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Starkbier is a strong beer which is consumed in Germany during Lent. The "strength" of the beer is not referring to the alcohol content, instead it describes the concentration of dissolved solids: the starch, sugars, proteins and minerals. The technical name for these solids is the "Wort".

Starkbierfest - Annual beer festival in March/April

This being Germany, the supreme land of rules and regulations, you'll probably not be surprised to learn there are laws governing which beers may qualify as Starkbier. There are two types of Starkbier: Bockbier and Dopplebock. Bockbier must be at least 16% wort whilst Doppelbock must be at least 18%. The famous "Salvator" Starkbier brewed by Paulaner weighs in at 18.3% wort. It's a Doppelbock. This means that for every liter of Starkbier, if you boil away the water and alcohol you have 183 grammes of solids remaining. Or, in layman's terms, one Mass (liter) contains roughly the same amount of Stuff as 16 loaves of bread. Hence: liquid food. For the monks, fluid doesn't break fasting rules.

Although the "Stark" in Starkbier is nothing to do with the alcohol content, the alcohol levels are indeed higher. A Bockbier is 7% whilst the Salvator Doppelbock is 7.5%. This is in comparison to the 5% for a normal beer.

Don't mention this to a Bavarian or they won't speak to you again but Starkbier is not actually a Bavarian creation. The first Doppelbock was brewed in 1352 up in Hannover, North Germany (Einbeck Bock Beer). The monks at Munich's Paulaner monastery only caught on in 1773 when the famous Brother Barnabas came up with his Salvator receipe. This same brew has remained largely unchanged for more than two centuries. Originally the monks were forbidden to serve Salvator to anyone outside the monastery. This particular rule was quickly repealed in 1780 because the monks never obeyed it anyway.

Whilst the Palauner Salvator is the most famous of the Munich Starkbiers, the other breweries also have their own versions. Löwenbräu have a brew they call "Triumphator". The Augustiner have "Maximator". And the Airport brewery, can you guess? Yep... Aviator. Not kidding.


The Starkbierfest, although celebrated throughout Munich, is quite big at the Paulaner am Nockherberg in Giesing,. Their Festsaal has capacity for 3,000 pissed up punters and is decorated in the style of an Oktoberfest tent. A Mass of Starkbier costs 7.30 Euro. A Mass of any other drink costs exactly the same - Spezi or even table water! Entry is 1.50€. After 5pm (3pm at weekends) entry is 8.30 Euro for which you also get a beer voucher.
  • Monday to Friday, 2pm to 11pm. Saturday and Sunday, 11am to 11pm. Entry costs €1.50.
  • Paulaner am Nockherberg Hochstraße 77, Giesing, U1/2 to Kolumbusplatz then walk up Nockherstraße to the top of the hill
  • Löwenbräukeller Nymphenburger Strasse 2, Neuhausen U1/7 Stiglmeierplatz
  • Unionsbräu Einsteinstraße 42, Haidhausen
  • Augustiner-Keller Arnulfstrraße 52. U/S-Bahn Hauptbahnhof
Starkbieranstich -- Politisches Derbleck'n

Like the ceremony surrounding the tapping of the first Oktoberfest beer, the tapping of the Starkbier has its own traditions. The Politisches Derbleck'n is only for invited guests, but should be broadcast live on BR3 television. If you don't get made fun of in the annual Singspiel, you're nobody.

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