A plate of obazda on a big pretzel.

Beer garden guide

How-to beer garden

There is nowhere better to enjoy the sunshine than in a beer garden – provided that you are familiar with the local customs. Ten survival tips.

1. It is best not to order a “beer”

In Munich, we call it “Helles”. Bottom-fermented lager is particularly mild and sparkling. Most beer gardens stock beer from one of Munich’s six big breweries: Augustiner, Hofbräu, Hacker-Pschorr, Löwenbräu, Paulaner and Spaten.

 

2. Be careful when ordering “drinks for everyone”

In Munich beer gardens, the beer is traditionally served in a one-litre mug, or Maß (stein). Since one full stein alone weighs over two kilos, novices will hardly be able to carry more than three mugs. Hardly anyone could lift a round for a full beer garden table.

Video: simply beer garden

3. Bring your own food

In the 19th century, Munich brewers began serving beer directly at their breweries. In order to ensure that this did not give rise to rivalry with the innkeepers, King Maximilian I of Bavaria issued a decree in 1812 permitting the serving of drinks in beer gardens, but not the sale of food. Even today, anyone visiting a beer garden can bring their own food.

 

4. Move up and make space for strangers

“Gemütlichkeit”, or cosiness, is at least as much a part of Munich’s beer gardens as the beer itself – or, as it says in the Beer Gardens Ordinance: “Beer gardens fulfil important social and communicative functions”. Therefore, you should move up if there is room, introduce yourself using your first name, toast one another and feel at home.

5. The exceptions prove the rule

Some exceptions to the rule concerning sociability: you cannot simply take a seat at one of the many Stammtische (tables reserved for regulars); these seats are a hard-earned privilege. Only those who are expressly invited to do so may join a Stammtisch.

 

6. Please do not ask for a fish knife

The traditional Steckerlfisch (fish grilled on a stick) is eaten with the fingers or a small wooden skewer. Nobody needs cutlery to eat it – this is also the case with the Obatzden (Bavarian cheese spread), which can and should be eaten directly with the pretzel.

Rikshaw Stories: Flirting

7. It is impolite to drink alone

Only toasting your neighbour before your first mouthful? You might get away with doing that in Prussia, but not in convivial Bavaria. The rule of thumb is: we toast ten times per stein. After that, however, you can decide whether to put down your mug for a while or drink from it immediately.

 

8. Don’t drain your glass

The last mouthful in the glass is called the “Noagerl” in Bavarian – and as far as the Bavarians are concerned, the glass is just where it should stay. Those who drink it anyway are called “Noagerlzuzler” – and this doesn’t just sound like an insult; it is one!

9. Wash your stein

Admittedly, this really only applies to the Biergarten in the Hirschgarten, but it is also another wonderful Munich tradition: in order to save the staff some work, washbasins are provided for patrons to rinse out their glasses before getting a refill.

 

10. Respect closing time

No matter how mild and atmospheric the night may be, a bell sounds every night at 10:30 p.m. sharp, signalling closing time. When the lights go on and off again half an hour later at the very most, it really does mean that’s it for today. After all, it’s best to finish on a high note.

 

 

Text: Nansen & Piccard; Photos: Christian Kasper; Video: Redline Enterprises 
A plate of obazda on a big pretzel.

How-to beer garden

10 things you should bear in mind in Munich's beer gardens.

There is nowhere better to enjoy the sunshine than in a beer garden – provided that you are familiar with the local customs. Ten survival tips.

A man with curly hair and business jacket is sitting on a bench in a beer garden in Munich. On the table besides him is mug of beer and a pretzel.

Beautiful beer gardens in and around Munich

While in other cities people sit at pavement cafes, when the sun comes out in Munich you'll find the locals in a beer garden enjoying a Mass of beer and a bite to eat. We know the best places to go.

While in other cities people sit at pavement cafes, when the sun comes out in Munich you'll find the locals in a beer garden enjoying a Mass of beer and a bite to eat. We know the best places to go.

A sign on top of a maypole in Munich that has the word beer garden on it.

Ja, Servus mitanand!

In the summer, everyone in Munich can agree on an evening in the beer garden. A typology of the typical beer gardeners.

In the summer, everyone in Munich can agree on an evening in the beer garden. From typical Bavarians to busy after-workers: some characters you will find again and again. A typology.

People in a beer garden at the Viktualienmarkt in Munich.

Munich's most central beer garden

Longterm residents of Munich and visitors from far and wide all meet up in the beer garden at Viktualienmarkt.

Workers on their lunch break, people meeting for after-work drinks, longterm residents of Munich and visitors from far and wide all meet up in the beer garden at Viktualienmarkt.

A lot of persons are sitting on benches in a beer garten in Munich at a lake and are talking to each other. In the foreground is a green leaf.

Take a break at the lake

Enjoy dining in restaurants? Or maybe you prefer a beer garden? You can enjoy both at Seehaus in the Englischer Garten. 

Enjoy dining in restaurants? Or maybe you prefer a beer garden? You can enjoy both at Seehaus in the Englischer Garten - including a romantic spot on the water.

The beer garden Augustiner Keller with many visitors.

Tapped from wooden barrels

Augustiner-Keller is one of the true grandfathers of Munich’s beer garden scene. It lies hidden among some 100 chestnut trees, not far from the city’s main train station.

Augustiner-Keller is one of the true grandfathers of Munich’s beer garden scene. It lies hidden among some 100 chestnut trees, not far from the city’s main train station.

Two beer steins on a table in a beergarden in Munich at sunset.

Hofbräukeller

Located on the banks of the Isar river, Hofbräukeller is an institution in the Haidhausen district. Its history goes hand-in-hand with Munich’s beer-brewing tradition. 

Located on the banks of the Isar river, Hofbräukeller is an institution in the Haidhausen district. Its history goes hand-in-hand with Munich’s beer-brewing tradition. 

Chinese Tower in the Englischer Garten in Munich in autumn.

In the shade of the pagoda

The beer garden in the middle of the Englischer Garten is a popular spot for Munich's residents.

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Beer garden in the background of the Hirschgartens.

Munich's biggest beer garden

Hirschgarten is a large park in the west of Munich. The 40-hectare park is also home to the city’s largest beer garden.

Hirschgarten is a large park in the west of Munich. The 40-hectare park is also home to the city’s largest beer garden.

Tower and entrance of the Löwenbräukeller restaurant in Munich

A historic beer hall

Munich’s tavern culture has been thriving at Löwenbräukeller on Stiglmaierplatz square for over 130 years.

Munich’s tavern culture has been thriving at Löwenbräukeller on Stiglmaierplatz square for over 130 years.

Facade of the Hofbräuhaus in Munich.

The original comes from Munich

“In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus – oans, zwoa, g’suffa…” That is the opening line of the 1935 song that made the Hofbräuhaus am Platzl famous all over the world.

“In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus – oans, zwoa, g’suffa…” That is the opening line of the 1935 song that made the Hofbräuhaus am Platzl famous all over the world.

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