Forget Football, It's Steinholding Season

Masskrugstemmen, or beer Steinholding, has made its way stateside.

NFL football kicks off this week, or so I'm told by the weirdly numerous, perennially stressed-out Eagles fans in my life. That's all well and good, but today I learned about my new favorite sport: Masskrugstemmen, or beer Steinholding.

What is Steinholding? Why, my good fellow, it's exactly what it sounds like. In this traditional Bavarian strength contest, competitors hold a full one-liter beer stein out in front of their bodies with a straight arm. Whoever holds the stein the longest—with proper form!—is the winner.

How long can the average lager-guzzling human hold a large beer stein? Per the U.S. Steinholding Association (a real organization!), the average male competitor lasts "somewhere in the 3-5 minute range," and women can typically hold the steins for between one and two minutes. "If you can go longer than that, following all of the official competition rules, you should definitely find out where to compete in Steinholding so you can take a shot at qualifying for a higher level of competition," the organization writes.

In terms of "higher levels of competition," you can find Steinholding competitions in most major cities. (There are at least four in the Chicago area alone.) These competitions range from small-scale independent events to major events for big-time competitors—like the current U.S. Men's National Recordholder, who held a stein for 21 minutes and 17 seconds in 2018.

Of course, the official Steinholding rules are many, the steins are heavy (about three pounds each prior to being filled), and Steinholding judges are cruel masters. Here are a few of the rules, pulled straight from the U.S. Steinholding Association rulebook:

  • If any amount of beer spills or drips off of the stein, the competitor is disqualified. (During outdoor competitions or humid conditions, judges should be sure to differentiate between dripping resulting from condensation or sweat, and dripping resulting from beer spillage.)
  • Athletic compression clothing is acceptable, however stiff or supportive clothing (such as a bench press shirt) may not be worn.
  • The thumb may not rest on top of the stein handle; it must rest on the other fingers.
  • Limited arching of the back is tolerable, however only minimal leaning is acceptable. In the vertical plane, the competitor's elbow must never cross behind the front of the hips or the front of the ankle of either foot.
  • If you need a break from watching men smash into each other on the football field this weekend, you'll know where to find me.