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Stout beer season at Paulaner's



"Classical" test of stout beer: a beer-soaked bench sticks to the trousers... Painting by Joseph Puschkin

Officially starting on Ash Wednesday, the day after Fasching, Lent is connected to stout beer in Bavaria. Stout beer, called "Starkbier", is brewed with more original wort than usual beers, making for a thicker mash since less water is added. The monks of Saint-Francis-of-Paola monastery at Neudeck-ob-der-Au, better known as "Paulaner" monks, started brewing stout beer – also regarded as “liquid food” in Bavaria – as early as the 17th century. Living on a sparse diet, even more so during Lent, they needed “liquid bread” which wouldn't infringe fasting rules.

The kick-off event of stout season takes place at the Salvator cellar on the Nockherberg (one of Munich's mountains, "Salvator" being the name of Paulaner's stout) in presence of many Bavarian and German politicians, and is broadcast live on the local Bavarian television channel Bayerischer Rundfunk. The first liter of beer, formerly reserved for the prince-elector, is now handed to the Minister-President by the chief brewer calling: "Salve pater patriae! Bibas, princeps optime!" (lat. “Hail, father of our land! Drink, o best of lords!”). However, the "father of the land" is not expected to perform the “traditional” Salvator test anymore – which wouldn't work anyway since the recipe has changed – : In former times, the stout beer was declared strong enough when a wooden bench on which beer had been spilt would stick to a man’s Lederhose upon standing up.

The highlight of the evening is the so-called "Politiker-Derbleckn", a political satire operetta written especially for the occasion and given in the presence of its "victims", high-ranking invitees. If a Bavarian politician is not being made fun of during this show though, no matter which political party he belongs to, it is a sign that he either lacks importance or personality.

Source & more: wikipedia.org/Nockherberg (in German)
Other traditions around the strong bier season: www.muenchen.de/en/BeerCity.pdf