The brewery capital
Almost half of German breweries are concentrated in Bavaria. Specifically, about 630 out of a total of 1,350. In Munich, six giants still survive: Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner and Spaten-Franziskaner. Their beers are exclusively sold in the vast majority of local bars and restaurants, and they are the only ones that participate in the Oktoberfest.
The Starkbierfest is the festival for strong beer. Largely unknown by the general public, it’s held annually during Lent. It’s not a festival for everyone, but it is for the most authentic: they only serve double-malt beer, with an alcohol level of close to 8% and served in litre jugs. It is held at various breweries and the most famous is Nockherberg, the enormous cellar that the brewer Paulaner owns in the centre of Munich. It’s almost an obligatory pilgrimage during what is called the ‘fifth season’. This year it will be held from 26 February to 13 March.
While half of Europe honours Saint George and celebrates World Book Day, on 23 April the Bavarians will take the chance to toast their ‘liquid bread’. It was on this date that the Reinheitsgebot was proclaimed in 1516. As a commemoration, since 1994 it has also been German Beer Day and there are organised tastings and guided tours. In Munich, the Bavarian Brewers Federation stages an event that offers free beer to those who attend.