Beer gardens in Germany developed in the kingdom of Bavaria in the 19th century, during which dark lager beer was predominant. Already in the Bavarian brewing regulations of 1539 and, subsequently in 1553, it was decreed by Albert V that only in the period from 29 September, the feast of St. Michael, to 23 April, the feast of Saint George, beer could be brewed. This occurred along with the required low temperatures for the fermentation process, especially with the huge heat that emanated from the boiling process. The kettle was heated to the extreme during the brewing process, which resulted in numerous fires in breweries during the 16th Century. As constituted at that time, with the conflagration of cities as the worst possible danger, the brewing of beer was prohibited during the summer months. To provide beer during the summer, large breweries dug cellars in the banks of the River Isar for the storage of beer, to keep it cool. To further reduce the cellar temperature, they covered the river banks with gravel and planted chestnut trees, of which the leaves provided cooling shadow in summer.
Soon after that, the beer cellars were not only used to store but also to serve the beer. Simple tables and benches were set up among the trees, creating "beer gardens", and soon they were a popular venue for the citizens of Munich. This aggrieved the smaller breweries that remained in Munich. To prevent further loss of customers, they petitioned Maximilian I to forbid the serving of food in the beer cellars surrounding Munich. Consequently, in riposte, the beer gardens allowed their patrons to bring their own food - which is still common practice today.
This decree is no longer in force, and many beer gardens do serve food today. But according to the current Bayerische Biergartenverordnung (Bavarian beer garden decree) of 1999, traditional beer gardens that still allow their patrons to bring their own food and serve beer under shading trees are privileged in regard to a later closing hour and noise limits. Otherwise the term Biergarten is not restricted, and anyone can call any kind of open air restaurant by that name.
An important part of life for many citizens, the Bavarian Biergärten usually serve common Bavarian cuisine such as Radi (radish), Brezn, Obatzda, halbes Hendl (half a grilled chicken), Hax'n (knuckle of pork) and Steckerlfisch (grilled fish).
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