200 Years Beer Garden Anniversary

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On the 4th of January 2012, the tradition of the Bavarian beer garden celebrated its 200th birthday. 200 years earlier, on the 4th of January 1812, an edict issued by King of Bavaria Max I. allowed all breweries to sell beer straight out of their storage cellars.

Augustiner-Keller beer garden in former times

This edict was the reaction on a long quarrel between the breweries and restaurant owners. Already on the 13th of May 1791, some Munich innkeepers from the Au complained to the Elector Karl-Theodor about the beer cellars, which were located near the Isar. The innkeepers said, that the beer cellars ruin their business. The innkeepers were not wrong, given the fact that breweries were not allowed by law to sell beer for immediate consumption at the beer cellars. Yet it was widely practiced at the time.

The original 1812 Royal edict

In those days the beer was stored between huge ice blocks in underground cellars. The ice was necessary to cool the beer throughout the summer months, as brewing was only allowed between end of September and middle of April. To improve the cooling, breweries planted chestnut trees on top of the cellars. People collecting beer straight from the breweries usually drank their first stein on location before going back home. To provide more comfort, the breweries placed tables and benches under the chestnut trees with the result, that more and more people came to the beer cellars and the restaurants lost their guests.

The royal edict in 1812 brought an end to the argument between the breweries and innkeepers. The edict stated, that the breweries are allowed to sell their Märzenbier from June to September for straight consumption on location. To bring some guests back to the restaurants, the breweries were only allowed to sell beer and bread, but nothing else. Nevertheless, the beer garden guests started to bring their own food from home and over time this custom turned into tradition.

Throughout the 2012 beer garden season, many Munich beer gardens will celebrate this tradition together with their guests in combination with special events, such as for instance on the 22nd July in the Königliche Hirschgarten with a parade, music, dance, Schuhplattler dance and female whip crackers.

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