Der Biergarten – A Garden Full of Beer?

Der Biergarten – A Garden Full of Beer?

Biergarten Eden: the days are getting longer, the temperature is rising and suddenly it is summer. One of the best things you can do in Germany during the warm season is to visit a beer garden. Especially in Bavaria, you can not only see clichés become real, but also have some refreshing beverages and a traditional, yet timeless experience of “Gemütlichkeit”.

The History of Beer Gardens in Germany

You can find Biergärten all over the country, but the real ones are more to be found in the southern Bundesländer of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, just like their origin. The history of those beer gardens is tightly bound to the history of brewing.

In the 19th century, there was not such an extensive beer selection as you can find today in Germany, mostly because of the lack of cooling techniques. The most common beer in Munich, the capital of the Kingdom of Bavaria, was thus the Märzen (from März = March).

It is a bottom-fermenting beer (untergärig, the opposite of obergärig), one of the two basic kinds of brewing according to the Bavarian purity law. In this sort of beer, the brewers use a particular kind of yeast – a yeast that only ferments at temperatures between four and eight degrees Celsius for brewing.

Therefore, the beer could not only just be brewed in the winter months (until the end of March), it was also hard to store it during summer. It had to be stored cool to stay fresh. To do so, the brewers used deep cellars.

From Beer Cellars to Gardens

Brewers sought to further lower cellar temperatures during warmer seasons by placing gravel on the cellars and planting horse-chestnut trees with dense canopies and shallow roots along the bluffs. This not only helped in temperature control but also paved the way for the creation of shaded beer-serving spaces. The result was the emergence of the modern “beer garden,” characterized by simple tables and benches nestled among the trees, offering a cool and enjoyable environment for beer enthusiasts.

Soon, some of the brewers got an idea: They sold their beer just out of the cellar and also placed some simple chairs and tables just under the shady trees on top of them where the thirsty customers could sit and enjoy their beverage.

Because the other pub-owners protested, King of Bavaria Maximilian I. proclaimed in 1812 that the master brewers could sell their beer and also some bread, but no other meals. So, people were allowed to bring their own “Brotzeit” (a traditional snack) to enjoy with their alcoholic drink.

That’s why even today it is a maintained tradition that it’s allowed to bring your meal to the Biergarten (but of course not your drinks).  Outside of Bavaria, this tradition is uncommon at some places, especially if beer gardens are part of a restaurant or a pub, so better ask or just observe other visitors before unpacking your sandwich.

Der Biergarten - A Garden full of Beer

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What to Expect at a Traditional German Beer Garden

In virtually every German village (dorf) and city (stadt), you can find a Biergarten near the city’s main square or the nearest brewery. Upon discovering a cluster of traditional Biergarten tables, your next task is to secure a seat. Unlike conventional settings with waiters guiding you to a private table, Biergartens embrace communal seating.

While some Biergartens have staff to take orders, more often than not, there’s a central beer pouring station where you place and pay for your order, along with an area for ordering food. The responsibility then falls on you to transport substantial amounts of food and beer to your table.

Enjoy German Beers and a Light German Food Menu

Beer & Food | Discover London's Most Exquisite German Cuisine

Many beer gardens now offer a selection of light German fare alongside alcoholic beverages, as well as some hearty traditional dishes, such as bratwurst, rotisserie chicken, pork schnitzel and salads.

Here are a few examples of German fare to enjoy if you are hungry:

  1. Brezeln (Soft Pretzel): A quintessential German snack, finding its place on nearly every menu (Speisekarte).
  2. Wurst (Sausage): A classic favorite among beer enthusiasts
  3. Spätzle: An excellent vegetarian alternative, this egg noodle dish, best enjoyed with fried onions and ample cheese, provides a satisfying option.
  4. Hendl: A substantial meal comprising half a chicken seasoned with a savory rub and garlic sauce, perfect for those seeking a hearty biergarten feast.
  5. Schweinshaxe: Catering to serious appetites, this substantial pork knuckle is a standout choice, allowing diners to impress friends as they tackle this mountain of pork in the biergarten setting.

Of course, when it comes to beer, you can order anything from half to full liter steins.

Measuring Styles of German Steins (liters to ounces conversion)

Beer Garden Culture Today

Today, there are numerous beer gardens, also outside of Bavaria, thus you will find the real traditional ones mostly in this Bundesland. Especially in Munich, there are several well-known Biergärten, for example at the Hirschgarten-Park where you can experience the right kind of Bavarian Gemütlichkeit. They are still very common places to be in summer and also to meet new friends because of their long tables where it’s not unusual to join other guests at theirs and enjoy a Maß or a Weißbier, as well as live entertainment, music and trivia night on a Sunday.

Most of them are also offering traditional dishes in self-service if you have forgotten to bring your own. Of course, you can also get non-alcoholic drinks there. So don’t miss out on having an authentic time beneath one of the chestnut trees.


Here are also some of the questions people ask about beer gardens in Germany

Why is it called a Biergarten?

The term “Biergarten” translates to “beer garden” in German. It is named so because these outdoor establishments offer a unique setting where people can enjoy tap beer in an open-air environment, often surrounded by nature and a communal atmosphere.

What is German for “beer garden”?

The German term for “beer garden” is “Biergarten.”

Do they have beer gardens in Sacramento?

Yes, Sacramento does have beer gardens. These outdoor establishments provide a perfect setting for patrons to enjoy a refreshing drink and soak up the great Sacramento weather and communal atmosphere.

Summing Up: Der Biergarten – A Garden Full of Beer?

Embrace the quintessence of an authentic traditional German beer garden where you can savor the great taste of great German beer and the flavor of some light German fare it is served with.

Socialize and enjoy the communal atmosphere and sharing good food and drinks beneath the chestnut trees. It’s an opportunity to experience the true essence of Gemütlichkeit that is authentically German. Prost to the traditional German beer garden culture!