Keeping Warm in NYC's Best Biergartens

by Seanan Forbes on Jan 19, 2015 in Roundups
Keeping Warm in NYC's Best Biergartens

In October, New York City’s Biergartens are packed with people celebrating hoppiness and happiness alike. If you want to honor German tradition, though, you’ll haunt beer halls in every season of the year.

Established in 2003, Michael Momm’s Loreley has a focus on German comforts. A native of Köln, Momm wanted to bring the best of his birthplace to the Lower East Side. To guests, that means beer, bratwurst, currywurst, beer-marinated sauerkraut, fresh-from-the-oven pretzels, apple strudel and a brunch that’s served until 4 PM. There are sliders, fries, and vegetarian options – and there are cocktails and wine for those who prefer the concept of beer gardens to the reality of brews. On a cold night, treat yourself to Gluhwein, a spiced mulled wine that pours itself easily down the throat, knocking away the last of the clinging chill. There are far worse ways to keep an incipient head cold at bay.

Astoria has a beer hall with a lineage. The Bohemian Citizens’ Benevolent society was established in 1892. The Bohemian Beer Garden, in Bohemian Hall, serves imported and US beers by the pitcher and the mug. For food, scan a menu of “Czech Favorites” including fried Munster, slow-roasted beef and duck with cabbage. Dumplings are almost everywhere. They’re made to soak up gravy, but you’ll feel them doing a fine job of mopping up your inner beer as well. There are weekend and weekday menus, but the tap and wine menus (The latter includes some interesting Moravian reds and whites) are the first pages to read. With more than a century of experience, the Bohemian Beer Garden knows how to show guests a good time.

In Fort Greene, Die StammKneipe (originally Der Schwarze Kölner) has 18 beers on draught and more than 20 in bottles. The beer hall renamed itself Die Stammkneipe – The Locals’ Pub – because it had become exactly that: a place habituated by neighboring Brooklynites who appreciated the brews, food, atmosphere and elbow room. This is a place where you’ll have room to swing a pint – not that you’d want to. It’s a far better choice to just drink it. The menu varies, but you’ll always find lager, Pilsner, Bockbier, Weizenbier, at least one specialty beer and the indefinable “other”. As to whose lager, Pilsner et al you’ll find, that’s the variable. Quality is consistent. Most of the food is on the meaty side, but vegetarians will find choices here too. Pretzels come with indulgent sides: butter, mustard or Nutella. Yes, someone can help you to simultaneously sate your beer and your Nutella cravings. This is New York, after all.

There’s a children’s menu, which means that your children will be welcome and other people’s children may be present. Whether that’s enticing news is entirely up to you. If carbs and brewer’s yeast are your shiniest combination, then Die Stammkneipe could become your happy place.

Depending on the day, Radegast Hall can be ebullient to the point of rambunctiousness. It can also be meltingly mellow. Live jazz isn’t the only tune in town. Don’t be surprised if people jump up from their seats and dance to the livelier tunes. There’s something about an accordion . . . There are bargain prices, beer tastings, Thursday discounts and more. Radegast Hall has so many specials, it would take less space for the website to list special-free days. Long tables encourage a sociability that is very Austrian or German. In keeping, brews include some exceptional German and Austrian pours, on tap and in bottles. Menus for appetizers, entrees, lunch, brunch, grill, desserts, beers, wines, cocktails, brandies, liqueurs and special pairings make for thirst-inducing reading. Thirst-quenching is only an ask and a tap away. Be wary. It’s easy to enter into a food-and-beer-induced coma at Radegast.

In warm weather, the Standard’s Biergarten is open to the mild air. When the temperature drops, the garden raises glass, maintaining a outdoorsy illusion. The corner venue is a composition in red brick, which gives it visual warmth to match the controlled climate. Prop yourself up with a huge stein of Weissbier and a pretzel or sausage, and ease out of the day. Patrons are a blend of locals and Highline-loving tourists, and the staff members here genuinely want everybody to have a good time.

It’s a long way from October, but now is the perfect time to help New York City celebrate Biergartens and beer.

Photo via Radegast Hall and by Matt Hageman


Tags: Beer, Cocktails, Food, Spirits, Wine
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