Along with the embarrassing riches that the SF bay area has of craft breweries, brew pubs and beer bars, there are a growing number of outdoor beer gardens. A staple in Germany and other beer-centric European countries, the beer garden in slowing becoming part of American craft beer culture as well.
In the gentrifying Hayes Valley area of San Francisco (just off Mission) a beer garden popped up a year or so ago. Called simply the “Biergarten” (but aligned clearly with the next door German restaraunt “Suppenküche”) you can find some fine German lagers and Germanic snacks to soak it up with.
A couple of nights ago – mid May, it was about 58 degrees with a stiff SF breeze – and sitting outside drinking a cold lager seemed – well, a bit challenging. But, the faithful were there – and I noticed that the place was giving out blankets to the patrons – as they sat out in the cool breeze wrapped up and sipping their Schneider Weisse or similar German brew. The beer was great (you could get an authentic liter sized “mass mug”). Warm pretzels helped as well. That said, I am not sure that I – even with my significant self provided insulation – could hang too long in the elements.
On the other hand, in Berkeley – on the East Bay, the Moxy Beer Garden was a bit warmer and welcoming. As opposed to the SF shipping container industrial look – Moxy’s was open but covered, and warmer – and 14 local brews on tap. Only open for three weeks – Moxy was already becoming a neighborhood favorite. Not going for the “authentic German” beer garden, it’s an outdoor neighborhood place – with plenty of space and room for beer appreciators to find some great local beers.
Sitting under the roof but wafted by California breezes, I tried the local “Line 51 Pale Ale” and eventually succumbed to the epic Drake’s Double IPA “Denogginizer”. Brandon, my server, turned out to be from Reading PA – and discussion of the Philly football Eagles soon commenced.
The left coast leads the way in beer culture, and certainly beer gardens are a great way to enjoy beer together outside with other beer appreciators. But, I’d prefer blanket free…That’s just me.