Top Beer Gardens in New York City

By Ewa Kern-JedrychowskaMathew Katz and Heather Holland  on July 25, 2012 7:26am  | Updated on July 25, 2012 10:28am

NEW YORK CITY — Enjoying glasses of your favorite brews and plates of food while enjoying the summer outdoors leaves little to complain about.

Beer gardens are increasingly popular in New York, with Queens' pioneering Czech beer gardens leading the way. But some of the other boroughs have begun to catch up with their own outdoor offerings.

DNAinfo.com New York has assembled a guide of some of the top beer gardens and beer halls in the city.

Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden, 29-19 24th Ave. (Astoria, Queens)

The oldest beer garden in New York is a combination of a park, a backyard, a pub and a restaurant. The Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden has been serving beer in Astoria for about 102 years, and was initially opened to support a Czech and Slovak school and cultural center located next door.

The venue is open seven days a week and holds a variety of ethnic events promoting Czech and Slovak culture, including traditional dances. It also has karaoke and open mic nights with local bands playing everything from classic rock to jazz and blues.

The spacious garden fits up to 650 people who are able to socialize in a laid-back atmosphere at communal tables. There is also an indoor bar and a hall that can fit about 300 people.

“We are not trying to be a cultural center,” said Lubos Spacek, Bohemian Hall’s general manager. “We want to be a place to enjoy yourself and sit on a bench with a stranger and easily make new friends.”

Bohemian Hall is also a family-friendly place. Children run around the garden and on Sunday afternoons the venue often holds events for kids and their parents, including one called “Daddy, take me to the beer garden.”

Customers can eat authentic Czech and Slovak food, like klobasa, halusky and palacinka.

The beer selection (14 draft beers every day and 15 bottled beers) includes lots of European brands, primarily from Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic, the most popular being Czech brew Staropramen.

A mug costs $6 and a pitcher is $16.

Radegast Hall & Biergarten, 113 N. 3rd St. (Williamsburg, Brooklyn)

When the weekend hits, the hipsters flock to this neighborhood favorite, a giant beer hall known for huge beers, hot sausages, and live music — from Jazz to indie rock to oompah bands.

The old-school decor and mural-covered walls on the interior makes the bar feel like it was flown in from Bavaria, but the popular Sunday brunch is definitely Williamsburg.

Radegast is known for its high-quality beer selections, with plenty of imports from Germany, Austria and Belgium ranging from $13 to $15 for a liter stein. A staff favorite is the much sought-after Palm Ale, a Belgian Amber with a crisp taste.

The popular bar is typically packed at all times of day, so the earlier you get there the better, though Thursdays are prime for anyone who wants a German experience without breaking the back — half-liter beers are on special, and every beer comes with a free bratwurst.

Gowanus Yacht Club, 323 Smith St. (Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn)

Do you like your hot dogs cheap and your beer in a disposable cup? The Gowanus Yacht Club is for you. This beer garden dive named after the nearby Gowanus Canal is the epitome of laid-back Brooklyn, complete with Pabst Blue Ribbon cans (two for $5), and vintage-looking sailboat decor that resembles the set of a an episode of "Gilligan's Island."

Craft beers will run you a little more, from $5 to $6, but you can easily spend an afternoon here without spending more than $20.

The bar also has a decent food selection, with a handful of different kinds of hot dogs ranging from $1 to $3.50, $4 hamburgers, and $3 nachos.

Studio Square, 35-33 36th St. (Long Island City, Queens)
 
At this huge space that opened in 2009 in Long Island City, customers can sip beers in a garden with communal tables. The venue tries to keep the spirit of a Bavarian beer garden but also has the local, industrial feel of Long Island City and boasts modern amenities, including individual powder rooms.

Some 2,500 people can fit in the garden alone, but Studio Square also has loft spaces for private events and an open air rooftop with a view of Manhattan. Altogether the complex is about 100,000 square feet.

Studio Square organizes a lot of special events, barbeques and concerts. A few weeks ago, The Roots played there, and soon there will be a Facebook 10K party, celebrating the 10,000 fans the venue has on Facebook.

Patrons can also participate in karaoke and stand in for the lead singer with a live band.

The space attracts customers from across the city. In its three years, Studio Square has had about 2 million customers, according to Pete Mason, chief marketing officer.

The venue offers more than 20 beers on tap and the selection consists mostly of American, German, Czech and Belgian Beers - including Blue Moon, Capitan Lawrence Kolsh, Radeberger, Sam Adams, Spaten and Staropramen. There is also a gluten free beer called Greens Discovery.

Half a liter costs $7, a liter runs $13, a pitcher is $18.

The venue also offers food from the grill, both German and American style.

Nicky's Beer Garden, 3392 E. Tremont Ave. (Schuylerville, Bronx)

The Bronx's first beer garden is also a full-on Southern barbecue mecca, with finger-licking St. Louis style smoked ribs, a cheddar cheese-stuffed burger, chicken fried steak, and a butter-covered Texas T-Bone all on the menu for $9 to $28 each.

The beer selection is equally American, with a smattering of craft brews like Blue Point Toaster Lager and Abita Purple Haze ranging from $5 to $7.

Where Nicky's really shines is in its fraternity-inspired events, including a weekly beer pong tournament on Thursdays which offers competitors a cash prize. For the more adventurous, the bar is hosting a night of cheap drinks, a live DJ, and a performance by a professional ice sculptor on July 28.

The garden also has an outdoor projector screen, which often airs anything from Yankees games to European football.

Habana Outpost, 757 Fulton St. (Fort Greene, Brooklyn)

There are German beer gardens, with their giant steins and weinerschnitzel, and then there's Habana Outpost, an offshoot of Cafe Habana in SoHo and the closest thing the city has to a Cuban beer garden.

Complete with plastic furniture and a packed events calendar, this brightly-colored, summer-only spot in Fort Greene has long played a role as a sort of informal community center, where kids gather with parents to watch movies on Sundays, and upwardly mobile twentysomethings sip margaritas on weekday nights.

The garden also has a full menu of barbecue basics and cuban dishes, including cubano sandwiches, but the real specialty — served from a shack — is the Mexican-style grilled corn, which goes for $2.75.

A variety of craft beers on tap go for $2.75 a cup, but most people on the patio tend to steer towards the bar's signature frozen margaritas and mojitos, not to mention the spiked lemonade, which range in price from $7 to $8.

Alewife, 5-14 51st Ave. (Long Island City, Queens)
 
Located in Hunters Point, Alewife is not a typical beer garden, but rather a vast beer hall with a back patio for outdoor drinking.

About 250 people can fit inside, plus another 50 on the patio.

The venue claims it’s leading the way for craft beer in LIC, and to prove it, it offers 28 craft beer lines, from American to Belgian.

“We are very picky about our beers,” says Patrick Donagher, Alewife’s CEO.

Alewife sells beers from breweries like Captain Lawrence, Stillwater and Evil Twin Brewing. It also has cask ale and sells suds from little known places like Barrier Brewing in Oceanside, LI.

Donagher says he soon wants to brew his own beer at the Alewife. This fall, the venue will offer an educational program teaching people how to brew beer, how to savor its different tastes, differentiate various styles, and how to pair it with food.

Most beers sell for $5-7 a glass ($5 during happy hour everyday from 4 to 8 p.m.).

Zum Schneider, 107 Ave. C (Alphabet City, Manhattan)

Perhaps the most authentic German beer garden in Manhattan, Zum Schneider is a favorite for football fans hoping to catch the European matches.

Zum Schneider offers smaller beers, but it's best known for massive German steins, a one-liter behemoth of booze.

The bar has an incredible selection of German brews on tap, with particular attention paid to beers from Munich's famous Hofbräuhaus. Each stein ranges from $10 to $16.

For hotter days, Zum Schneider also serves Radlers, a surprisingly delicious and refreshing mix of wheat beer and lemon soda.

The Bavarian-style beer garden means huge platters of fried meats, cheeses and pretzels, and daily specials. If you're feeling particularly adventurous, the Riesen Schlachtplatte, a $110-dollar platter with every kind of sausage the beer garden sells, along with pork chops, pork belly and plenty of sauerkraut.

Be sure to bring enough cash to pay for your bill — those giant beers add up and Zum Schneider is cash only.

Max Bratwurst und Bier, 47-02 30th Ave. (Astoria, Queens)

Max Bratwurst, which opened in May this year, does not have an actual garden, but its floor-to-ceiling windows open wide, allowing customers to get a breath of fresh air.

The relatively small venue offers something that the owners say has been missing in Astoria — authentic German food and lots of German beers.

“This summer we will have many specials and promotions, including Bavarian Day and Cologne Day with promotions of particular beers and food,” said Fjori Ndreu, one of the owners.

The menu is all German: from schnitzels with bratkartoffels and sauerkraut, to German burgers on a pretzel bun,  to German-style chicken wings.

Among the variety of tap and bottle German beers are Spaten Oktoberfest, Gaffel Koelsch, Radeberger Pilsener, HB Dunkel, Erdinger Hefeweizen and Schneider Weisse.

Most sell for between $4 and $8 a glass.

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