Milwaukee Summer Beer Garden Guide
Between a strong German heritage and a history of brewing, it makes perfect sense that
the Milwaukee area embraces the beer garden (biergarten in German). They’re community gathering places where relaxing with a beer, your family and your four-legged friends is the only objective. So,
grab some sunscreen, a lawn game and your eight closest friends and head to one
of these 10 beer gardens this summer.
700 W. Lexington
Located in Glendale off I-43 and the Oak Leaf Trail, Bavarian Bierhaus features a Munich-inspired beerhall with a 15 bbl. brewery, outdoor patio and dog-friendly beer garden, as well as indoor event spaces for parties and groups. Plus, the menu is a crowd-pleaser. Bavarian Bierhaus is home for festivals such as Mayfest and Oktoberfest. Free brewery tours are offered every Friday at 4:30 p.m. Heffeweizen and Maibock are perfect for summer.
Biergarten at the Schwabenhof
N56 W14750 Silver Spring Road
Known for their Friday fish fry for decades, Schwabenhof in Menomonee Falls turns their outdoor space into a beer garden every summer. Along with a tree-covered lawn and patio, there is also a large pavilion that’s fully covered with open sides. It’s closed off enough to guard against bad weather, but open enough that you still feel like you’re outside. Beer options tend to be imported from Germany, like Hofbrau and Spaten. Bands often play inside the pavilion, and weekly team trivia is also being played this season.
Croatian Park Beer Garden
9100 S. 76th St.
This beer garden in Franklin takes a German tradition and makes it Croatian. There are seven beers on tap, including Karlovačko imported from Croatia and Croatian Park Ale, which is brewed for the beer garden by Leinenkugel. Mixed drinks, wine and a number of Croatian spirits served as shots are also available. Don’t expect to grab a bratwurst here; instead, they throw ćevapčići—a Croatian sausage, on the grill. This garden is only open on Thursdays, along with a couple Saturdays per summer, but will have live music any time they’re open.
Estabrook Park Beer Garden
4600 Estabrook Drive
Run by the folks from Old German Beer Hall, Estabrook Park Beer Garden is the self-proclaimed first public beer garden in the U.S. since Prohibition. That seems slightly dubious, but what’s not in question is the convivial atmosphere, thanks to live polka bands, lovely river views and large crowds. Hofbrau beer is served here in massive liter and half-liter glass mugs that require a $5 deposit. Besides bratwurst and giant pretzels with obatzter, grab a Friday fish fry or Saturday schnitzel fry.
Hubbard Park Beer Garden
3565 N. Morris Blvd.
Hubbard Park Beer Garden is especially popular with bicyclists since it sits just off the Oak Leaf Trail. You’ll see many bikes locked to the bike racks on any given night as the bikers stop for a drink. If you drive there, follow the Hobbit-like footpath tunnel from the parking lot to Hubbard Park Lodge. In addition to 10 taps, they also serve loaded bloody marys on weekends, Jägermeister, brats and pretzels. On Fridays, grab a fish fry from inside the lodge and eat it at the picnic tables under the trees.
Humboldt Park Beer Garden
3000 S. Howell Ave.
Operated by St. Francis Brewery, the Craft Beer Garden features only Wisconsin craft beer, rotated on a weekly basis with Friday Tap Takeovers by a different brewery each week. Saturday features a limited release of a unique style of beer from different Wisconsin breweries such as St. Francis Brewery and Restaurant as well as Lakefront, MKE Brewing, Karben 4 and other local favorites. The Beer Garden is open seven days a week from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. and maintains plenty of space outdoors along with an indoor seating facility. Both areas can be reserved by guests to fit any special occasion. Food is available and consists of appetizing choices such as pizzas, hot dogs, burgers and beer cheese soup. Children and dog-friendly, this beer garden is a beautiful way to spend an afternoon or evening with the whole family.
The Landing at Hoyt Park
1800 N. Swan Blvd.
Adjacent to a community swimming pool, a slightly nautical, beachy theme carries over to The Landing. Lots of canopies and umbrellas provide shade in the summer, which is great for all the kids who join their parents after a day in the pool. The beer list skews local, with a few farther-flung options like Surly and Spaten. The usual giant pretzel is available for snacking, but you can also get 14-inch pizzas from Cranky Al’s. Most nights have live music, and some weekend nights have special food vendors.
South Shore Terrace
2900 S. Shore Drive
No other permanent beer garden has a view like this one; it’s right on the lake, with views of sailboats and Downtown Milwaukee fireworks. Two fire pits keep you warm on chilly nights, and a pergola provides a bit of shade when it’s hot. The bar, called Miller 1855, serves up Miller-owned taps like Leinenkugel, Blue Moon and Crispin cider. Bring your own glass or buy one there (this one doesn’t deal with glassware deposits). They serve a full menu of apps for sharing and sandwiches. Fried cheese curds and cheese boards go particularly well with beer.
Traveling Beer Garden
In addition to the permanent Milwaukee County Parks beer gardens on this list, they also operate traveling beer gardens throughout the summer. Two Sprecher Brewery tap trucks roam the County Parks. One makes stops about three weeks long, while the other hops from park to park about every week and a half. Both trucks have about a dozen taps, including some of Sprecher’s hard sodas and root beer. When you buy your first pint, you keep the glass, with discounted refills available at any of the park stops. Flights of five taps are available for those that can’t decide or are unfamiliar with Sprecher’s brews. The Wicked Urban Food Truck is setting up shop at each stop along the way and serving chicken and pork sliders, meatball subs, pastry-wrapped sausages and more. Check the County Parks website (click “2017 Tour Schedule”) for a guide or look for signs in your local park.
Whitnall Park Beer Garden
8831 N. Root River Parkway
Always a popular stop for the traveling beer gardens, Whitnall Park has its own permanent beer garden for the first time this year. It features a Sprecher Brewing truck with a dozen taps of beer and hard sodas, plus a second tap truck with another dozen beer options. Customers can bring their own glassware and pay the refill price or purchase glassware on site. The food menu includes pretzels, nachos, burgers, sausages and Palermo’s pizza. On some Sundays, about once a month, you can get your fill of barbecue pork when they host a pig roast.