healthy amount of sunshine with their suds and sightseeing?
Also, Starkbierfest taking place in the spring makes visiting Munich at this time a perfect Spring getaway. Call it “Spring Break” if you wish, but we all need a vacation after enduring another rough winter, am I right?
2. It’s a more affordable time to visit Munich
If you ask us, Munich is a great destination no matter when you visit. However, if you’re keen on checking out the Munich beer festival scene, Starkbierfest is the time to do it.
The two weeks of Oktoberfest is the city’s highest priced period of the entire year, a fact that can discourage many visitors. However, visiting Munich during Starkbierfest you’ll pay as little as a third of Oktoberfest prices for the same hotels.
3. Starkbierfest takes place at the breweries themselves
Rather than a collection of beer tents in one central location, Starkbierfest takes place at the actual breweries. Each of these breweries provides a unique Starkbierfest experience all their own. And while beer tents are great, nothing beats partying at the source.
And let us be clear, these are anything but small beer halls. Think: Oktoberfest beer tents, but with permanent walls and fixtures. This is definitely an exciting way to experience a German beer festival.
4. There are almost no foreigners
Since Starkbierfest is not as well known outside Munich as Oktoberfest, it’s pretty much a locals-only event.
Being the somewhat of a hidden gem that it is, visiting Starkbierfest in Munich will truly help you experience life as a Munich local—without the shenanigans of hordes of foreign visitors. All the shenanigans here are of the Bavarian type.
5. Try a different kind of beer
The beer served at Starkbierfest in Munich may not be what you’d expect. Instead of the standard Munich lager we’ve all come to know and love, we are now drinking doppelbock.
Invented by the monks a long time ago in order to survive during Lent without eating (yes, a diet made up completely of beer) is the doppelbock. Doppelbocks are known as “strong beers” (German: starkbier), so called because of their richness in calories. However, a higher caloric value does equal a higher alcohol content, so it all works out.
Munich doppelbocks range in alcohol values from 7.5% (Augustiner) to 8.1% (Hacker-Pschorr) and, yes, are still sold by the liter, believe it or not. You can distinguish a doppelbock from a more unleaded type of beer because their names end in “-ator.” Local examples are:
- Paulaner Salvator (the original doppelbock)
- Spaten Optimator
- Airbräu Aviator (from Airbräu, the Munich airport brewery with air-themed beer names)
- Löwenbräu Triumphator
- Augustiner Maximator
- Hofbräu Delicator
- And Hacker Pschorr Animator
If you’re down for something a little different and a lot heavier, you must check out Starkbierfest in Munich at least once!