World's Top Beer Gardens
Courtesy of Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden
Germany may have started the trend, but travelers can now find great beer gardens in
destinations like Melbourne and Beijing.
You’re parked on a wooden bench surrounded by friends, under a wide umbrella that provides
shade from the autumn afternoon sun. On the table are steins of Hefeweizen and a heaping plate of
pork sausage to share. The crowd breaks into spontaneous chants: Ziggy Zoggy Ziggy Zoggy OI OI OI!
Glasses clink and a waitress appears, carrying a heavy tray brimming with the next round.
And you’re in…Queens.
This festive spot, the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden, is just one example of why you
don’t need to travel to Europe for a classic outdoor drinking experience. Beer gardens have
taken root everywhere from Melbourne to Beijing, providing comfortable spaces for
communal gatherings and the raising of glasses. Even Manhattan’s painfully chic Standard Hotel opened its
version of a beer garden in July, adding a Teutonic touch to the Meatpacking District.
Meanwhile, the tradition is going strong where it began. Beer gardens as we know them developed
in Germany in the 18th century, when in order to keep fermenting beer cold during the
summer months, breweries dug underground cellars behind their facilities. They covered the beer
caves with gravel and chestnut trees, providing shade for outdoor drinkers. From Berlin to Munich and beyond, these hopping
spots are filled to capacity with revelers during Oktoberfest season.
While the oldest beer gardens are shaded by hundred-year-old trees (no umbrellas allowed) and
patrons sit on long wooden benches (no plastic chairs), the more modern iterations have looser
rules. Some common assets do exist, though.
Jen Murphy, Travel Editor of Food & Wine, sister publication of Travel +
Leisure, says a great beer garden “has plenty of shade. The staff should be
knowledgeable and should be well-versed in the beer list and what foods pair best. The food
shouldn’t be fussy but it should be delicious: sausages, moules and frites, sliders,
charcuterie, a great selection of cheeses … Beer is a beautiful accompaniment to food and
beer gardens should emphasize that.”
Using similar criteria, we rated the world’s greatest beer gardens with three
- Scene. From an edgy crowd in Amsterdam to a wholesome family
ambience in Berlin, beer gardens cater to as many types of people as there are pork dishes in
- Sustenance. Whether in the form of sausages, spaetzle, or a smorgasbord,
hearty food is a must when the alcohol is flowing.
- Suds. From house-brewed varieties in Munich’s Hofbräuhaus to
pitchers of Saigon at Luong Son in Vietnam, beer
binds it all together.