Is it me or does attending Oktoberfest sound like a cluster? I’ve heard horror stories of overcrowded beer tents, gross displays of public drunkenness, and general pandemonium. Then there’s the reservation system. You need a German engineering degree to reserve a spot at one of the more desirable tents. Odds are, you’ll still be seated amongst other revelers from around the world. No thanks. I’ll set my sights to one of these smaller, and still authentic, German beer festivals.
Starkbierzeit in Munich
I just happened to be in Munich for Starkbierzeit – Munich’s Fifth Season. Starkbierzeit takes place during Lent and is a celebration of Doppelbock. As tradition holds, Paulener monks brewed the high-octane beer to help relieve the hunger pangs felt by the Catholic devout during Lenten fasting. What better way to numb the pain than with an 8% ABV beer, right?
While breweries throughout Munich brew their version of the Lenten brew, the main festival takes place at Paulaner-Keller in the Nockherberg district of Munich.
Bergkirchweih in Erlangen
The “berg” is a traditional Bavarian style beer festival that dates back to 1755. The festival takes place amongst the city’s many kellars (beer cellars). Back when the city founded the beer festival, brewers would store barrels of beer in cellars built into the hillside. Today’s festival resembles a giant pub-crawl as revelers hop from kellar to kellar, all of which now have outdoor
International Beer Festival in Berlin
Berlin’s famed beer festival is a bit of a departure from a traditional German beer festival. Modeled closer to a craft beer festival in the United States, breweries from Berlin and around the world serve up over 2,000 beers for attendees to sample. The traditional liter steins are replaced with .2 liter mini-steins so that festival-goers can have a diverse tasting experience as they meander along what locals refer to as the Biermeile (Beer Mile).