The fact that lots of people sit under the shade of trees to enjoy a beer in the summer in Bavaria is owed to a problem faced by the beer brewers many years ago:
In the 16th century, the brewers of Munich in particular were faced with the question of how best to cool their kegs in the summer. They couldn’t bury them deep underground: the water level in the city was too high for that. Instead, they stored the kegs in cellars, directly below the soil. They then planted shade-giving chestnut trees, so that the beer would remain sufficiently cold, even on warm summer days.
Soon, daytrippers began to notice these lovely, secluded areas. The brewers began to sell their beer to them. In 1812, King Max I. Joseph set out the legal framework for selling beer from a bar. Food was not included in this law, however; so guests were allowed to bring their own snacks with them.
The Bavarians’ second living room
As soon as it is warm enough, beer gardens become a second living room for city dwellers especially. No warm evening or weekend will pass without a visit to a beer garden. They are sociable places: People squish up together on the benches; say “cheers” to each other; and are soon addressing each other informally.
Time out, the Bavarian way
There is no question that beer gardens are places where life slows down. They can be found throughout Bavaria. On the banks of a lake and at the top of a mountain; in the Bavarian Forest and in the Allgäu. Franconia has a real speciality:
The region in the north of Bavaria has an extraordinarily high density of breweries; especially Upper Franconia with its 160 brewers. Few other regions can boast such a pronounced and diverse beer culture.
In Upper Franconia, the beer garden is often a beer cellar. The brewers used to make use of the natural conditions. They often built their beer storage on the edge of towns; in the sandstone slopes of the hills and mountains. The advantage of the cellar: The temperatures remain constant at eight degrees without the need for any additional cooling. And this is the perfect temperature for beer.
Beer cellars have a similar tradition to beer gardens: people have always been allowed to bring a snack with them. Or you can buy a traditional, regional Brotzeit snack like Obazda and Bavarian Leberkäse when you are there.
Information about regional beer in Bavaria: