Munich Beer Fest Threatened by Virus and the Brewer is Upset. Bavaria health minister has the same tough job as officials everywhere when it comes to stopping the spread of the coronavirus. Melanie Huml also has to deal with Munich’s upcoming Strong Beer Festival.
On Friday, Huml’s efforts to look out for public health drew a very Bavarian backlash when the Paulaner brewery’s Andreas Steinfatt blasted her for trying to stop his cherished annual event. Paulaner calls the festival Munich’s “fifth season,” dating back to 17th century monks who created an especially potent brew, Salvator, to drink in the lead-up to Easter on the premise that drinking calories doesn’t count as breaking the Lenten fast.
The event is an institution, bringing together hundreds of politicians from across Bavaria and beyond for a kickoff party -- scheduled for Wednesday -- that’s televised across Germany.. Along with singing and dancing and the signature double-bock beer that has 7.9% alcohol by volume, it features comedians who roast elected officials.
During dress rehearsals this week, Steinfatt said, he had taken precautions such as procuring extra disinfectant and making sure no employees had recently traveled to high-risk areas. Then, on Friday morning, he learned that Huml had recommended that politicians not attend Wednesday’s event to avoid infection. Because of that, the event will probably be canceled, he said.
“I am tired, disappointed and totally frustrated,” Steinfatt said Friday at a press conference. “I see some surprised eyes,” he added, looking at the crowd. “To be perfectly honest, I feel the same way.”
Concerns about the coronavirus are rising as the number of cases worldwide surpassed 100,000. Bavaria had 117 confirmed cases of coronavirus and Germany more than 600 as of Friday.
“Protecting the population is the top priority for us,” Huml said in a statement after Steinfatt’s press conference. “We are following the medical recommendations of the Bavarian coronavirus crisis emergency group. These apply, too, to an event like the Strong Beer Festival.”