Beer gardens are outdoor enclosures where people over the age of 21 are invited to sample draughts, enjoy food and music and socialise. Beer gardens originated in Germany in the 19th century and may offer benches, picnic areas and kiosks selling food. While your beer garden may not be as large as Munich's Hirschgarten, with 8,000 seats, you can still make your place a great location to enjoy a brew or two.
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Brew Your Own (Label)
Take a cue from the hops and hop onto your computer to brew up a batch of custom beer bottle labels. While you may be serving bottles of anything from Natty Boh (National Bohemian) to local microbrews, you can customise the bottles with your beer garden logo, event date or favourite beer slogan, making them a take-home memento of the day. Make beer bottle labels with a graphics program such as Windows Paint or Adobe Photoshop or try a desktop publishing program such as Microsoft Publisher or Adobe InDesign. Include a small graphic, such as your mascot or beer stein, print out the labels on sticky paper and attach them right over the original labels. The bottles' caps will serve to remind bartenders how to recognise the varieties when people make requests.
Even if your local area only serves major beer names such as Michelob and Budweiser, you can give beer garden guests a taste of the exotic by offering foreign beers. Set up different stations around the garden, such as in each corner, with a flag of the country and taste testings of foreign beers. If you can't get cases of beers from the countries, crack open a few and pour shot glasses, so more guests can experiment with options such as Skopsko (from Macedonia), Banks (from Barbados), Cass (from South Korea) or Thule (from Iceland). Purchase foreign beers online from websites such as Beer Geek, which offers samplings from England, France, Germany and other distant lands.
While one of the laws of the original German beer gardens was that drinkers were allowed to bring their own food, some beer gardens also chose to serve and sell traditional Bavarian delicacies such as knuckle of pork, grilled fish and grilled chicken. You may not have the time for that kind of exotic cooking (and your guests may not be interested in consuming it), but you can still provide beer-themed munchies for your crowd to soak up some of the alcohol. Offer "beer nuts," which are sugary coated peanuts your guests may grab by the handful. Beer nuts may be made in large quantities; put them out on bowls along the beer garden tables and let guests go nuts.
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