Munich's beer garden season lasts as long as the sun permits from spring to autumn.
The 29 traditional beer gardens and the innumerable other outdoor areas serving drinks offer around 180,000 guests a seat in the open-air. Two of the largest beer gardens are the Hirschgarten with 8,500 seats and the Augustiner in the Arnulfstrasse with 5,000. Other popular meeting places are the beer gardens at the Victuals Market, around the Chinese Tower in the English Gardens and the Waldwirtschaft (Forest Pub), where jazz livens things up.
The shady chestnut trees, an integral part of a beer garden, originally served to cool down the beer, as the Bavarian Brewing Regulations did not allow beer to be brewed in summer, which made it necessary to store large quantities of winter beer in a cool place. Then the obvious thing to do was also to consume it on the spot. Although, following protests by the landlords, King Ludwig I prohibited the provision of food, the Munich people brought everything they needed along with them, from radishes to tablecloths.
An excellent custom, which has continued to this day, even though the ban on serving food has long since been forgotten. The Munich citizen orders his "Mass" (1 litre) of beer without batting an eyelid. And in most beer gardens (and at the Oktoberfest) beer is only served in 1-litre mugs. It is only "Weissbier", brewed from wheat, that can be bought in ½-litre glasses.
Munich's importance as the beer metropolis is also underscored by the international trade fair "drinktec-interbräu", which takes place every four years at the same time as the Oktoberfest.
One of Munich's trademarks, 411 years old, its name world-famous: that is the Hofbräuhaus. Beer lovers from all nations flock to the Hofbräuhaus throughout the year. There is room for 5,000 guests. Since 1589 it has been situated at the Platzl in the heart of the Old Town, and since 1852 the State of Bavaria has been responsible for brewing its beer. Today its name as a brewery is "Staatliches Hofbräuhaus" (State Court Brewery). The brewing facilities had to be moved from their original site as early as 1897 on account of the huge crowds of visitors. But the original house, rebuilt in neo-Renaissance style, still stands at the Platzl.