Beer Garden Tradition in Munich

Munich Beer Garden Map Click on the picture to enlarge

Beer gardens have a long tradition in Munich and they are more popular than ever. As soon as temperatures rise above "acceptable" levels in spring, the inhabitants from Munich (including us) flock to the beer gardens. We like going that much because:

  • the beer is good and almost every Bavarian likes beer
  • living in temperate climate we long for sun and sitting outside
  • there's always enough space, even though it's always crowded
  • big chestnut trees give shade
  • we can bring our own food

On one of those really hot summer days, a beer garden (German: Biergarten) is the only place to be, because the big chestnut trees spend enough shadow to feel fresh.

A typical beer garden in Munich - always crowded. In earlier times when electricity and fridges didn't exist, brewers still needed to keep their beer cool during summer. So what did they do? Inventive as people are, they dug stone cellars into the underground to store the beer barrels. On top of these cellars they planted chestnut trees, to give shadow and keep the place fresh and cool. This is one of the reasons, why you can see so many chestnut trees in Munich.

Off course, storing cool beer in these cellars during hot summer days and additionally having a big, shadowy garden, induced the brewers to sell their beer right on the spot, and the tradition of beer gardens was born. The success was so overwhelming, that restaurant owners started complaining to the King, fearing for their own business. Apparently King Ludwig was very fond of Bavarian beer and didn't want to destroy the newly found tradition of beer gardens; instead he finally prohibited them from selling food. So people wanting to eat something, had to bring their own food.

We are unpacking all the Bavarian dishes we brought for our beer garden visit. Even nowadays it's allowed to bring your own food. Have a look at Tobi and me unpacking typical Bavarian dishes like Brezn (pretzel), Obatzda (kind of cream cheese), Wurstsalat (sliced sausages with dressing) as well as plates and cutlery.

Just one more tip about bringing your own food: nowadays the restaurants usually sell food, and in general there are two sections: one with table cloths, which is served by waitresses and you have to buy their food, the other section, where you have to buy your drinks at the self-service counter and can bring your own food.

Beer usually comes in a Mass. This is an old German word for liter (2 pints). When you're not used to Bavarian beer, share a Mass with your better half (like we do on the photo) or opt for a light version, which is called Radler (Engl.: cyclist) and consists of half beer and half sprite. I personally like Radler much better, because it's sweeter.

Most locals though prefer beer and you'll see Bavarians drinking several Mass beer in one evening. Don't try to keep up with them! Their drinking habits are the result of many years of practice. In Bavaria beer is not really considered as alcohol, but more as basic nutrition and some persons even give it to their kids (not a Mass, off course, but some sips).

With more than 180 beer gardens in Munich, I'm sure you'll find one you like. Just keep in mind: Whenever you go to a beer garden without old chestnut trees, it's not an old and traditional one. Because of their popularity, almost any place that offers seating outside, nowadays calls itself Biergarten. But it's not the same!

By the way, if you like the map above, you can buy the poster at Pubstops. It makes a nice souvenir from you stay in Munich.

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