What is a Beer Garden? (Traditional History & Modern Etiquette)

What is a beer garden or biergarten? Is it just a bar? Where did they come from? America hopped on the trend during a period of emigration, but there’s more to it than that.

Bavarian brewers stored their beer in the biergarten during the summertime in the middle of the 18th century to prevent brewery fires in the seasonal heat. Modern-day beer gardens, however, are significantly different. They are now large areas – often attached to breweries or restaurants – that serve beer and food with live entertainment and games. 

For more on the history of beer gardens, as well as what they are today and how they’ve changed, continue reading. Plus, we’ve gathered a list of six of the most popular beer gardens from across the country!

What is a traditional beer garden?

Beer gardens, or biergartens, originated in Bavaria in the 19th century when breweries were constantly catching fire in the heat of summer months. Maximilian I banned summertime brewing which ultimately led to the creation of the beer garden.

Beer gardens were originally dug out spaces to store beer in during the summer. Beer was stored, covered with gravel and dirt, and trees were then planted on top of the beer to create shading from the sun’s scorching rays. That’s why traditional beer gardens are always outside, underneath a canopy of trees.

Beer gardens have now become a place for serving beer and food, and are more common in Europe than they are in the U.S.

Who invented the beer garden?

The beer garden was born out of a collection of breweries in Germany.

Not credited to a single person, the invention of beer gardens resulted from a ban on summer brewing because breweries were catching fire from the seasonal heat.

When did beer gardens originate?

When did these things start popping up?

Beer gardens originated in the early 1800s when Bavaria’s first king, Maximilian I, banned the brewing of beer during the summertime to prevent brewery fires.

What do they serve at beer gardens?

Beer gardens serve more than just beer.

Beer gardens serve both beer and food and have always done this since they were created in the 19th century.

Many beer gardens are offshoots of German restaurants or serve food prepared in the same space. Some beer gardens may offer a roster of food trucks instead of preparing their own food in-house.

Is a beer garden the same as a bar?

Some beer gardens might have a bar. Does that mean that they’re the same thing?

Beer gardens are different from bars. An outdoor beer garden with shady trees or umbrellas, picnic tables, games, and music might have similar characteristics to a bar or restaurant, but they’re also different because of these things. Beers gardens contain German history and tradition.

While it may be difficult to define, one of the main differences between a bar and a beer garden is the atmosphere. Visit your local beer garden to experience the difference!

Does America have beer gardens?

Are beer gardens a thing in the states? Sure, but they’re a bit different than the originals in Bavaria.

America has beer gardens. They were brought over shortly after their conception in Bavaria when Germans and other Europeans emigrated to the U.S. Since Americans were able to brew beer in the summer, there wasn’t a need to store any in a beer garden. This made beer gardens more of an entertainment enterprise than a practical storage solution.

Historically, America’s beer gardens were a place for fun games, food, and beer. Unlike the original gardens that have tree canopies for shade, American gardens mostly use umbrellas. Original American beer gardens were bigger and offered more forms of entertainment like bowling and concerts, but now they often offer just food, beer, and the occasional live music.

History of the American beer garden

America was quick to incorporate beer gardens into society when emigrants from Germany and other parts of Europe came to America. With them, they brought the beer garden idea.

American beer gardens became more of an entertainment industry compared to their original purpose of storing beer. The American beer garden was very large and soon incorporated activities like games, concerts, and dance halls. 

Current beer garden trends in America

Beer gardens in America have their own trends. They mostly resemble originals but with exceptions.

Beer gardens in America don’t always use trees for shading. Although locations might have trees surrounding the area, most shade is provided by umbrellas or awnings. Beer gardens in America also don’t usually store beer – because they never had to.

American beer gardens are social and entertainment spaces rather than strictly functional.

What to expect at a beer garden

If a beer garden is on your bucket list for this summer, you should know what to expect when you get there.

Beer gardens are big, open spaces with lots of seating – and beer. Be prepared to mingle with others and try a beer you might have not had yet. As for food, classic American cuisine is prevalent in beer gardens. Expect to see burgers, fries, and wings. You may also find some German dishes in the right place.

You might even encounter some board games or cornhole, as well as a live concert or band on the weekend.

Popular beer gardens in America

There are still a lot of beer gardens in America. Some of the best ones are sprinkled across the country but are totally worth the visit.

We’ve made a list of some popular beer gardens in America – with an emphasis on region and quality:

  • Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden
  • Raleigh Beer Garden
  • Der Biergarten
  • Brewsters Beer Garden
  • Texas Biergarten

Try one of the 378 different beers at Raleigh Beer Garden, or tuck yourself away for the afternoon in the cozy Little Beast Brewing Beer Garden.

Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden – Queens, New York

Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden is one of the largest drinking venues and beer gardens in the U.S.

This establishment added its beer garden in 1919, almost immediately before prohibition. It survived, though, and serves beer and food to this day.

Raleigh Beer Garden – Raleigh, North Carolina

If the beautiful scenery and wonderful atmosphere aren’t enough for you at the Raleigh Beer Garden, perhaps the draft list it.

The Raleigh Beer Garden hosts the largest selection of draft beer in the world with an incredible 378 taps. 

Der Biergarten – Atlanta, Georgia

Der Biergarten is located in the heart of Atlanta and offers genuine German cuisine and infrastructure.

It has an extensive tap list and food menu and even has an indoor section if the outdoor beer garden is unavailable upon your visit. 

Brewsters Beer Garden – Petaluma, California

Brewsters Beer Garden in Petaluma, California, is a great sunny spot for a summer adventure to a beer garden.

With plenty of beer garden options along the West Coast and in California specifically, Brewsters sticks out with a tasty food menu and draft list. 

Texas Biergarten – Missouri City, Texas

Southern charm, menu variety, and an awesome beer garden! Texas Biergarten in Missouri City, Texas, offers a wide variety of craft beer, macro brews, and delicious Southern comfort food with a German blend.

With something to please anyone, this beer garden is undoubtedly one to try this year. 

Little Beast Beer Garden – Portland Oregon

A hidden gem, Little Beast Beer Garden is a must-stop if you’re in the area.

This quaint and aesthetically pleasing beer garden in Southeast Portland is a cheeky spot to enjoy a beer and delicious Kansas City-style meals if you’re along the West Coast.