Beer gardens are making a resurgence and popularizing outdoor drinking once again. Most of us are used to drinking indoors but you cannot keep cooped up something that brings so much happiness and joy to so many people. The concept of drinking outdoors is certainly nothing new. Rather it is the manner in which we assembled outdoors to enjoy our favorite beverages that would see the largest change. Beer gardens offer an outdoor venue that brings together a large number of people who all have the same thing on their minds, drinking, eating and socializing while soaking up some sunshine.
Beer gardens or more specifically biergartens originated in Germany and have been in operation since the 1500’s. It’s not known which one of the major Munich breweries was the first to open a beer garden. However, the idea was so popular that each brewery built its very own beer garden. It all started when laws were created to prohibit breweries from brewing beer during the warmer season to reduce the risk of fire when boiling mashed grain into the wort. Instead of brewing beer only in the cooler season the breweries took their craft underground into cellars so they could brew beer year round. Some of the breweries planted large shade trees above the cellars to help keep the cellars cooler. These trees offered a nice and shady area where guests could sample some of the brewery’s creations. Beer gardens quickly became a staple in Bavarian culture and the momentum swept over Europe. Soon many countries had their own versions of beer gardens. What was once a clever idea to keep a cellar cool turned into an international pastime for beer drinkers everywhere.
It wasn’t until 1866 when the first beer garden in the United States was open by a Civil War veteran and German immigrant, August Scholz. Scholz made his home in Austin, Texas and opened his own beer garden named Scholz Garten. Still in operation today Scholz Garten is not only the first beer garden in the United States but also one of the oldest bars in the country. The beer garden concept was as popular with the American people as it was throughout Europe and American-Bavarian style beer gardens were becoming mainstays in American culture. That is, until prohibition put a screeching halt to all things related to alcohol and caused the beer gardens in America to become extinct. No longer could people enjoy an alcoholic beverage freely and openly and people turned to speakeasies and other illegal venues to wet their whistles. The entire alcoholic beverage industry either closed shop or went into hiding and had to operate on the other side of the law.
Today beer gardens in the United States are popping up just about everywhere from small towns to major cities, tourist destinations, on rooftops, and converted parking lots. Beer gardens are back in the main stream and more popular than ever before. With lush gardens, shade trees, water misters, fountains, live music, a large variety of beers, great food and more it is no wonder why beer gardens have made a strong comeback. The resurgence of beer gardens is thanks in part to a large craft beer moment that has breathed new life into an antiquated and status quo beer market. These days the new generation of legal age drinkers are demanding better venues where one can quench their thirst. More people are turning to a healthier lifestyle and seeking outdoor venues not binge drinking bars that offer cheap bar food. In any beer garden in any city you will see people engaging in activities you won’t find at a local dive bar. Patrons of beer gardens can be seen reading books, holding business meetings, bringing their pets, and live streaming their healthy menu choices all while enjoying a cold beer in the sunshine. The establishments where today’s generation are enjoying their favorite adult beverages have come a long way from the small, dimly lit, smoky, take or leave it bars where our ancestors had to hang out. The Germans may have come up with the idea of the beer garden but it was perfected right here in the United States.
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