Bavarian Beer Gardens Celebrate 200 years


Why Munich's beer gardens rule, 200 years on June 12, 2012
The birth of the beer garden came about in the early 19th century Bavaria, by royal decree.

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the law that brought into existence one of Germany's greatest institutions, the beer garden.

When it comes to beer-drinking, Bavarians do not do things by halves: there are more than 180 beer gardens of varying sizes in and around Munich, with seating space for 180,000 imbibers.

The birth of the beer garden came about in the early 19th century. Bavarians were allowed to brew beer in winter only, and to keep it cool for sale in the summer it was stored in cellars along the River Isar, commonly in the shade of chestnut and linden trees. These shaded areas soon became popular spots for those wanting to sample the goods before taking them home.

..On January 4, 1812, King Max Joseph I stated in the "Bayerische Biergartenverordnung" (Bavarian beer garden decree) that these gardens could be places where both beer and food could be served - and the beer garden was born.

Crucially, in addition to being served food, people were allowed to bring their own, a tradition that has been maintained into the 21st century.

While most beer gardens serve a range of delicious dishes - Steckerlfisch (usually grilled mackerel on a stick), racks of ribs, spit-roasted half-chickens, pretzels - they continue to be places where people bring their own picnic spreads of breads, cold meats, cheeses, salads and radishes.

As for the beer, most of the gardens serve it by the litre (a "Mass"); it is only "Weissbier" (wheat beer) that is typically bought in half-litre glasses.