At Oktoberfest Duluth, a beer in hand brings ... painRICK LUBBERS COLUMN: It’s no coincidence that “masskrugstemmen” sounds like an ancient torture device. That’s because after about two minutes of “stein holding” — the English translation — you’re ready to start spilling family secrets.
By: Rick Lubbers, Duluth News Tribune
It’s no coincidence that “masskrugstemmen” sounds like an ancient torture device. That’s because after about two minutes of “stein holding” — the English translation — you’re ready to start spilling family secrets.
The feat of strength and verve disguised as a drinking game demands that participants hold steins full of beer at arm’s length for as long as possible without lowering their arms, dropping the mugs or even spilling any beer.
Sounds easy, and it is … for about 20 seconds.
The game with German roots will be part of another German-themed event today and Saturday at Tycoons Alehouse & Eatery, 132 E. Superior St. — the third annual Oktoberfest Duluth.
“I don’t know how long stein holding goes back, but it’s big now. It’s really sweeping beer festivals all over,” said Brad Nelson, 42, who carries the curious title of director of culture and propaganda with Tycoons and its parent company, Just Take Action Inc. “We were looking for a strongman competition that we could do indoors. We did our first one last year, and it was a riot.”
“A keg toss was our feat of strength, but (we) went to this because we can’t toss kegs in here,” said Dave Hoops, 45, master brewer for Just Take Action.
While masskrugstemmen may never be included at the World’s Strongest Man competition, a generous amount of strength and steady nerves are required to succeed at it.
The glass stein alone weighs about a pound. Pour in 33.8 ounces, or roughly 4 pounds, of beer and it essentially becomes a 5-pound dumbbell.
At first your hand and arm easily hold those 5 pounds in place. But the hand soon begins to quiver and a once-steady arm starts to waver.
Then that trembling hand sloshes the beer dangerously close to the rim, and a thin, intense line of pain begins flowing from your shoulder toward the tipsy stein.
Soon gravity asserts itself and you’d swear that an anchor has been tossed into the stein. Veins you didn’t know existed start popping out of your neck and forehead.
It’s a fair measure of how well you can hold your alcohol. As it turns out, I can hold mine for only 2 minutes, 5 seconds.
During a quick stein-holding session Wednesday afternoon at Tycoons, Nelson clocked in at 1:56, while warehouse manager Jason Krause, 33, held out for 2:31. Hoops lifted his stein for 2:44, but Robert Lillegard, web/calendar editor at Duluth-Superior Magazine, bested us all at 2:55.
According to stein-holding websites, the world record is a muscle-numbing 19 minutes. I fell short of that by 17 minutes, but my pencil-pushing arm still feels like it’s been stuffed full of cheese and my hand tingles as if it’s fallen asleep permanently.
The top stein holders this weekend can walk away with more than sore arms, however. Masskrugstemmen champs will win Growler of the Month Club passes and receive a free half-gallon of beer every month for a year.
That’s good, because it might take that long to recover.
Contact News Tribune sports editor Rick Lubbers at firstname.lastname@example.org or (218) 723-5317. Follow him @ricklubbersdnt on Twitter.