Traditionally, the time in between Ash Wednesday and Holy Thursday is used for fasting. Nevertheless, even for monks this is sometimes hard – for example for the Paulaner monks in the 17th century, who weren’t allowed to consume solid food.
Luckily for them, beer – which in Bavaria is often referred to as “liquid bread” – was not forbidden during times of fasting. Bock, a strong lager, has thus a long history as a source of nutrition for Bavarian monks. The “Doppelbock” (double bock), an even stronger version of traditional bock, was first brewed in Munich in 1629 by the Paulaner monks. Unfortunately in the beginning it was not very tasty. This only changed in 1770, when Barnabas Still – a qualified brew master – entered the monastery. Ten years after, the Paulaner monks were officially licensed to sell their “Salvator” to the citizens of Munich – something they had already done before and which by tacit agreement had been ignored by the authorities.
Since then, a lot of breweries in Bavaria started producing Doppelbock similar to the Paulaner’s “Salvator”. Their alcoholic strength ranges from 5% to 12% and most of them end on “-ator”, e.g. Maximator (Augustiner), Animator (Hacker-Pschorr), Aviator (Airbräu) or Celebrator (Ayinger).
The “Starkbierzeit”, the fasting time in which the Doppelbock is normally brewed and sold, became an important part of Bavarian culture. Especially the tapping of the first barrel on the Nockherberg is a “must” for real fans.