Cheers to tradition

Beer gardens in Nymphenburg and Munich

Beer gardens are icons of Munich much like the Frauenkirche (main cathedral in Munich) and Oktoberfest. Locals and visitors alike enjoy spending a few hours socialising in the beer gardens of the city. There are more than 1,000 to choose from, not including approx. 600 gardens of various restaurants.

Back then, their existence probably developed for practical reasons: beer was brewed between late September and late April, and then stored in the cool brewery cellar. Trees above the cellar provided additional cooling.

During the warm summer months, the creative beer brewers invited their guests to enjoy their craft precisely in these cool and shady spots — thus the beer garden was born.

The Hirschgarten in Nymphenburg - probably the largest beer garden in the world

Covering an area of approx. 40 hectares and providing 8,500 seats, the “Königlicher Hirschgarten” in Nymphenburg holds the unofficial record as the world’s largest beer garden. Whether or not this is really true, no one knows for certain. However, what is absolutely certain is that the Hirschgarten is one of the most beautiful beer gardens in all of Munich.

The Hirschgarten dates back to a pheasantry established in 1720. Approx. 50 years later, hops were planted there — a precursor to the beer garden established later.

The first inn, the Jägerhaus (hunting chalet), was opened in 1791. In 1780, nobleman (Prince elector) Karl Theodor ordered the development of a hunting ground in the area. This is how the fenced fallow deer enclosure came to be.

Today, the Hirschgarten, which is in close proximity to the Hotel Laimer Hof, is a popular destination for families. In addition to the large beer garden, it also offers numerous playgrounds, lawns, and a deer and sheep enclosure that covers 2-hectares.

Augustiner Keller Munich

The oldest beer garden in Munich seating 5,000 people is one of the best and well-known ones. It is a place to really relax under one of more than 100 chestnut trees. There is a cosy traditional atmosphere here all year with excellent cuisine. The historic building has a choice of restaurant and bar areas.

Naturally, the focus is on traditional Bavarian food, which is complemented by international specialities, including light meals and vegetarian options.

Our tip: the Starkbierfest (strong beer festival) in the cellar in March / April each year.

Chinesicher Turm in the English Garden

Seating 7,000, the beer garden at the 'Chinese Tower' is Munich's second largest beer garden after the Hirschgarten. Guests from all over the world congregate here to drink beer from the popular Münchner Hofbräu brewery. The Chinesicher Turm is also a popular meeting place for local Munich people wishing to enjoy summer evenings to the sound of a brass band. In beer garden tradition, it is also possible to bring and consume your own food of course.

Our tip: the Kocherlball is a traditional ball named after a custom whereby cooks, chambermaids and servants arranged to meet each other in summer every Sunday before work to dance. Once a year, thousands of women and men in traditional costume come to the Chinesicher Turm at dawn and, from 6.00am onwards, dance to the sound of traditional waltzes and other folk dances.

The rules in the beer garden

  • Typically, patrons of beer gardens sit on a beer bench: long, lacquered wooden benches (usually orange) with matching tables.
  • You are allowed to bring your own food into a beer garden – this is a special tradition of Munich’s beer gardens. However, all drinks, whether alcoholic or not, must be purchased from the host.
  • Lager (Helles) is sometimes served in pint-sized glasses (half litre) – but the traditional standard is the one-litre mug of beer – the measure of all things in a Munich beer garden.
  • If that is just too much beer for you, then you can opt for a “Radler” (a combination of beer and lemon soda).
  • Wheat beer (Weißbier) is served in a pint-sized glass (half litre) since, as opposed to draft beer, it is out of a bottle.