Let's Party! 7 Steps to throwing an epic DIY Starkbierfest
Are you tired of not being able to wear your dirndl? Are you getting the “dirndl itch?” I know I am!!!
The end of winter and beginning of spring is a pretty boring time of year when it comes to dirndl-wearing. In the US, some folks can wear their dirndls to spring club dances or a Hunter’s dinner… but for the most part we’re all impatiently waiting for June when the weather warms up and the dirndl wearing can really begin. So if you are like me and having a hard time finding an opportunity to wear your dirndl, let’s make one!
Throw your own Starkbierfest!
Besides the Oktoberfest, the Starkbierfest is the second big beer festival in Munich and the perfect opportunity to soak up some Munich tradition and learn more about the art of brewing. Starkbierfest always begins on the third Thursday after Ash Wednesday. This popular Munich tradition of Starkbier started with monks - the pious Paulaner brothers-of-the-cloth started brewing their Starkbier in 1651. They dubbed the stuff 'Flüssiges Brot' (liquid bread) as it helped them survive their 40 days of Lent fasting with full bellies and good spirits. The modern-day version of this festival is meant to help people forget the harshness of winter and celebrate the arrival of the spring season.
While this tradition only seems to be upheld by some brewers here in the US, I think we should all collectively make it a thing!!
“But Erika, how do I throw my own Starkbierfest for my friends and family if I’m not familiar with the festival or a brewer?” Funny you should ask! I’ve worked with a few people who specialize in throwing parties, backyard Oktoberfests and brewing beer!
Step 1 – Prepare a Guest list. Put together a quick guest list of some of your best friends and family that are also itching to wear their dirndls and lederhosen (aka the fun ones).
Step 2 – Send out invites. There are a few ways to do this… If you are planning something quickly you can send an evite or a group text. Don’t forget to encourage your guests to dress up for the event! Dirndls and Lederhosen are always the best attire for a Starkbierfest, but you can also dress up with some German or Bavarian inspired accessories. Jewelry, hats, scarves etc, all make great additions to a basic party outfit! Here are my top picks for dirndls, blouses and accessories for a Starkbierfest:
Step 3 – Plan a Starkbier tasting! Pick up some “Starkbier” from the local liquor store, some smaller glasses from the dollar store to create some flights of beers to taste.What exactly is a Starkbier you ask? Starkbier aka Strong Beer’s "strength" 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". I reached out to a local brewer, Andreas Biller from the Old Irving Brewing Co. to educate me a bit more about Starkbier and where to get it here in Chicago (but you can also find these suggestions at specialty liquor stores all over the US). Here’s what he said:
I always love Starkbier season and the best thing now is that most of the beers are available all year round. There are two beer types in the Starkbier category—a lager version and a weizen beer version. In the category of Dopplebock’s, first and foremost is Paulaner Salavator, the originator of the style. That said, any beer with an “-ator” ending coming from a brewery in the Munich area, will be of a similar style. Examples include Spaten Optimator, Ayinger Celebrator, and Augistiner Maximator. A couple of others to note, are Weihenstephaner Korbinian, or Eku 28 (at one time this beer was the strongest lager beer made in the world, with an ABV over 11%.) from Kulmbach in Frankonia. Most of these are available at Binny’s, Beer Temple, or Bitter Pops. [Again you can find these at your local specialty liquor stores.] For a local choice, I can recommend On Tour Brewing’s Spectator (It won the GABF Silver medal for Best Doppelbock in 2017 https://www.greatamericanbeerfestival.com/the-competition/winners/) or Metropolitan Brewing’s Generator. The other style popular during the Starkbier season, is Weizenbock. Most popular in this style are Weihenstephaner Vitus, Schneider Aventinus, Avntinus Eisbock, and Erdinger Pikantus.
Step 4 – Prepare a few appetizers. The best foods that pair well with heavier, darker bock beers are sharp cheeses, spicy foods, and German food in general. When pairing food and wine the go to advice is, “if it grows together, it goes together” and the same goes for beers. So visit your local delicatessen and pick up some good ol’ wurst und käse, maybe some fresh pretzels and you are good to go! If you wanted to go all out, you could check out this recipe for homemade Bratwurst from my girl, Sophie, from dirndlkitchen.com
Step 5 – Plan your outfit! In Munich, attendees of the Starkbierfest wear Dirndls and Lederhosen, so why wouldn’t you wear the same for your DIY fest? If you don’t already have a dirndl, I highly recommend anything from Rare Dirndl [wink, wink]. If you need lederhosen, I recommend checking out Ernst Licht or Bavarian Specialties.
Step 6 – Get some Starkbierfest décor. The Starkbierfest in Munich looks pretty much like the Oktoberfest tents, so if you throw a yearly Oktoberfest like my friends at Backyard Oktoberfest, Scott and Jessica, you can re-use your Oktoberfest décor or you can order some of my recommendations from Amazon: Table Cloth Bavarian Pendent Banner Glass 1 liter Beer Stein Also Click here to check out my DIY Starkbierfest Pinterest Page for some decor inspiration
Step 7 – Have Fun!!! Why throw a party if you are not going to have fun? Whether you plan to have some games like charades, minute-to-win-it style games, drinking games, or cards… or just want to hang out with your friends, just relax and enjoy the fruits or your labor.
If you think all of this is WAY to much work… I have another way to throw your own DIY Starkbierfest. Go to a local German Restaurant! Give your fav German restaurant a call and see if they have any of the beers that fall into the Starkbier category on tap or in bottles. If they do… perfect! Reserve a big table for your friends and just enjoy a night out tasting the different beers, but don’t forget to dress the part too!
Have you been to Starkbierfest in Munich? Would you throw your own Starkbierfest for your friends and family! I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
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As always, ideas and opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own. - Erika