There is nothing better than drinking a big beer in one of Germany's beautiful beer gardens; sitting at long wooden tables shaded by century-old chestnut trees, and enjoying a beer fresh from the brewery with your plate of hearty food.
Tradition and History
Beer Gardens date back to the early 19th century. They came to be in Bavaria as a practical extension of German breweries.
Back then, brewers stored their beer barrels in cellars, where it slowly fermented.
To keep the cellars cool and shady during the summer, brewers covered the ground with loose gravel and planted chestnut trees. When the Bavarian King Ludwig granted brewers the right to sell their beer on the spot, the beer garden, as we know and love it, was born.
Food and Drink
In the beginning of beer gardens, there was plenty to drink but nothing to eat. Because brewers were not allowed to sell food, many Germans brought their own pretzel and wurst to the beer garden.
This B-Y-O food custom is still reflected in many traditional beer gardens in Bavaria today; although all of them serve up Bavarian specialties, many still have a self-service area where you are allowed to bring your own picnic.
Although many German beer gardens are big enough to seat thousands of people, empty tables are often hard to find. It is common to share your table with people you don't know, so look out for free seats and make some new friends.
Along with local beer, served in 1-liter steins, German beer garden specialties include:
Brotzeit - a platter with cold cuts, artisan cheese, sausages, pretzel, horseradish, and cucumbers
Obatzter - a soft, white cheese, mixed with onions and chives
Weisswurst – white sausage, complimented by sweet mustard and a pretzel
Kartoffelsalat - potatoes salad
Hendl - half a chicken
Munich's Best Beer Gardens
You can find beer gardens all over Germany, but the most traditional and charming ones are still in Bavaria. Munich is home to almost 200 beer gardens; check out the best Munich beer gardens.
Beer aficionados, don't miss our complete beer lover's guide to Germany.