The beer garden belongs to Bavaria just as much as the mountains and churches’ bulbous spires. Every small or larger town, and even villages, have at least one of these cozy open air meeting spots. In Munich alone, you can find 110 “official” beer gardens. In 2012, the Bavarians celebrated the bicentennial of the Brotzeitrecht, the “right to snack”, which paved the way to this very typical tradition: this law allows you to bring your own food (Brotzeit) to the beer garden if you are buying your drinks there.
In 1812, Bavarian king Max I Joseph allowed the brewers from Munich to sell their beer directly at the point of origin or storage location. But at the same time, he forbad them to sell food. This law was supposed to settle the long-lasting quarrel between breweries who sold their beer directly from the summer storages and the neighbouring hostelries that suffered from a loss of clientele due to the breweries’ business.
The beautifully planted gardens of shade-providing trees emerged out of the necessity to store the beer, which was being brewed between September and April (brewing out of that period was forbidden due to fire prevention reasons). Cellar vaults had been digged, especially in the hills around Munich to cool the beer. But this stony protection was still too weak to keep the beer from the summer heat. Tall chestnut trees were therefore planted above the storage rooms – that gives us these lush gardens today.
Although the “Brotzeitrecht” is a regulation from Munich, you can find it in many beer gardens all over Bavaria. A typical Brotzeit consists of pretzels, radish, and a special spread made of cheese, the so–called “Obatzda”. All this will be eaten from a wooden plate, the “Brotzeitbrettl”.