A beer garden is far more than an outdoor bar or watering hole. On balmy, summer days, beer gardens become outdoor living rooms for Munich's residents. When it's warm, you'll find hundreds of Germans crowded into the gardens, some sipping beer, others merely soaking up the rays.
Entire families crowd around the common green metal tables, with adults sipping beer and kids downing "Spezi," Germany's characteristic mix of orange soda and cola. Often, the family dogs will be lounging underneath the table. Look around, and you'll see a medley of folks, some decked out in their finest garb, while others kick back in casual clothes.
Don't expect luxury from a beer garden. The beer is rich, the food filling, and the service often nonexistent.
At most of the traditional beer gardens, patrons can bring their own food. If you choose, you can sample the beer garden's traditional, hearty Bavarian dishes. Standard food choices include fresh pretzels, a variety of cheeses, Bavarian sausages and sauerkraut, fresh radishes, roast chicken, roasted pig shank and grilled smoked mackerel.
Don't expect luxury from a beer garden. The beer is rich, the food filling, and the service often nonexistent. If the table does not have a tablecloth,
you are expected to go to the bar and buffet to get your refreshments and snacks. If there is a tablecloth, you will be served by a waiter. Generally, you only need to leave a small tip, if you choose, because a service charge is added to the bill.
|Some standard types
of German beer
HELLES: the standard German light (in color, not calories) beer served in a one-liter Maß
PILSENER: a more bitter and less malty beer with a strong hops flavor
DUNKELWEIZEN: dark beer
WEISSBIER: a lighter-tasting wheat beer
One cardinal rule governs every beer garden -- you must buy your beer there. Each beer garden serves a distinct beer provided by the host brewery. For example, the Aumeister beer garden serves several varieties of Hofbräuhaus beer, while the Augustiner Keller naturally serves the Augustiner brew.
Beer is served by the "Maß" (pronounced "mahss") -- one liter in a heavy glass mug. Level markers on the glass allow the consumer to verify that the glass is filled to the level required by German law. If it seems that your beer does not quite meet that level after the foam settles, ask for a refill.
On average, a liter costs about 9 DM ($5.50 U.S.). There are no cover charges to get into Munich's beer gardens.