Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Wed July 22 2015

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  • Worldwide Scott | July 22, 2015 11:00 PM ET

    4 Things You Must Do At A German Beer Garden

    4 Things You Must Do At A German Beer Garden

    Photos by Worldwide Scott

    To many, "beer garden" is just any old place outdoors where you can park your stein and have a drink. I used to think that way, too. Then I went to the birthplace of the beer garden, Germany, and was blown away from my brew.    

    The beer garden is an iconic institution in Germany, especially in Bavaria, the biggest state in the country. And all it took was one trip full of sips to realize that these shrines to summertime suds and the concrete patios full of plastic white chairs back home are two completely different animals. 

    German beer gardens spring to life around this time every year, and any journey to the region demands a visit (and with the dollar super-strong against the euro, the price is right). Here are the four things you absolutely must do at these gardens of earthly delights.

    1. Look Up At The Trees

    Regardless of what German beer garden you choose to go to, you will likely enter under a canopy of chestnut trees, and this is no coincidence.

    In the old days, brewers were only allowed to make beer during the winter, so in order to enjoy the frothy fruit of their labor during the summer, they would store the barrels in dark cellars underground. Chestnut trees were then planted on top of the cellars to provide protection from the sun, keeping the beer as cool as possible. Later on, the breweries were granted the right to sell beer on the spot, and since the shady trees and empty space above was already in place, the beer garden was born.

    While German breweries are allowed to make beer all year long nowadays, the crunch of chestnuts under your feet and the shade the trees provide on a sunny day are still synonymous with the German beer garden experience. 

    2. Drink Beer

    This may seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many tourists can’t adapt to the beer garden style. Flustered and confused, they quickly leave, without even trying out the offered suds. Don't be like them — order a beer, lift it, and then drink it.

    A beer garden will never be confused with a trendy craft beer bar, as typically only one or two crisp lagers from one particular brewery will be on tap and in some of the more popular beer gardens, you just walk up and grab a stein that has already been poured for you, cafeteria-style. 

    In addition to the ubiquitous golden lager, a popular summertime beer is a radler, which is a combination of lager and lemonade. Hearty and cloudy wheat beer has always been available in my experience as well.  

    3. Eat Food

    While historically, German beer gardens were bring-your-own-food affairs, many beer gardens now serve their own snacks and filling fare. I whole-heartedly recommend eating some during your trip to the beer garden, especially if you have been successful at the aforementioned ordering and drinking beer. You can never go wrong with a giant pretzel, roast chicken, or pork knuckle, just make sure to get a picture of yourself holding that pretzel before you eat it, because we're talking profile picture material, folks. 

    4. Make Friends

    Unlike happy hour, a German beer garden experience doesn't come with an expiration date (well, except for closing time) and locals won't necessarily think you are weird for plopping down at a table and chatting with them — that part comes later. The whole idea of a beer garden is to relax and unwind and catch up with friends, and this process of taking it easy is taken seriously. Unlike most bars back home, you will see children, pets, and people of all ages mingling in the fresh air of the beer garden together adding a special element to the atmosphere that simply can't be duplicated.

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Worldwide Scott The Adventures of Worldwide Scott

Worldwide Scott Born in the U.S.A like Springsteen but trying to see the world like Pitbull, Worldwide Scott is the voice behind the hard-hitting travel site of the same name. Employing a groundbreaking strategy of visiting destinations, coming home, and then writing things about them on the internet, Worldwide Scott only tackles the tough questions that other writers wouldn't dare touch: Is travelling fun? Are there pretty places in the world? Do people in other countries wear clothes? Does Europe really exist? And if so, what's the beer like there? Stick around, he's going places.
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