Beer: cold, delicious, exactly what you want on a hot summer day. Gardens: … hey, they’re all right too. But combine them (and misspell them) and you come up with biergarten, that wonderful Germanic word that refers to any magical place where you can enjoy a cold beer on a warm day right under the sun, just as the beer gods intended. And with spring nearly here, we figured there was no better time to round up the very best biergartens our country has to offer. We call it… The 17 Best Biergartens in America. Catchy, right?
Biergarten, San Francisco: We all know the old saw about summers and San Francisco (long story short: They’re cold), but that’s no reason to deny yourself the pleasure of giant dunkels and gianter pretzel dumplings at this creatively named five-year-old Hayes Valley joint. And if it gets chilly—or you want to get cozy with your drinking companion—they’ll happily offer you a blanket.
Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden, NYC: A century of beer enthusiasts have found refuge at this Czech spot in Queens, where a pitcher of Spaten Oktoberfest is a must. As is some planning: The lines get long on the weekends, so best to bring a colleague or 20 on a school night instead. And come hungry, as the fresh-grilled brats are not to be missed.
Der Biergarten, Atlanta: This place is legit, not least because it’s run by a real-life German. (Actual name: Wolfgang.) They keep a couple German beers on tap at all times, which you can make best use of by joining the Stein Club, which entitles you to $8 liters of beer served in your very own stein. Lederhosen optional.
Easy Tiger, Austin: You can look at this place two ways. Way one: as a pedigreed spot with serious eats—there’s a bakery inside, and the comfort food-heavy menu’s by a Top Chef alum. Way two: as a beer joint with a ton of beer, a bunch of ping-pong tables and a location on party-friendly Sixth Street. For the record, both ways are right.
Frankford Hall, Philadelphia: This isn’t your vater’s biergarten. The design is sleek and modern, the food is by a legit chef, and… you can order German beers by the liter. (Hey, if it ain’t broke). Order up a riesenpretzel (that’s German for “giant pretzel”) and consider trying a (timely) Purple Rain, a beer cocktail made with blackcurrant liqueur, hard cider and the local Yards pale ale.
Greenwood Park, NYC: Hit this Brooklyn spot on a Saturday afternoon, and you’ll find punk-loving kids drinking beers next to dads with strollers. (Baby-friendly Park Slope is nearby, as is Greenwood Cemetery, where Boss Tweed and Basquiat, among others, are buried.) The draft selection is excellent and adventuresome, though you also can’t go wrong with a four-buck pint of Narragansett, one of the best bargains in the borough.
Grünauer, Kansas City, MO: You know it’s the real deal when it has an umlaut. The menu is deliciously unpronounceable, home to wammerl (crispy pork belly with dumplings) and miesmuscheln auf teufelsart (mussels), and the draft list is a nice mix of German and local. If, for some strange reason, it’s not a sausage-and-giant-beer night, hit up Wunderbar, their cocktail bar next door.
Lowry Beer Garden, Denver: Colorado has one of the highest rates of breweries per capita, and this might be the best place to try a bunch of ’em at once. It’s a giant indoor-outdoor space next to an old airplane hangar, with room for you and 349 likeminded beer aficionados. And like a lot of the newer biergartens on this list, it offers better food than it has to.
Mecklenburg Gardens, Cincinnati: At 150 years old, this Corryville biergarten has survived Prohibition, two World Wars and the last 25 years of uninspiring Reds baseball. Point is, it’s old. Which means you’ll find a refreshingly no-frills, old-school menu with wurst and schnitzel and charmingly weathered decor. Love accordion music? A live accordionist occasionally serenades the crowd. Also, strange.
The Pharmacy, Nashville: Your prescription: a frosty pint of local ale, administered in this leafy garden underneath strings of white lights. Your recommended dose: one pint, taken at regular intervals. Directions: Wash down with food, preferably the Biergarten Platter (three brats with your choice of sides). Possible side effects include laughing, conversation-making and feelings of mirth.
Prost!, Portland, OR: When Germans toast, they say “Prost!” And when Oregonians want a cold one in the great outdoors, they go here, where the beers are exclusively German, the staff has been known to wear liederhosen and the smoked sausage selection is best described as “vast.” Come here often? Join the Stein Club, and you’ll earn complimentary lederhosen after your 100th beer.
The Rathskeller, Indianapolis: This place is genuinely stunning, and not just in the way that a joint with impressive beer lists and a room named after Kurt Vonnegut’s grandfather is stunning. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can rent it out for a wedding, thus closing it down for you and 599 guests. (Actual wedding optional.) Bonus: easily the coolest name on this list.
Rhein Haus, Seattle: This place makes a strong argument that a biergarten can still be a biergarten even if it’s entirely indoors. It’s frickin’ huge, and it’s frickin’ beautiful, and not just because it serves giant beers. Stay active by playing a few rounds of bocce on the handsome courts. On weekends, they’re first-come/first-serve, but you can reserve a court ahead of time if you’re going on a weekday.
Sheffield’s, Chicago: So you say a biergarten isn’t enough. That 30 beers on tap doesn’t impress you. Drinking under the stars? You could go either way. Well, imagine a place that has those things, as well as a charming indoor bar and… house-smoked barbecue. This is that place. And if you don’t like those things, we really can’t help you.
Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, San Diego: At 11,315 square feet, Stone’s Liberty Station location is one of the biggest gardens on the list and has more than enough space for bocce courts and outdoor movie screenings (Office Space, The Goonies). They’ve got 40 beers on tap, many of which come from Stone’s famous brewery. They have a spot in Escondido and, soon, in Berlin. San Diegans are spoiled.
The Truck Yard, Dallas: “Wanna go to the treehouse bar? Because this biergarten literally has a treehouse bar.” This is a thing you can and should say at the Truck Yard, which also boasts an airstream that doubles as the main bar. (It helpfully has a neon sign that reads “BAR.”) Expect a raucous and sizable crowd.
VBGB, Charlotte, NC: Drinking beer, they say, is like an intimate game of chess. Wait, no one says that. But they might if they go here, where you’ll find an oversized chess board, with pieces as tall as the average human. The pleasure’s not all high-brow, though—this is a beer-forward bar that’s not too proud to offer PBR on tap.
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