Bavarian Beer Garden
Ask anyone in the world to close their eyes and summon an image of Germany and German culture, and many would immediately visualize a beer garden. Germany is the home of the beer garden, beer hall, beer keller, beer everything. But what many people think of as being quintessentially German is actually Bavarian.
Munich is the home of the beer garden. What is now one of the great symbols of Bavarian “Gemütlichkeit” (a cosy and easy living atmosphere) began a few centuries ago as a practical solution to a practical problem. Beer had to be cold-stored to keep it fresh. This was a problem in pre-refrigeration days.
The larger breweries hit upon the idea of digging out cellars along the banks of the Isar. That was the first stage in the evolving culture. It was further realized that planting chestnut trees in the ground above the cellars increased the efficacy of this even further. Chestnut trees have two characteristics which makes them ideally suited for the task at hand: broad leaves and shallow roots. The broad leaves keep the sun at bay, and the shallow roots don’t interfere with the cellars below the trees. Stage two.
And from there it was only one more step to realizing that the little knots of chestnut trees growing above the cellars provided a pleasant and sylvan environment to enjoy the beer stored below. Bung in a few wooden benches and you’ve got yourself a great excuse for a beer. What began as a matter of practical necessity evolved into a commercial opportunity. King Ludwig I granted breweries the right to sell their product in the chestnut groves above the cellars in which it was stored and thus began the great Munich institution of the beer garden.
A typical German beer garden is like an open air restaurant or picnic area. You are only obliged to purchase a drink. Any drink – it does not have to be a beer (but the beer is very, very good!). You can bring your own food. Local people will typically prepare their own picnic lunch, find a table in the open or beneath one of the ever present shady chestnut trees, and grab a frothy German Bier. Bavarians know how to enjoy life, and on a sunny day, a Bavarian Biergarten is the place to do it.
Typical beer garden food to enjoy with your Bier includes the much loved Obatzda cream cheese and paprika dish. A salty “Brezel” (pretzel) is also a food staple.
If you want to have a classic Bavarian beer garden experience in Munich, try the Hofbräuhaus beer garden, or the famous Augustinerkeller. The largest Biergarten in the city is the Hirschgarten. The Great Paulaner Biergarten, Nockherberg, is a Bavarian classic. If you want to enjoy a great German beer in a beautiful outdoor setting, all of Munich is open to you!