With this guide, you will learn anything and everything you’ve always wanted to know about this beloved Bavarian tradition.
Comfort is key, so you can wear anything you’d like to the beergarden. Of course, true Bavarians often don their Lederhosen - the traditional Bavarian leather pants, and women wear Dirndls, the traditional Bavarian dress.
The beergarden is all about togetherness, so there are no tables for two, expect to share a table and toast your new friends with a Mass (1 liter mug) of beer.
In the 14th century the Paulaner monks were brewing true to the motto: “Liquida non frangunt ienum” (“Liquid does not break the fast”). Due to hard work and sparse food, especially at times of fasting, beer was considered liquid food, allowing the monks 5 liters per day!
Don’t worry, it’s not all liquid food. Expect to find all kinds of traditional German delicacies at a beergarden. A common dish is Steckerlfisch, almost an entire mackerel fish skewered on a wooden stick and grilled over charcoal. You will also find Obatzda (a Bavarian cheese), radishes and Wurstsalat (marinated sausage salad). In a true Bavarian beergarden, guests are invited to bring their own food – but not beverages! This has been a tradition since the 19th century in Munich when King Maximilian settled a dispute between Munich tavern owners and the first beergardens by allowing the sale of beer inside and in front of the beer cellars, but not the sale of food.
According to legend, the toasting of beer mugs became a custom at the table as a sign of trust. During the Middle Ages it was common to poison your enemy. For this reason, they hit the others’ mugs with such force that the beer spilled over into surrounding mugs. The others quickly became suspicious of any companions afraid of beer overflowing into his own glass.
There is a common saying - “Weisswurst, (white sausage) should not hear the church bells’ chime at noon”. This means that Weisswurst should be eaten before 12 pm. This dates back to the days before refrigeration, when Weisswurst, which is very perishable, was liable to spoil in warm temperatures. Today you can enjoy a Weisswurst anytime of day, preferably with a weissbeer.
The beergarden is a place without rank or titles – it has always been a place where all social classes, rich and poor, celebrate together. Reserving seats or not allowing others to join your table is considered sacrilege and might be penalized with disapproving looks.
If you expect a waitress to come and take your order, you’ll be waiting for a long time. Beergardens are self-serve – with the exception of some preset tables. Beverages are most commonly available in 1 liter sizes.
Visiting a beergarden is a unique experience, so the locals have a slight advantage regarding the local customs and traditions. But here are a few tips and phrases that can add to your enjoyment.
Beergarden plans are often relaxed. It’s best to keep your appointment times vague. The best time to get there is when you get there.
Under the shade of the chestnut trees, strangers quickly become friends. So please sit down at any table without hesitation. Every new face adds to the experience.
The beergarden is a place for everyone. The young and the old, the tram conductor chats with the tourists, and the bricklayer enjoys his snack with the college professor. This is the way of the beergarden.
In a beergarden, sometimes dialects, language, attitude and even competing football fans bump into each other, but fortunately everybody is allowed to say what they think. Only one thing is not allowed: formal introductions in German. In a beergarden everyone is on a first name basis.
Don’t forget to toast your neighbors when enjoying your own fresh Paulaner Weisbier - ideally many times. An easy rule of thumb: ten toasts should be okay for each 1 liter Mass. (And, by the way, it’s best to toast with the bottom of the Weissbier glass.)
A Bavarian Brotzeit (light meal or hearty snack) is very traditional at a beergarden. True beergarden professionals, pack a picnic basket with a quaint tablecloth, wood cutting board and a sharp knife.
Nothing goes better with a hearty Brotzeit than a fresh Weissbier. Now it’s time to take all the little delicacies we love so much to the beergarden: namely pretzels, Radi (radish) and our beloved Obatzda.
In Bavaria we use the term, “Fesches Dirndl” to describe a pretty girl, as well as the traditional dress. There is a little secret hiding behind the apron’s tied bow: if the bow is tied to the left it means she is available, but if the bow is tied to the right, she is already spoken for.
Beergarden season is year round. Whether it’s summer or the winter, if it’s a nice day we’ll bring out the tables and chairs so you can enjoy a fresh Weissbier and a homemade picnic lunch.
The beergarden isn’t entirely without limits – at 10:30 p.m. you’ll hear the bell for last call – which means according to beergarden regulations it’s time to order your last round.