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Bavaria's best beer gardens

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17:38 CEST+02:00
The Local's guide to Germany's best beer gardens heads to the birthplace of it all.

Munich

Chinaturm

This 7,000-seat beer garden spilling out around the Chinese Tower has become practically synonymous with the English Garden's most recognisable landmark. Streams of students, amateur acrobats, tourists and even some Munich natives converge here to people watch or just take a load off while enjoying a mug of Bavaria's state-brewed Hofbräu. Private brewery Löwenbräu had served Munich's flagship beer garden in the 120 years running up to 2002, despite the locale's publically owned status.

The eye-catching Chinese Tower was originally built in 1789, destroyed in 1944, and rebuilt in 1952. On Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays its first floor serves up some Bavarian atmosphere with a traditional brass band.

0.3L beer from €3.00

Open daily from 10:00 am

www.chinaturm.de

Seehaus

Though an upscale restaurant dominates the premises at the Seehaus im Englischen Garten, there's no mistaking the distinct Bavarian warmth permeating the air at this waterside spot. Nestled along the shores of Lake Kleinhesseloher in Munich's lively Schwabing district, this beer garden stays open year-round – just as long as the sun is shining. The garden and accompanying house were designed by renowned German architect Gabriel von Seidl in the early 1880s, and the surrounding English Garden is often touted as one of the most beautiful urban parks in Germany.

0.25L beer from €2.70

Open daily from 10 am

www.kuffler-gastronomie.de

Augustinerkeller

As home to the traditional beer garden, Munich warrants an inherently old school pick. Augustinerkeller boasts some of the same cellar architecture used in the original Biergärten of the 19th century. For years, an ox was used to haul beer up from the cold depths of the riverside basement – but that practice was eventually replaced by machines despite its popularity with guests. By this locale's own historical accounts, the present site of the Augustinerkeller was in use for beer production as far back as the 17th century.

0.5L beer from €3.40

Open daily from 11 am

www.augustinerkeller.de

Forsthaus Kasten

Forsthaus Kasten is also home to more than just a picturesque beer garden. This place offers team-building activities and seasonal celebrations, but also simply a nice, cold Maß. Originally a welfare hospital confirmed by Pope Urban IV in 1268, the site grew tremendously over the next 500 years, passing through the hands of several organisations before finally emerging as a private locale 1899. Today, the husband and wife team of Johanna and Johann Barsy operate this rustic recreational patch just outside the Munich city limits.

0.5L beer from €3.70

Open daily from 11:30 am

www.forst-kasten.de

Hirschgarten

Europe's largest beer garden seats 8,000 and features a deer pen (yes, you may feed the animals). Despite its massive size, Hirschgarten boasts a peaceful atmosphere thanks to its location within a major park – formerly the hunting grounds for local royalty. Here guests have a choice of three beers, Augustiner, Hofbräu and Kaltenberg – perhaps a pleasant surprise to patrons familiar with Munich's typical single-beer bar or beer garden. The adjoining restaurant includes rooms which may be reserved for any number of special events, not to mention the myriad of year-round festivities organised by Hirschgarten itself.

0.5L beer from €3.00

Open daily from 11:00 am

www.hirschgarten.de/

Hirschau

Situated at the northern edge of Munich's English Garden, Hirschau could be considered one of the park's more down-to-Earth locales. Drinks and menu selections are well-prepared and fairly priced, and if that isn't enough, patrons are still allowed to bring in their own food. Despite being located not far from the Chinese Tower, this 1,300-seat beer garden sees fewer tourists, making for a more authentic, value-for-money experience. Following renovations from 2002 to 2005, Hirschau reopened to the general public under new management, complete with the revival of its traditional Tanzcafé featuring dancing every Sunday from 3 pm. There's also a sizeable playground for the kiddos.

0.3L beer from €2.00

Open daily from 10:00 am

www.hirschau-muenchen.de

Aumeister

Yet another draw to Munich's English Garden, Aumeister originally served as a forester's lodge, frequented by huntsmen and wayfarers looking to pause for a Maß before moseying on their way. By the end of the 19th century, however, the locale had developed into a popular spot among a wide range of city residents, and an official lodging permit was acquired in 1914. Though the days of burly hunters and sombre regulars are long gone, the chestnut trees, delicious beer and warm-hearted atmosphere remain. Parts of the beer garden can be reserved for groups or private events, and the kids should have no problem entertaining themselves on the neighbouring playground – when Pepino the magician isn't putting on one of his beloved Sunday shows, that is.

0.5L beer from €3.50

Open daily from 11:00 am

www.aumeister.de

Neu-Ulm

Schlössle

This locale, which triples as a brewery, restaurant and beer garden, was founded in 1690, making it one of the oldest private breweries in Bavaria. Four flavoursome beers are produced here: Schlössle, Spezial "March", Hefeweizen, Zwickel and a seasonal Bock, all of which can be purchased and taken home in flip-top bottles. Situated near the border with Baden-Württemberg, Schlössle was voted the region's best beer garden in 2000, 2004 and 2006.

0.5L beer from €3.00

Open daily from 10:30 am

www.schloessle.com

Regensburg

Alte Linde

Nestled along the banks of the Danube, Alte Linde overlooks Regensburg's peacefully staturesque Old Town and its 850-year-old Steinerne Brücke – a bridge considered by many to be a masterpiece of mediaeval architecture. The beer garden first opened its doors on Oberer Wöhrd island in 1901. Today, it's a popular spot to sit and gaze at the city and the folks frolicking on the neighbouring Jahninsel. This picturesque locale offers not only a kiddy play area to ensure a restful stay for parents, but visitors are also encouraged to book for social events.

0.5L beer from €3.10

Open daily from 11:00 am

www.altelinde-regensburg.de

Cham

D'Wasser Wirtschaft

The town of Cham may be small, but – true to its Bavarian roots – suffers from no shortage of beer garden delight. Since 1999, D'Wasser Wirtschaft has invited patrons to come and grace some of its 500 seats under chestnut trees near the river Regen. There's no curfew, although the staff won't hesitate to inform you that the beer garden would close for high water: the site's tumultuous history includes a series of floods. Also, be sure to come hungry as fresh bread from the outdoor wood stove is quite the effective marketing tool. Just smell for yourself.

0.5L beer from €2.30

Open daily from 10:00 am, 9:00 am on Sundays

www.wasserwirtschaft-cham.de

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