Beergardens have been an inherent part of Bavarian tradition, embodying “Gemütlichkeit“ (hospitality) for over 200 years.
The origin of the beergarden dates back to the 16th century in Munich. We owe this heavenly place on earth to the brewing methods of the time and to the Bavarian brewing regulations of 1539 – although both of these almost caused an entire summer without beer in Bavaria. Because at this time beer was brewed using bottom fermentation, which takes place at temperatures between 4° and 8° Celsius, successful fermentation could only occur during the cold months. Furthermore, because the hot brewing kettles had been causing terrible fires in the summer heat, brewing was only permitted between September 29th and April 23rd, as per the historical and traditional brewing regulations at the time. In order to be able to provide beer during Munich’s summer months, beer had to be brewed in the winter, followed by several months of chilled lagering: a true challenge.
Bavarian inventiveness led to the idea of storing beer in deep cellars to keep it cool. These cellars where naturally chilled by gravel spread above ground and shade from chestnut trees planted on top of the cellars. Thanks to their shallow roots, the chestnut trees caused no damage to the cellar vaults and are still a typical feature of beergardens today. Back then, the brewery sites were located outside the city and quickly became popular destinations for Munich’s citizens. At first, people just picked up the cool, fresh beer to take back home with them, but soon Bavarian hospitality prevailed and the beer began to be enjoyed directly underneath the large treetops of the chestnut trees. The brewers set up simple tables and benches to accommodate the people – the beergarden was born.
As a result, small breweries and inns began to feel robbed of their customers. So they approached King Maximilian, the first King of Bavaria, with their concerns. In 1812, this Wittelsbach King finally declared a compromise – thank goodness – to keep the extremely popular beergardens in business. But in order to protect the businesses of Munich’s restaurateurs, no food items, with the exception of bread, could be sold. Without further ado, the people brought their own homemade dishes, thus beginning this wonderful custom, which - to this day - is still a tradition in many beergardens.