Ultimate Guide to NYC Beer Gardens

From Manhattan to Brooklyn to Queens, where to sip brew outdoors
by Jenny An on Jul 9, 2013 in Roundups
Ultimate Guide to NYC Beer Gardens

Oompah! There are few pleasures as great as being outside in the warm weather with a cold beer in hand. Though some of the liter-sized steins served throughout New York City's booming beer garden scene may be challenging to guzzle before they lose their chill, that's part of the fun. Throw in a pretzel with mustard and you have relaxation at its best. Here's where to go, and why. 

For the ADHD: Beekman Beer Garden 
South Street Seaport, Manhattan 
With house-smoked BBQ on the menu and more than five taps heavy on the local and seasonal, this garden's food and drinks are reason enough to visit. But it's the lineup of events — like George Clinton performing this August — plus activities like ping-pong and billiards plus stunning views that make it memorable. There's even sand to dig your toes into (89 South St.; 212-896-4600). 

For Sloppy Day Drinking: Gowanus Yacht Club
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn 
While being outdoors with an brew is an indisputable pleasure of life, there are lots of reasons one might be looking for said beer. Sometimes you want to impress a date, sometimes you want to relax with a nice book. If what the heart desires is a good ole' drinking time, where eight taps (including several locals) keep glasses happy and full, make your stop near the shores of the Gowanus Canal (323 Smith St.; 718-246-1321). 

For Business: The Standard 
Meatpacking District, Manhattan 
Communal tables, exposed brick, darn good pretzels. All things you'd expect from a beer garden, and now you can find them at this extravagant hotel, with plants and views galore. Being the Standard, it is always packed, but if you're looking to show of your "I know a guy" muscle, this is the place to impress (25 Cooper Sq.; 212-645-4646). 

For Pseudo-Authenticity: Radegast Hall & Biergarten
Williamburg, Brooklyn 
When you don't want to drink out of a glass but prefer a stein, this hall has you covered. From it's old walls (complete with a fireplace) to the accordion that makes frequent appearances, this is a great place to grab a pint, liter or pitcher of one of the 12 or so beers on draft. You'll definitely know you're still in Brooklyn, and Williamsburg specifically, but with snacks like the Munich Pretzel and entrees like bougie pierogies with swiss chard and beets, you won't even care (113 N. 3rd St.; 718-963-3973). 

For a Not so Authentic Experience: Studio Square 
Astoria, Queens 
If you think of beer gardens and their brethren, beer halls, as the original frat house (bunch of men with a lot of beer), this is authentic, in a way. (It's also an easy jaunt over to New York's oldest beer garden, Boheimian.) With beer going for $7 a half-liter, $13 a liter and $18 for a pitcher, it's easy to brush aside authenticity in favor of a a good time in this nice space with firepits and music (35 36th Ave.; 718-383-1001). 

For the Rooftop Views: La Birreria 
Flatiron, Manhattan
Struggle past the hoards of out of towners who descend on Eataly and head upstairs for a reprieve of sorts. Beautiful panoramic views of the Flatiron District and beyond greet you, as do housebrewed beers made with the help of Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head, Ted Musso of Baladin and Leonardo Di Vincenzo of Birra Del Borgo. Unfiltered, unpasteurized cask ales made just feet away from you — that's worth stopping for. While it's great in the summer, the covered roof makes it a good hideaway in winter, too (200 5th Ave.; 212-937-8910). 

For an After-Park Brew: Harlem Tavern 
Harlem, Manhattan
Harlem's bar scene has been booming, and this beer garden a great addition. Just off the park, there's live jazz on Saturday nights and other live music on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, great entertainment while curling up with a brew in the patio (2153 Frederick Douglass Blvd.; 212-866-4500). 

For Brunch Any Time: Loreley
Lower East Side, Manhattan and Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Relax in a rare spot of green (ish) on the Lower East Side. Come for the beer, stay for the food — nothing goes better with a brew than all-day brunch (7 Rivington St.; 212-253-7077). 

For A Choose Your Own Adventure: Franklin Park 
Crown Heights, Brooklyn
With multiple rooms with different vibes depending on the day (and also depending on how well the currently player is doing on the video games), this notably less-traditional beer garden outshines its communal-table-covered, liter-size-stein-serving cousins with and variety with a big, lush, green-filled patio amongst them (618 St. John's Pl.; 718-975-0196). 

For the Brew Guru: Spuyten Duyvil 
Williamsburg, Brooklyn 
Beer fanatics in New York know it's hard to beat the beer list at Joe Carroll's beer haven. Its constantly changing lineup of six draft beers is always interesting and well-curated, and the bartenders are usually kind enough to provide samples and explanations — if it's not too busy. Plus, casks. There's usually one of those too. You might not find your old favorite on the list, but there are plenty of new favorites to discover (359 Metropolitan Ave.; 718-963-4140). 

To Try and Drink Them All: Spritzenhaus 
Greenpoint, Brooklyn
With more than 20 beers on tap and many more than that in cans and bottles, this bar challenges you to a fantastic night of drinking. While not technically outside, the communal tables are old-school Munich and the roof makes it great to enjoy in the winter and on all those rainy days too (33 Nassau Ave.; 347-987-4632). 

For an After-Work Break: Bierhaus
Midtown East, Manhattan 
There's no mistaking this beer garden for being anywhere but Midtown. Loud crowds just off from office jobs are the norm, but with its long, communal tables and steins that are bigger than your head, this hall has a few steps up on the authenticity game (712 3rd Ave.; 212-867-2337). 

For New York Authentic: Zum Schneider
East Village, Manhattan
One of the pioneers of the current beer garden frenzy, this spot has both indoor and outdoor tables and plenty of Bavarian brew on tap and in bottles. Pro tip: it can get crowded pretty quickly, so be ready to fight for your stein.

Photo by Danya Henninger


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