Lifestyle & Seasonal

Break out your own backyard beer garden

It was once thought to be a solely European thing to dine al fresco, but more and more American cities are picking up on the pleasures of wiling away a relaxing meal out in the fresh air. The latest trend is pop-up beer gardens. Pioneering chefs or establishments take over a side lot for a short amount of time and turn it into a German-inspired beer garden, a place with long simple tables and benches, string lights, grilled foods and steins of beer from all over the world.

Turn your backyard into a pop-up beer garden with a few easy touches.

Private space. Grass or gravel is perfectly fine for a backyard beer fest. If you’re in the patio design stage and you want to get that old-world outdoor dining feel, find pavers that complete the look.

Long, thin tables and benches. It’s better to have one long feast table instead of a few scattered smaller ones. Grab a few “beer garden” tables and line them up in one long row. Benches are also important, because they foster more closeness and encourage your guests  to mingle. It’s an individual action to sit in a chair. It’s a group effort to take a seat on a table bench.

Festive decor. Chinese paper lanterns in various colors hanging from the trees or a clothesline help create the look. “Beer garden” doesn’t only mean Oktoberfest. It’s a space for a happy-yet- relaxing gathering outdoors with friends. Keep it simple, though. A few festive decorations or none is better than a crepe-paper explosion.

Lights. String lights are every beer gardener’s best friend. Poke holes in ping pong balls and slide them over white led lights. A criss-cross pattern of the light strings over your patio looks authentic and it provides a canopy that defines the space


Steins. Not many of us have a collection of beer steins to bust out for a spring brew bash. That’s ok. Red cups are classic and they’ll do. Match the table cloths (gingham preferred) to the tableware and you’re all set. If you want to step it up, party supply stores have plastic beer mugs. You can always have a BYOS -bring your own stein- get together, too.

Beers. As a matter of fact, the alcohol isn’t technically necessary. Beer gardens are simply fun hangouts where people can mix and mingle and sit at a big long table together to dine. You can concentrate on a few regions when sampling beers but this can easily be done with wines or even ginger ales or sparkling waters. The key is to concentrate on the drinks. In a beer garden, the experience is about tasting new drinks, not being dazzled by the food.

Food. Keep it simple. Gather basic barbecue/grilled standards. You can match the food to the particular drink or region your party is featuring, but it isn’t necessary. This time, the food should be carb-heavy favorites that fill stomachs. It shouldn’t steal the spotlight.

Set up your own private beer garden before the winter breaks and you’ll be ready come spring’s first thaw.

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