Since I’ve been living in Munich (the capital of the German state of Bavaria) for a couple of years going to beer garden is a must. All the more because the beer garden culture started up in Munich, from the 19th century and its popularity is increasing worldwide. To explain a bit better how does it operate: in Germany the beer gardens are usually attached to a beer hall, pub, or restaurant, with a distinction being made between a Wirtsgarten where only food sold by the venue is allowed and a traditional Biergarten where patrons may also bring their own.
Short beer garden history of Munich
It is unknown which Munich brewery opened the first Bavarian Biergärten as the concept evolved over time, but it was likely one of Munich’s big six: Löwenbräu, Hofbräuhaus, Augustinerbräu, Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr and Spaten. What is known is that they developed in Germany in the then kingdom in the 19th century.
Seasonal limitations on when beer could be brewed were already in the Bavarian brewing regulations by 1539; in 1553, Albert V decreed a period from 29 September, the feast of St Michael to 23 April, the feast of Saint George, for its production. The cool seasons were chosen to minimize the risk of fire when boiling mashed grain into wort. Numerous conflagrations had occurred, resulting in the prohibition of brewing during the summer months. In response, large breweries dug cellars in the banks of the River Isar to keep their beer cool during storage. “Beer cellars” for consuming beer on premises naturally followed.
To further reduce the cellar temperature during the warm seasons, 19th century brewers covered the river banks with gravel and planted chestnut trees for their dense spreading canopies. Soon after that, serving cool beer in a pleasant shaded setting emerged. Simple tables and benches were set up among the trees, creating the popular “beer garden” we know today. Food service followed, aggrieving smaller breweries that found it difficult to compete. They petitioned Maximilian I to forbid it. In compromise, beer gardens allowed their patrons to bring their own food, still common practice. With the advent of widespread lagering in the later 19th century, beer gardens grew more popular than ever.
But Maximilian’s decree is no longer in force, and many beer gardens serve food, usually common Bavarian fare such as Radi (radish), Brezn (soft pretzel), Obatzda (cheese dip), halbes Hendl (half a grilled chicken), Hax’n (knuckle of pork), and Steckerlfisch (grilled fish). Equally important to the beer garden is an atmosphere of “Gemütlichkeit”, conveying a feeling of warmth, friendliness, and belonging. Reinforced by shared tables, it is often accompanied by music, song, and fellowship among strangers.
My favorite beer garden is in the middle of the Fürstenried forest, near from our home. Last week because of the heat-wave we decided to go there with some friends. After work we took our bikes and rode there. It was a nice Thursday evening luckily the beer garden-my Forst Haus Kasten– was not crowd as usual when the weather is that scorching hot. At the buffet area everyone had found their picks in record time. I chose the Spatzle, a kind of noodle with cheese and with fried onion flakes on the top my hubby chose the roasted ribs and since I never consume alcohol I picked up a fantastic local soft drink the dandelion with fresh orange and with mint (without alcohol). It was so good that I had to drink two! After drinking them I asked the recipe. Here it is for you
Dandelion flowers can be used to make dandelion wine, for which there are many recipes. Most of these are more accurately described as “dandelion-flavored wine,” as some other sort of fermented juice or extract serves as the main ingredient. In Germany instead of vodka, korn (or Branntwein-spirits) is often added to the dandelion flowers. But korn differs from vodka because in it is distilled to lower alcoholic proofs and less rigorously filtered, which leaves more of the cereal taste in the finished spirit
Ingredients: 70 g dandelion flower, 150 g lump sugar, 1 lemon, 0,7 l vodka or korn
Directions: Shake well the dandelion flowers, so that the small insects may fall out. Then pluck the tops of the yellow flowers. The pollen can flake heavily so wear gloves. (Yellow or green dye colors can be obtained from the flowers). Peel the skin of the lemon finely and then squeeze the juice from it. Put the dandelion flowers, the lemon zest, lemon juice and lump sugar in a glass and pour over the vodka. Let the drink in a bright place approximately for 4 weeks then filter off.
Korn (from German, “grain”) is a German colorless distilled beverage that is usually made from fermented rye but may also be made from barley or wheat. Korn is the cheapest kind of liquor available in northern Germany. It is very popular there and is regarded as the liquor of the working class.
The dandelion has several culinary and medicinal uses. The flowers are used to make dandelion wine or liqueur, the greens are used in salads, the roots have been used to make a coffee substitute (when baked and ground into powder) and the plant was used by Native Americans as a food and medicine.