Germany celebrates this year the 200th anniversary of the beer garden. This Bavarian tradition dates back to 1812 when the Bavarian King Max gave the edict to allow beer brewers to sell retail quantities of their own beer in their own cellars from June to September.
Beer gardens are now an important part of the Germany experience that has now spread to all parts of Germany. “According to the latest Quality Monitor survey of the German tourism industry, 60 percent of international visitors come to Germany for the country’s unique flair and atmosphere, and 93 percent come for the traditional German food and drink,” notes Petra Hedorfer, CEO of the German National Tourist Board (GNTB).
The roots of the beer garden tradition are to be found in Munich and the surrounding region. Back as far as in the Middle Ages, the breweries were only allowed to brew in the winter months for fire safety reasons. In order to keep the beer in drinkable condition until the summer, it had to be stored in cellars. These cellars were covered with gravel and fast-growing chestnut trees in order to keep them cool.
When the 1812 decree was given, the gardens were created by the master brewers to sell beer and food, but much to the annoyance of the local innkeepers so anyone wishing to drink beer in the open air had to bring their own food with them – the beginnings of a tradition that is still alive today.
For an outing to the beer garden, a typical basket includes bread, cucumbers, radishes, homemade Obatzda cheese, grapes, ham and sausages although now the rules have changed and one can also buy delicious meals.
The breweries of Munich and Upper Bavaria are celebrating the anniversary of beer gardens with oompah music, traditional Bavarian dancing and a variety of events:
Jun – Oct: Beer and Oktoberfest Museum – Exhibition “200 Years of the Beer Barden”
Jul 21-Jul 22: Munich Beer Garden Weekend
Sep 22 – Oct 7: Munich’s Oktoberfest on the Theresienwiese
Source: German National Tourist Board – www.cometogermany.com
Information about beer gardens in and around Munich and the Alps can be found on www.bavarian-alps.travel