A new study has found the Bavarian “strong beer” festivals in March, 2020 led to an extrapolated 1200 COVID-19 infections in this German federal state.

A study by the Helmholtz Center in Munich examined how the “Strong Beer” festivals in the state of Bavaria held in March 2020 affected COVID-19. The results published in the Deutsche Medical Wochenschrift are clear. “Significantly more cases” have been registered caused by both the strong beer festivals and the Bavarian local elections according to Matthias Wjst, an expert on lung diseases.

According to study results an extrapolated 1200 COVID-19 infections were directly linked to the beer festivals in Bavaria. The effect was greater in counties which held two or more beer festivals.

Around 3700 infections are also due to the Bavarian local elections in mid-March.

If the Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder had banned these festivals early on, a significant amount of virus spread could have been avoided. The festivals went on till March 17, 2020, which was when the state implemented bans on events and from March 21, 2020 there were national lockdown measures.

Söder should have instructed the district offices in the beginning of March to cancel the strong beer festivals,” said Ludwig Hartmann, chairman of the Green parliamentary group, as per DE24 News.

The Prime Minister shouldn’t have left the local people alone with this difficult decision.”

Ludwig Hartmann, chairman, Green parliamentary group, Bavaria state parliament

What are strong beer festivals?

The  Starkbierfest – translated as strong beer festival – in Bavaria is entrenched in a deep-rooted alcohol norm. The strong beer is said to have originated from the early 1600s by monks who brewed it for the lent season. The beer was first not allowed for use for anyone else. Then Bavarian rulers began consuming this beer by 1700s and in 1780 the laws were changed and the beer was made available to the public. A festival surrounding consumption of the beer was created and remains to this day. The festival involves consuming large quantities of strong beer, which is stronger in alcohol content that other beers. Germany has a deep rooted alcohol norm, such as the strong beer festivals that were not even suspended during a pandemic, which is pervasive and drives the country’s massive alcohol burden.


Der Spiegel: “Deutschland – Coronapandemie

Der Spiegel: “Bayerns fatale Liebe zum Starkbier

DE24 News: “Coronavirus in Bavaria: Study shows strong beer festivals as an infection driver

Culture Trip: “A Brief History Of The Munich Starkbier Fest