Celebrate the 200th anniversary of the beer garden by visiting one of Munich’s best-loved institutions.

Two centuries ago, the first German beer gardens were the result of a decree by King Maximilian I Joseph in 1812 that granted brewers of Munich the right to sell beer for immediate, on-site consumption. In the days preceding refrigeration, breweries struggled to keep their beers cool during hot summer months. Shady chestnut trees shielded their premises from the sun and came to do double duty: provide shade to beer gardens’ thirsty visitors. Since the decree didn’t let breweries serve food, patrons brought their own, a custom that survives to date.

Nowadays, beer gardens offer various levels of service. Tablecloths generally mean restaurantlike attention, with food brought by servers. At long, bare wooden tables, guests are free to consume nibbles, such as pretzels or sausages bought at small stands on the premises. True beer garden pros come with a basket stuffed with picnic fare, such as cheese, grapes or ham, along with plates and cutlery.

Munich boasts about 180 beer gardens. However, visitors be warned: While many restaurants put up Biergarten signs, bringing your own food to one of them would be met with disdain by the staff.

Find more information and addresses of some of the city’s best beer gardens at (in English).

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