Spending a boozy alfresco afternoon in a beer garden is one of summer’s great pleasures. The down-to-earth alternative to rooftop bars, beer gardens come in many guises, from traditional biergartens to gritty back lots. Whether you want European suds and spaetzle in NYC or craft beer and grilled cheese in San Francisco, soak up some rays with your suds at one of these top outdoor drinking spots.
Best beer gardens in America
Despite this warehouse-like watering hole’s 9,000-square-foot rooftop, there’s often a line out the door at Asbury Park Festhalle & Biergarten. Among the 100-plus beers are domestics like Massachusetts’s Spencer Trappist Ale and Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, and unusual imports like Leipziger Gose. Haus dishes are a mix of pub grub, European specialties like Hungarian beef goulash and more than half a dozen types of sausage. Come early to secure your seat at a shared table—especially on weekends.
Friendly pooch Bar Dog is the official mascot of this sprawling brewpub. The quirky outdoor lot, which is decorated with a giant skull made of beer caps, has enough picnic tables to seat 500. Instead of employing a head brewer, Bardo crowd-sources recipes from some of the country’s best brewers, resulting in a variety of tastes and styles. The three-page menu lists some cult favorites, like the Marion Berry Lambic, as well as malty brews like the Black Watch Scotch Ale and a bacon IPA.
With its tiki stylings and swaying palms framing the wide open sky, this Mid-City haven seems more like a tropical oasis than an urban house of suds. But Bayou doesn’t specialize in fuity umbrella-capped drinks; it’s a serious brew nerd’s den, with dozens of local, domestic and international options. The beer menu is well organized for the uninitiated, or you can just ask the a friendly bartender for advice, then sit back on the shady porch and enjoy a mini escape from city life.
Reflecting L.A.’s true patchwork of cultures, Biergarten channels Germany through a Korean lens: Platters of brats are dished up alongside Korean fried chicken, kimchi short-rib fried rice, and burgers both American and international. The beer list combines Old World ales, like malty Spaten Optimator, with West Coast IPAs like Bear Republic Racer 5, and the space boasts flatscreens that draw sports fans of all nationalities.
The semipermanent spin-off of German restaurant Suppenküche down the street, the über-hip Biergarten consists of picnic tables and a bar/kitchen carved out of metal shipping containers, sidled up against the side of the SF Jazz Center. On warm afternoons and even cool ones (the bar provides wool blankets), the young, bearded and thirsty kick back with liters of Stiegel Pils and Hefeweizen, or bottles of Underberg bitters and celebrate…whatever. The munchies menu provides a tasty Teutonic base for all that beer, including bratwurst, and giant chewy pretzels topped with mustard and horseradish or stuffed with cheese and charcuterie.
Pouring beer for more than a century, this Czech beer garden is not only a brew lover’s daydream but also a New York institution. At once lively and laidback, Bohemian Hall is known for its rock-bottom prices (a pitcher will set you back $16) and traditional eats including beef goulash, potato pierogi and kraut-topped spaetzle. Though the huge, tree-canopied garden is open year-round, summer is the prime time to soak up some rays over a pint.
The Butcher Shop has built its reputation on being the place for big beers. If a hefty pint just won’t cut it, order the popular beer tower, which dispenses up to three liters of goodness. Fill it with any of the 24 varieties on tap—a mix of American craft beers and releases from local craft breweries, such as Wynwood Brewing Co. and Biscayne Bay Brewing. A menu of burgers, house-made sausages and just-baked pretzels make for great pairings. A large covered patio with rows of picnic tables and bistro lights give the industrial space a true beer-garden feel.
Co-owned by a German expat and located near Atlanta’s Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola and Olympic Park, Der Biergarten offers a legit list of German beers like Weihenstephan Original lager and Benediktiner Weissbier. Regulars can join the Stein Club, which, naturally, includes a personal liter-size stein you can fill each visit for $8. Live Bavarian music, quarterly beer seminars, tasting events and Wiener schnitzel keep beer geeks, homesick Europeans, and casual drinkers coming back to the rustic indoor space and patio.
Easy Tiger takes German fare up a notch with freshly made sausages like classic bratwurst (pork and veal with mustard and kraut) and duck with pork and fennel marmalade. This is a bakery too, so don’t miss the house-made pretzels with beer cheese. Day drinkers, take heed: One of the 33 tap selections like Victory’s Headwaters pale ale or Austin Beerworks Pearl Snap pilsner go down easily in the outdoor beer garden, which is open until 2am.
Estabrook is one of several beer gardens in Milwaukee’s public parks, a tradition imported by the city’s early German immigrants. But its prime location, on the banks of the Milwaukee River, overlooking a waterfall, gives it an edge over the competition. Arrive on foot or by bicycle, kayak, canoe or (if you must) car, and spend part of the day exploring the park’s trails. The garden features Hofbräu München beers and, like many in Bavaria, is cash-only and requires a glassware deposit for your stein.
In the summer, German market Gene’s Sausage Shop opens its glorious rooftop and serves canned and draft beer, grilled sausages, potato pancakes and pretzels. The beer is icy-cold, the sausages are showstoppers, and the only concern is managing to finagle a table big enough for all your friends. Once you’ve had your fill, stop at the market downstairs and pick up some imported chocolates and house-made sausages—leave time to choose between more than 40 varieties.
Kansas City is better known for its barbecue joints, but if you’re all ’cued up, head to Grünauer. Snag one of the sleek teak outdoor tables and enjoy authentic brews with variations on schnitzels, sausages or goulash dishes like a take on the classic Hungarian specialty made with slow-braised Wagyu beef, or the Schwammerl (porcini and champignon mushrooms in an herbed cream sauce, served with crêpes). The Austrian-style food-and-drink destination even has a special menu to celebrate Frühschoppen, the custom of having an alcoholic drink before noon on Sunday with friends.
An industrial-style indoor/outdoor beer garden, Frankford Hall offers seating for more than 100 people and a dozen taps of mostly Bavarian-style beers, brewed at home and abroad. Sip a $10 beer cocktail like the Beerloma (Schöfferhofer, Espolón blanco tequila and lime) while playing games like Jenga and Ping-Pong that will get you out of your shared picnic-table seats and moving around the trendy space.
Even gluten-free beers are available at Lowry Beer Garden, a popular outdoor hangout next to the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum. Despite the travel association, the food-and-drink focus is closer to home—accompany your elk jalapeño brats with an Avery or Odell IPA, or a Lone Tree Mountain Mama Helles or New Belgium Shift lager. “Recovery Sundays” feature live music and drink specials, while foosball, Ping-Pong and $3 happy-hour drafts keep a loyal local crowd coming all week long.
Radegast offers patrons two sprawling spaces to hoist mighty two-hands-needed steins at wooden communal tables while scarfing down Bavarian staples like schnitzel, sausages and strudel. Outside in the garden, a retractable roof allows revelers to bask in sunlight on balmy summer days; inside, you can expect an equally buzzing scene courtesy of nightly musical performances. The Bedford Ave–stop beer hall has more than 20 different brews on tap and over twice that number in bottles. Prost!
Indy’s huge beer garden, the Rathskeller, is a nonstop summer party, with lots of picnic tables (though not nearly enough to seat everyone who descends upon the space on nice weekend nights) and a stage for entertainment, including polka bands. There are multiple bars, so grab a German draft beer, order snacks like a brat on a pretzel roll and join the rousing celebration.
Skylights and twinkling chandeliers dangling from its soaring ceiling make Rhein Haus a stunning destination, day or night. (And since it’s indoors, the Seattle weather doesn’t have to be a factor in a visit here.) Grab a seat at the communal picnic tables and choose from the well-curated list of German- and Belgian-style beers on offer. The food menu is packed with Central European fare that’s perfect for soaking up the suds, and a vigorous hour at the popular bocce courts (available by reservation on weeknights, or on first-come, first-served basis on weekends) will help you work off at least a few of those carbs.
The best thing about the Truck Yard is the treehouse bar, which overlooks an outdoor seating area filled with colorful folding lawn chairs, old license plates, tires and other junky truck-part art. The mix of hipsters, yuppies and country folk makes for great people watching along with live music and grub from a convoy of rotating food trucks. While there’s nothing like a Shiner Bock on a hot Texas day, hand-bottled cocktails like the Knickerdropper (rum, Cointreau, fresh lime and house-made raspberry shrub) are welcome refreshers.
The grounds of Stone Brewing are like Disneyland for adults, with brewery tours, a gourmet restaurant, bocce ball courts, gardens with outdoor seating and a stunning indoor beer hall. A “Meatless Monday” menu features hemp seed pretzels and Stone Pale Ale Gruyère fondue; pair it with Stone Old Guardian barley wine or even one of several imports like Duvel Single Belgian pale ale. Weekly cask specials, tap takeovers, movie nights and beer-pairing dinners are all worth a special visit.
Bring a group of friends to VBGB and sip a killer list of craft brewskis while playing life-size chess, cornhole and Ping-Pong. A selection of craft beers are $3 all day on Tuesday and DJs play regularly on weekends. The suds destination is walking distance from the Fillmore and Time Warner Cable Amphitheater, making it a perfect pre-concert stop. Fall’s “Craftoberfest” features beer-stein races, chicken dancing and polka bands.
A slew of Belgian and German beers dominate the drink menu at both Wurstküche locations (Venice Beach and DTLA), but it’s the exotic sausages that draw lines at this popular beer garden. Buffalo, rattlesnake, rabbit—they’re all available here, alongside more classic bratwurst and Italian sausage picks. Don’t forget to order a “groot” worth of skin-on fries—that’s a shit ton of fries, in case you didn’t know.
San Francisco is a chill city, and it doesn’t get chiller than Zeitgeist. Outfitted with picnic tables, the beer garden stretches across a wide, open area defined by wooden fences, but large trees provide shady spots for those who prefer to stay out of direct sun. Inside, the bar taps dispense more than 40 beers—many of them from microbreweries—available by the pint or the pitcher, and a full kitchen serves excellent renditions of simple favorites like hamburgers, bratwurst and grilled cheese.