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A typical beer garden in Munich
Beer garden (from the German "Biergarten") is an open-air area where beverages, (preferably beer), and prepared food are served. It is usually attached to a drinking establishment such as a public house or a German beer hall, which in places such as Munichmarker may serve large numbers of customers.


Beer gardens in Germany developed in Bavaria in the 19th century, during which dark lager beer was predominant. According to a decree by King Ludwig I, this had to be brewed during the cold months, since fermentation had to take place at temperatures between four and eight degrees Celsius. To provide this beer during the summer, large breweries dug beer cellars in the banks of the river Isarmarker, which allowed them to keep the beer cool. To further reduce the cellar temperature, they covered the banks in gravel and planted chestnut trees, the leaves of which provided shade in summer. An example of the cellar architecture can still be seen at Augustiner Bierkeller.
A beer garden at a festival
Soon after, the beer cellars were used not only to store but also to serve the beer. Simple tables and benches were set up among the trees, and soon the beer gardens were a popular venue for the citizens of Munich. This aggrieved the smaller breweries that remained in Munich. To prevent further loss of customers, they petitioned Ludwig I to forbid that the beer cellars surrounding Munich to serve food. Thus, the patrons were allowed to bring their own food.

This decree is no longer in force, and many beer gardens do serve food today. But according to the Bayerische Biergartenverordnung (Bavarian beer garden decree) beer gardens still have to allow their patrons to bring their own food.

The latter beer gardens are called traditional beer gardens. In summer, these can be a convenient way of eating out under chestnut trees in the shade, avoiding restaurants in the upscale city of Munich and Bavariamarker. They have become an important part of life for many citizens. The Biergärten in Bavaria usually serve common Bavarian cuisine as Radi (Radish), Brezen, and Obatzda. If one chooses to buy food on site, other classics are halbes Hendl (half a grilled chicken), Hax'n (knuckle of pork) and Steckerlfisch (grilled fish).

Beer gardens around the world

The term beer garden (Biergarten) has become a generic term for open-air areas where beer is served and many countries around the world have drinking establishments with an attached beer garden. This broader meaning is also true for Bavaria which has led to the specific attribution of a traditional beer garden. The characteristics of a traditional beer garden include trees (no sun umbrellas), wooden benches (no plastic garden chairs), gravel bed (no street pavement) and solid meals (no catering food).

The largest traditional beer garden in the world is the Hirschgarten (lit. deer garden) in Munich (8000 seats), still offering a small deer park.


In Austria, the beer garden is called Gastgarten (guest garden).They serve food such as "ein Paar Würstel" (a pair of the German Bratwurst) or "Schweinsbraten" (German pot roasted pork Schweinebraten). When ordering beer the choices are usually a "Pfiff " (0.2 liter), a "Seidel" (0.3 liter), a "Halbe" (1/2 liter), a "Mass" (1 liter) or a "Doppelliter" (2 liters). Some beer gardens also serve special five liter bottles, though they are rarely used.


Tradionally beer was brewed in winter and stored in cold cellars - this has led to the more common in-door beer restaurants called Bierkeller (beer cellar). Many beer cellars have similar offerings as common in a beer garden - one of the largest is the Hofbräukellermarker in Munich. While beer garden has mostly replaced the traditional name of beer cellar in Bavaria at the end of the 20th century it happens that most beer restaurants in Germany will continue to use the name beer cellar also for their attached summer outdoor areas - for the purpose of differentiation it is sometimes named Terasse (Terrace) of the beer cellar.


In Japan, outdoor beer gardens are enjoying increasing popularity, with many found on the roofs of department stores.

United States of America

In the United States one of the earliest, and most popular, beer gardens was Castle Gardenmarker at The Batterymarker on the southern tip of Manhattan Island in New York. It had previously been a fort, and subsequently became a theater, the first immigration station (predating Ellis Islandmarker), a very popular public aquarium, and finally a national monument.

Completed in 1919, the Beer Garden at Bohemian Hall is the oldest beer garden in New York City. Located on 24th Ave in Astoriamarker it, along with a bar and catering hall, is operated as part of the Bohemian Citizens' Benevolent Society. The Beer Garden at Bohemian Hall officially sits 800, though often entertains more during festivals and other events.

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