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Starkbierfest. Löwenbräukeller, 27 February 2004

Fasching has come and gone, which signals the start of Starkbierzeit. Last Friday, we were fortunate enough to get seats for the opening night of the Starkbierfestival at Löwenbräukeller.
So, what the hell is Starkbierzeit?

Ok, so way back when, the monks would fast furing lent. That meant liquids were ok, but solids were definitely out of the question. Since the monasteries funded themselves by brewing beer for the masses, they decided to make a stronger (which means higher calorie) brew to help them make it through until Easter. This beer was called a Doppelbock, had an alcohol content of about 7.5% (normal beers ran at 5% or less), and provided enough oomph to keep them all happy (and tipsy). Doppelbock beers, are strong (stark), so this time was called the Starkbierzeit (strong beer time).

Talk about a time to be a monk.

Every year, on the Friday after Fasching, Löwenbräu releases their Triumphator Starkbier at their Starkbierfest, which runs from then until April 4. Every night, the festhalle is filled with revelers, listening to traditional music, watching traditional dance, participating in a 500 pound stone lifting competition, and finally relaxing to the same band, now playing Elvis and ZZ-Top.

Now on to the pictures…

Starkbierfest 2004
Our crew this year for Starkbierfest.

Starkbierfest 2004
A picture of the hall

Starkbierfest 2004
Traditional Allgau dancers, chopping wood and dancing

Starkbierfest 2004
The stone lifting competition. To the left is the stone – 500 pounds of rock. Each day, there is a winner, and at the end of the festival, the winners compete to determine the festival winner. I was less than a centimeter away from qualifying this year. Next time…

Starkbierfest 2004
This really was a picture of the band, but Barbara just looked so darned happy..

Starkbier 2004
The beer. Ok, this is actually a Helles, or a lighter version of the beer. I ended up having a full gallon (3.75 liters) of the normal Doppelbock (Dunkles Starkbier – or dark strong beer) over the 5 hours we were there.

Starkbier 2004
More of the “shoe slapping” dancers.

Starkbier 2004
Elvis has arrived.

Starkbier 2004
And this year’s winner, lifting the stone over 56.5 centimeters, then pausing – while keeping the stone up with one hand – to drink some starkbier before setting it back down. The second place winner lifted it 0.5 centimeters. Third place 0.3. The others couldn’t even really get it off the ground. In retrospect, I think I am happy I didn’t qualify.

Posted in Pictures.

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