History of Starkbier Festival: the Munich beer festival

Bill Petro
5 min readMar 4, 2022

Starkbierfest runs from March to April, some biergartens as early as March 3. The heart of this festival is in Munich, Germany, specifically at Paulaner am Nockherberg Brewery, where it all began and lasts about two weeks. It is unlike its more well-known sibling Oktoberfest in a few ways.

Little Known

Outside of Germany and Munich in particular, it’s not widely known, except to German ex-pats or beer lovers. Or historians who have visited Munich in the Spring.

Narrowly Observed

There are perhaps half a dozen locations in Munich that celebrate it.

Misunderstood Starkbierfest

What is Starkbierfest?

It’s the festival for Starkbier.

What is Starkbier?

It’s German for strong beer.

What is Strong beer?

Some assume the name refers to its higher alcohol content, but that’s not the case, though it is more alcoholic, about 6.5% to 14% by volume. Not your father’s 3.5% beer.

Instead, the name is due to the higher gravity, or Stammwürze of the beer, with its concentration of solids like proteins, starches, and sugars… the wort.

Starkbier contains 180g of solids or the equivalent of a third of a loaf of bread. The monks who created it were originally dubbed flüssiges Brot, or “liquid bread.” It’s liquid nourishment.

History of Starkbierfest

When did it start?

The story goes back to the monks of Munich. Indeed, the German word for the city, München, means “by the monks” in reference to the Benedictine monks who ran a monastery in what is now the Old Town of Munich.

At the beginning of the 17th century, the Paulaner monks of Munich, in observance of the 40 days of Lent, did not eat during the daylight part of the day.

Bill Petro

Writer, technologist, historian. Former Silicon Valley tech exec. Author of fascinating articles on history, tech, pop culture, & travel. https://billpetro.com