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Munich's Beer Gardens
With a bit of sunshine, a handful of picnic tables, and a few of the finest beers around, you have yourself a Biergarten (beer garden). There are beer gardens throughout Germany, and many imitations across the world but the most traditional, and the best, are still found in and around Munich. The elixir that transforms the traditional Munich beer garden into something special is the unbeatable atmosphere.
Beer gardens formed out of necessity. Brewers in the 18th and 19th centuries struggled to keep beer cool to prevent it from spoiling in warm weather. As early as 1724, Munich brewers dug cellars and began to store beer next to the shady shores of the river Isar. Local residents promptly took along their beer glasses for a cool drink and before long the odd table and bench appeared, and the beer garden tradition was born.
Often, a beer garden is separated between where guests can bring food and where they must buy it. Simply ask to avoid confusion or look for tablecloths—generally these are table-service only. The basis of a beer garden Brotzeit (snack) is delicious black bread, Obatzter, sausage, gherkin, and radish. As tradition dictates, remember to also order Ein Mass Bier bitte! (A liter of beer please!)
Munich's Best Beer Gardens
Augustiner Keller Biergarten
This is perhaps the most popular beer garden in Munich and certainly one of the largest. It is part of the Augustiner Keller restaurant, a few hundred meters from Hackerbrücke S-bahn station, or 5–6 minutes from the Hauptbahnhof. The main garden is separated half between where you can bring your own food and half where you buy food from the beer garden. The leaves from countless horse chestnut trees provide a canopy covering, which adds to the dreamy atmosphere.
Hofbräukeller am Wiener Platz
Some of the best beer gardens are found away from the City Center. This one is a 15-minute walk (or take Tram 18 or 19 from the Hauptbahnhof) over the Isar River, past the Maximilianeum, to Wiener Platz, a delightful square well worth visiting. The beer garden attracts Münchners, as well as groups of British, Australian, and American expats. The staple beer garden chicken, fries, roast pork, and spare ribs are better here than most.
With seating for 8,000, this is the biggest and most family-friendly beer garden in Munich. In a former royal hunting area outside the City Center, it takes a little time and effort to reach. Your best bet is to rent a bike and cycle there. The rewards are clear: surrounded by trees and green parkland, the tables and benches seem to go on forever. The food and beer is good and there is even a small deer sanctuary, lending the "Deer Park" its name.
This is where trendsetters head for a more modern and sunny—there isn't much shade here—take on the traditional beer garden. Set in Munich's old botanical garden, five minutes from the Hauptbanhof, this medium-size beer garden regularly has DJs and other musical events in the evenings. It also has a good selection of cakes and a hip indoor bar.
Seehaus im Englischen Garten
Within Munich's very own oasis, the Englisher Garten, it was an inspired decision to build this beer garden next to a boating lake. A leisurely stroll through the garden to the Seehaus takes about an hour, but go early because it's popular after 11:30. Lots of people visit the Englischer Garten to play soccer and other sports, and if you want to join in you might want to pass on the roast dinner and instead snack on a Brezn (pretzels), Obatzter, and salad.
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