When it comes to wine, Italians often do it better. Regarding all things beer, it’s the Germans who top the list. The European giants have given the world an assortment of beer styles and accompanying cuisine. Even better, they tend to do it in the carefree environment of the beer garden, or Biergarten in German, as an outdoor celebration of great suds and equally good company.
Americans have long adored and adopted the al fresco approach. It’s why we have some of the best rooftop bars, outdoor restaurants, breweries, and other tasting rooms on the planet. The beer garden is craft beer’s open-air party, a mashup of frothy beers, clanking glasses, grilled foods, and happy faces. These beloved spots embody the main purpose of the watering hole — to be a true and inviting gathering place.
In the States, there are actually quite a few beer gardens to choose from. And while they’re a great way to beat the heat of summer, many pull out the space heaters and rain covers and pour in the many months beyond. If you’re planning to have a night out with your friends, we got you. Here are the 11 best, inspired by German beer culture and rooted in American soil.
Charleston, South Carolina
There’s much to do in Charleston when it comes to food and drink. The Bay Street Biergarten should be on everybody’s list, whether you’re a local or thirsty visitor. Tying together Bavarian ways with the rich culture of the South, this 7,400-square-foot spot boasts a contemporary spin on the classic Munich drinking hall. There’s a food menu (think brats, pretzels, and doner kebab) as well as ample beers, wines, and cocktails to enjoy. All told, the place has a whopping 62 tap handles featuring domestic brews as well as the work of several storied German producers.
Sin City knows how to drink outside, making the beer garden a perfect fit here. Beerhaus brings the Old World to New York New York on the Strip. Patrons can choose from nearly 30 draft beer options, served alongside rotisserie chicken and beverage-friendly snacks like dogs and reubens. Outside of the brick-clad bar you’ll find a long line of benches and happy imbibers enjoying the Vegas scene to the tune of a few ice-cold pints.
Read more: Las Vegas Travel Guide
This L.A. hangout plucks all the best of the Bavarian experience and sets it down gracefully in Southern California. Beer nerds eager to try everything from schwarzbiers to weissbiers to pilsners will find endless options here. Many great Belgian beers join the Germany party — both in bottle and on draft — and there are a few well-curated American options as well. Beyond that, Wurstküche offers one of the most welcoming environments out there, in two locations (downtown and Venice). And if you like grub with your kolsch, the hip bar has one of the most innovative in-house sausage programs anywhere on the West Coast. Those looking for the atmosphere and maybe not so much the alcohol will appreciate the strong zero-ABV list of liquids.
Read more: Los Angeles Travel Guide
Axelrad takes the beer garden experience and gives it a dose of the avant-garde. On top of drinks, there’s a giant garden and usually any number of multimedia screenings or performances underway, making it a feast for the senses. Set on a former grocery store built a century ago, this beer-tasting joint has some of the coolest tap handles on the planet, dispensing American lagers, witbiers, hefeweizens, goses, IPAs, dunkels, and more. It’s a wonderful American adaptation of the classic drinking establishment, devised very much with art in mind as the main beer pairing.
Read more: Houston Travel Guide
Set in the Northlake neighborhood of Seattle just a short trek from ever-cool Gas Works Park, this beer garden has it all. It pours its namesake beers along with artisan sandwiches and is kid- and pet-friendly. The outdoor space is a barrel-lined stretch filled with pleasant foliage and jolly drinkers. The place offers some local ciders as well and is covered and heated for the many wet and blustery days the Emerald City tends to have.
There may not be a better name for a beer garden than Kaiser Tiger. The Windy City outpost has an all-weather beer garden pouring everything from lauded beers from the likes of 3 Floyds and Cigar City to German imports and even a house lager. A handful of lawn games can be played, set in a giant open-air space draped in hanging bulbs and overhanging tree branches. There’s even a few curling lanes for those looking to up their Olympic game while enjoying a weizenbock or two.
Read more: Chicago Travel Guide
This seasonal beer garden is the work of Trillium Brewing. It’s set ideally along the waterfront, walking distance from some of the best things Boston has to offer. It’s European-minded in layout, essentially a street corner turned into a drinking park, fit with picnic benches and plenty of people-watching opportunities. And Bean Town folks don’t take their good weather stretch lightly, so expect extra-happy company amid this fetching outdoor venue.
Read more: Boston Travel Guide
Prost! is incredibly popular — and for good reason. The Portland hot spot touts a well-curated beer list, hearty food, and an ambience that’s genuinely energizing and uplifting. It’s an ideal spot to try out some classic beer styles while a soccer game plays on the TV or you chat up a new friend just down within the cozy patio space. If you’re still craving something after a few drinks, try some of the house specialties or wander out to the cart pod just outside, which features some of the country’s best barbecue.
Read more: Portland Travel Guide
A short stroll from the Williamsburg Bridge, Radegast Hall honors the large-format approach of German drinking customs. Roughly 10 draft pours of Euro beers can be ordered by the half-liter, liter, and full pitcher, making it a great place for groups (with proper COVID protocol in mind, of course). There’s also an impressive list of bottled beers, including some trappist ales, Belgian beers, and a variety of pilsners. Not a place lacking in terms of entertainment, the NYC establishment features live music almost nightly.
Read more: New York Travel Guide
Drinking anywhere but outside in Miami feels like heresy. Butcher Shop knows as much, with locations in both Miami and nearby West Palm Beach. In addition to a host of great meats, including house-made sausages and a wonderful smoked selection, the place specializes in a host of beers from near and far, including some draft pours of several Florida craft operations. The patio is tidy and worth spending several hours in, fit with woodsy furniture and the creative energy that simply exudes from the Wynwood neighborhood.
Read more: Miami Travel Guide
Ven Elrod’s is home to 38 draft handles, many pouring the work from area breweries amid the Tennessee craft scene. Grab a doppelbock, marzen, or tripel and enhance it with a complementary pretzel, bratwurst, or turkey club. The outdoor digs are pretty special, sprawling in nature and set up with lengthy communal tables. There are weekly events too, like tremendous brunch and happy hour options along with stein-sized beer deals on Thursdays. Get ready to raise a mug to something you’re grateful for, like the refreshing Reissdorf Kolsch bubbling in your glass.
Read more: Nashville Travel Guide
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