As soon as the sun starts being a little stronger in the spring, most Biergartens in Munich open the season.
Biergarten – literally translated as beer garden – is a place, where old and young, wealthy and poor, locals and tourists meet and enjoy a glass or two of Munich beer under chestnut trees. Together, this all creates an atmosphere of “Gemütlichkeit” – a Bavarian way to “meditate”, if you want a rough translation. Here are 10 tips on how to get the most out of your Biergarten-time.
1. Bring your own Biergarten food
Before going to a Biergarten, pass by vendors on Viktualienmarkt and get some typical Biergarten-snacks. This includes some radish, daikon, Obatzda (a traditional cheese dip), sausages (liver sausage, blood sausage, Pfefferbeißer), some pretzels, horseradish dip and basically everything you like combining with beer.
2. Look for tables without any covers
When a Biergarten is attached to a restaurant or guesthouse, it is common, that you’ll find clothed and bare tables. If you bring your own food and want to get drinks yourself, sit at uncovered tables.
3. Make your drink choice before lining up
Traditionally, you’ll find “Helles” (Bavarian pale lager), “Weißbier” (wheat beer), “Dunkles” (dark lager) and some seasonal specialities like “Sommerbier” (summer beer). Also, you can get “Radler” (shandy), which is Helles mixed with lemonade or “Russ’n” (Weißbier with lemonade). If alcohol is not an option for you, there is a variety of “Schorlen” (juice spritzers) to choose from. Usually, there are different lines for Helles, Weißbier, and non-alcoholic drinks.
4. Be careful about your drink size
There is “Maß,” which is 1l and “Halbe” which is 0,5 l. You don’t get smaller drinks in a Biergarten. Some Biergartens don’t even pour Halbe in the afternoon, so you only can get a Maß.
5. Be quick at the tap
During the busy season, the staff pours one drink after the other. There are arrows above the tap indicating which drink is which. So, if you see full glasses of Helles or Radler, just take it.
6. Look for the shortest line at the cash register
You don’t pay directly at the beer tap. There are several cashiers in the service area. Often, the guests only see one after getting the beer, so the lines are long. Go around the corner to check if there are fewer people on another cash register.
7. Don’t be surprised by “Pfand” when paying
In many Biergartens, there is a deposit or “Pfand” (usually 2 euros) for beer mugs. You’ll get a small coin chip at the cash register, that you’ll need to get your money back. There is a strict no-chip-no-money policy, so don’t lose it. Look for the sign “Pfandrückgabe” when you want to return your mug(s).
8. Bring cash
Although there are some Biergartens, where you can pay by card, it’s rather rare. If they accept cards, there usually is a spending limit on the payment. The best way to avoid awkward moments at the cash register is to have enough cash on you.
9. Don’t be shy
If Biergarten is full and you see some free sitting spots by the table, that is already taken, just ask, if you can join in. Some fellow Biergarteners are chatty and will start a small talk so you can ask them to give you some tips on what to see and do in the city.
10. Have fun and enjoy the Gemütlichkeit
These tips are just small suggestions from Biergarten regulars. The most important thing is that you have a good time. Say “Prost” (cheers) to your beer bench neighbours, relax and enjoy your drink!