Thursday, May 11, 2017

So Many Beer Gardens

Beer. Soda. Food. Good friends. Music. In a park. What is there not to like about that?  Our beer gardens numbered just one a few years ago, and today there are five permanent beer gardens in county parks, a few more in city parks, as well as two traveling Sprecher rehabbed firetruck beer wagons.

It's obvious that people like them, and they bring much needed revenue to the parks. With the profits from sales, a percentage goes back into the parks for building and bathroom updates, as well as general park maintenance. It's definitely been a win-win situation here in Milwaukee County.

So what's new this year? Whitnall Park has a more permanent situation. I visited there prior to opening to check out the setting. With new picnic tables, volleyball court, updated restrooms and a great playground, this is destined to be a popular place. Combine it with a hike through the woods, or visit nearby Boerner Botanical Garden or Wehr Nature Center.

Southshore Park expanded their seating into the building, so rain and cold are no problem.  This is a beautiful setting, both indoors and out.  I especially love the painted murals. And the view of Milwaukee from here?  Stunning! This park has a kiddie play area with a nautical theme and sand pit, little free library, and one of the very best Saturday farmers markets in the region.  Don't miss out on visiting when summer gardens begin to produce. My advice? Go hungry. You'll find food at the beer garden and at the farmers market.

Estabrook Park's beer garden has expanded the menu.  You'll find a cooler of cheese and sausage out front. This park has had more benches added along the river trail, as well as some general maintenance which cleared brush, added stepping stones on the muddy pathways, and upgraded stairways.  You might consider taking a walk along the river before or after meeting friends over a pint. With plenty of resting spots, you can bring binoculars and look for some of the birds which frequent the park.

Humboldt Park's Craft Beer Garden is getting a new roof, so hours will be limited until construction is finished, but then expect it to be better than ever.  Play games in the courtyard, fish in the lagoon, use the playground and splash pad with the smaller tikes. This is a beautiful park with mature trees. The beer garden will often host craft beers, so you might find a new label you enjoy.

Hoyt Park's beer garden has the river, a pool nearby, and live music. Their opening will be May 17. Here you can find craft and imported beers, as well as champagne. The pizzas are terrific, so it can be a dinner destination or after work meet-up spot.

Croatian Park in Franklin opens its taps at the end of May. This beer garden will be open on Thursdays and some Saturdays, so check the Facebook page for more information. I have not visited here yet, but look forward to it.

Though not really a park beer garden, it's a beer place in a park setting. The Bavarian Bierhaus has signs on the Oak Leaf Trail near Lincoln Park.  Seating is indoors.  They host a variety of special events.  If you're thirsty on the trail, stop by.

Lastly, there's a beer garden in Shorewood at Hubbard Park.  This is a shady spot on the river with historic Hubbard Park Lodge serving good food. Be sure to try the Friday fish fry or Sunday family style brunch. This park is accessible from the Oak Leaf trail and has lots of bike parking. They even have loaner locks to keep your bike safe while you visit.

Here's the Traveling Beer Garden schedule:

May 17 – June 11
Greenfield Park, West Allis
June 14 – July 9
Grant Park, South Milwaukee
July 12 -  Aug. 6
Scout Lake Park, Greendale
Aug. 9 – Sept. 4
Doctors Park, Fox point

May 17–29
Juneau Park, Milwaukee
May 31–June 11
Kletzsch Park, Glendale
June 14–25
Froemming Park, Franklin
June 28–July 9
McCarty Park, West Allis
July 12–23
Zablocki Park, Greenfield
July 26–Aug. 6
Lake Park, Milwaukee
Aug. 4-6
Brown Deer Golf Course (pop-up at PHC Classic tournament)
Aug. 9–20
Greene Park, St.Francis
Aug. 23–Sept. 4
Bender Park, Oak Creek

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