The Rise of the Beer Garden

If you have paid any attention at all, you have undoubtedly noticed the rapid growth and spread of beer gardens here in the States. These were once restricted to Germany and other parts of Europe, but that is no longer the case. Quite a few cities in the US now have beer gardens for brew lovers and there are more on the way. What’s behind the growth of these establishments? Just how many are there now?

While you really can’t pin down the specific number of these types of venues across the nation, you can get a good idea of what’s going on by looking at New York City. Currently, the Big Apple plays home to 54 beer gardens and there are probably more out there that aren’t as well known. That number also does not include any that have been announced and scheduled for completion but have yet to go live. 

These types of beer sanctuaries also come in a bewildering array of types and sizes. You’ll find classic the classic version where you can enjoy your brew outdoors while listening to traditional German music. You’ll also find those that are dedicated to the “hip” crowd and those that are frequented by big-time corporate moguls and the like. Temporary beer gardens are also out there – these run only during certain months of the year in high-traffic tourist areas of the city.

However, don’t let the numbers fool you. Not all establishments claiming to be “gardens” really fit the bill. In fact, quite a few don’t have any foliage at all. The original German establishment was one in which the drinkers could laugh and sing, eat and drink, all surrounded by the beauty of nature. Hence the name’s origin; a significant number of New York City’s establishments lack any kind of foliage at all. 

Some owners are turning this to their advantage though. Quite a few are going the route of adding traditional Alpine fare to their list of offerings, but others are supplying their patrons with all-natural beer aged in real firkins and carbonated naturally. 

In short, New York City has undergone a rapid transformation and there are now more beer gardens than you can shake a stick at. The rest of the nation seems to be faring the same, though few have achieved the level of market saturation that the Big Apple has enjoyed for the last few years.

Posted on August 1, 2012 and filed under The Business of Beer, 2012.