Biergärtens are popular gathering spots in Munich for easy conversation, good food and even better beer.
Augustiner Biergarten © München Tourism
Beer garden and historical building at Schönbusch Park.
Augustiner Biergarten, oldest beer garden in Munich.
Munich: The city of beer gardens
Photos Courtesy German National Tourist Board or as noted
Beer gardens have a long history in Bavaria; in fact, Bavaria is home to the oldest beer garden in the world: Augustiner Biergarten. Augustiner dates to 1812; King Maximilian I is the man to thank for development of beer gardens: on January 4, 1812 he signed a decree allowing Munich brewers to sell their beer on the brewery grounds.
Traditional beer gardens often share the same characteristics — wooden benches with no back supports, and the surrounding area must have a lot of trees, usually chestnut. Many of today's beer gardens still have the same physical characteristics as the beer gardens more than 200 years ago.
Long ago, breweries had to dig underground cellars to store beer at a cold temperature in the summer months. As an extra precaution, workers lined the ground with gravel and planted large chestnut trees to help block out the sun. As part of King Maximilian's decree, brewing beer was banned in the summer due to potential fire hazards. Because of this, brewers wanted to preserve their beer as long as possible, which is where the idea for underground cellars originated.
Another beer garden tradition is that guests are allowed to bring their own food. A perfect beer garden picnic, or a "Brotzeit," usually includes obazda - a soft, Bavarian cheese spread; emmental cheese - a yellow, medium-hard cheese; radishes; and freshly-baked pretzels and butter, salt and pepper.
Tablecloths, wooden boards to eat on, a sharp knife, cutlery and napkins are also essential for a perfect picnic. However, if you aren't interested in bringing your own food, many beer gardens offer specialty dishes such as "Wurstsalat," a finely sliced sausage; "Leberkäse," Bavarian meatloaf, or "Steckerlfisch," barbecued whole fish.
Decorated beer steins.
Common beer garden drinks include: Radler - a mixture of beer and lemonade or lemon soda; Helles - a pale lager; Dunkles - a dark lager; Weissbier Hefeweizen - a wheat beer; Rus'n - a mixture of Weissbier and Sprite; and Neger - a mixture of Weissbier and Coke.
Non-alcoholic drinks include Spezi, a mixture of cola and orange soda, and
Apfelschorle, a mixture of apple juice and mineral water.
Once guests sit down, it is important to clink glasses and proclaim "cheers" as often as possible. This creates a sense of community and gives guests a chance to chat with their table neighbors. But remember: it's important to keep eye contact as you tap steins.
Beer Garden Hours
As soon as the sun comes up, beer gardens in Bavaria lay out their tables and benches and start serving beer and food. According to the official rules and regulations for beer gardens, "Daytime is the time from 7 a.m. - 11 p.m." All music must stop by 10 p.m. and food and drink sales must stop by 10:30 p.m.
Some beer gardens in Munich:
• Oldest - Augustiner Biergarten
• Family Friendly - Hofbräukeller
• Largest - Hirschgarten
• Highest - Olympia Alm
• Trendiest - Seehaus I'm Englishchen