If you haven't booked your tickets by now, chances are you'll be missing out on celebrating this year's Oktoberfest in Munich. The good news? Fall has finally arrived, ushering in the perfect excuse to enjoy the brisk autumn air with a Hefeweizen in hand. Might as well celebrate in style at one of these top-notch beer gardens scattered across the country.
(Brooklyn, New York)
The hipster haven of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is home to one of New York's most beloved beer gardens, Radegast Hall. Self-proclaimed as Brooklyn's first beer garden, it's a genuine slice of Germany that blends the best of all worlds: an extensive selection of draft and bottled beers, crafted cocktails, live music every day of the week, and a menu highlighting staples such as Munich pretzels and weisswurst. Oktoberfest festivities are already under way, including mug-holding competitions, pig roasts, ceremonial keg tappings and traditional music. Find shade in the summer, thanks to its retractable roof, which closes during colder months to keep guests nice and toasty.
(Las Vegas, Nevada)
If you find yourself in Sin City, ditch the casino cocktails and try your luck at Beerhaus at the Park, a nightlife district stretching from Las Vegas Boulevard to the T-Mobile Arena. The trendy yet casual beer garden offers a fresh take on the classic beer hall. Sip one of the 20+ draft brews, try your hand at a game of cornhole on the patio or sample fare such as schweineschnitzel (a pork schnitzel sandwich). From September 28 to October 1, Beerhaus will also feature outdoor beer tents with Oktoberfest beer selections from Munich-based breweries like Hacker-Pschorr and Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu.
(New Orleans, Louisiana)
While we normally wouldn't stray from the Big Easy's culinary legends like shrimp po'boys and Abita pints, Bayou Beer Garden is a worthy cause. Hidden beyond the walls of what appears to be a ramshackle cottage is one of NOLA's best open-air drinking spaces. Less traditional than the others on this list, this Mid-City bar offers a cozy respite from the city's more infamous watering holes. Grab a seat in the rustic courtyard and try the signature disco fries (smothered in cheddar cheese and roast beef gravy) paired with one of the 130+ beers, or explore the adjacent wine garden.
If you can't celebrate Oktoberfest oversees, Leavenworth is the next best thing. This Bavarian-themed village is tucked away in central Washington, bordered by the Cascade Mountains. The entire town has Alpine charm that entices visitors all year long, and München Haus Bavarian Grill & Beer Garden is one of the star attractions (along with the Nutcracker Museum—yes, seriously). Locals and visitors alike cherish the family-friendly establishment for its award-winning frankfurters and rotation of locally brewed beers. Don't miss the remarkable mustard selection and flourishing flower gardens that will transport you to the Bavarian Alps.
Banger's Sausage House & Beer Garden is the definition of good, old-fashioned fun. Long wooden communal tables adorn the verdant outdoor garden, perfect for relaxing with friends or meeting new people. Each week, the team cranks out an astonishing 2,000 pounds of sausage by hand in 30 creative combinations (such as duck, bacon and fig; rabbit and mushroom; and shiitake Manchego). There's even a specialty canine sausage for your four-legged friend to enjoy in the off-leash dog park. Banger's also boasts the third-largest draft system in Texas, with more than 100 options on tap and another 50 canned brews.
When you envision Downtown Atlanta, chances are German beer garden doesn't exactly spring to mind. But it just might now. Meet Der Biergarten, the city's first indoor/outdoor beer garden. Co-owner Wolfgang Hartert is a native of Germany who ensured everything from decor to menu items were true to his homeland. The extensive beer list showcases a diverse variety of regional specialties, including lagers, pilsners, Dunkels and more. The decadent schokoladenkuchen, or chocolate cake, is a treat for anyone with a sweet tooth. Partake in Oktoberfest merriments every weekend through October 15, including $5 brats, live Bavarian music and a themed 5K run.
Thanks to the abundance of breweries, bars and beer gardens, Denver is one of America's premier beer destinations. And of the myriad options to choose from, Denver Beer Co. is an original that can't be missed. The owners opened the hot spot in 2011 after taking a trip to Germany and drawing inspiration from the beer gardens of Bavaria, and even handcrafted each of the communal tables for an authentic Oktoberfest feel. Craft beer using only seasonal and locally sourced ingredients is what it does best. Try the Graham Cracker Porter or Flower Power Honey Lavender Kolsch. Should hunger strike, check out the rotating schedule of food trucks.
Ian Centrone is a native New Yorker and freelance writer currently exploring South America. Follow his adventures at @iancentrone.
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