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As a city that experiences a long, often brutal winter, Milwaukee loves soaking up the sun and warmth in its many beer gardens as soon as the weather permits, especially because we can enjoy them with our pets and families, too.
In a COVID-19-rocked 2020, those beer gardens were lifelines – a way to be among people in a responsible, socially distanced way. So far, 2021 is looking a fair bit like last year and so we’ll likely need beer gardens just as much.
Here’s what we know about the 2021 beer garden season so far. Keep checking back for regular updates to this post as more information becomes available.
Note also that Milwaukee County Parks are seeking seasonal employees. Details are here.
105 S. Main St., Thiensville, (262) 236-9463
The owners of beer garden at The Cheel – which is currently being rebuilt after a devastating fire – expect to open on Friday, May 14 and will have music five nights a week and trivia on Thursday. But this is more than just a beer garden; there’s a great bourbon selection, craft cocktails and a full bar. Open 2-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 2-midnight on Friday and Saturday, and 2-8 on Sunday.
The Beer Garden at the Deer District
1133 N Old World 3rd St,, (414) 908-0401
The tap room offers 20 tap lines with craft and domestic brews, as well as packaged beers, seltzers, sodas, popcorn and snacks. You can also order food from the nearby The MECCA Sports Bar & Grill and Cream City Cluckery, as well as the MKEat food truck. And a few steps away is the Downtown location of Good City Brewing! Did I mention that the covered beer garden also has one of the biggest outdoor televisions – showing mostly sports, of course (it's just outside the Fiserv Forum) – we’ve ever seen. Open Fridays, 3-8 p.m., Saturdays, 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. and Sundays, 11-6. Hours may be impacted by late-start Bucks games. Bucks games will always be shown on the big screen. It also should have been called the Deer Garden.
Various locations, Pewaukee
This converted RV hits the road, making stops in and around Pewaukee and the Lake Country on Fridays and Saturdays, beginning on April 10 at Kiwanis Village Park, creating little beer gardens wherever it goes, often bringing a food truck along for the ride. It's at Lakefront Park, 5-9 p.m. on Thursdays, but you can see the full season schedule at the website.
Depot Beer Garden
Old Falls Village Park, N96W15791 County Line Rd., Menomonee Falls, (262) 250-3901
A rotating selection of craft beer is augmented by a menu of pizza, brats, burgers, hot dogs and snacks, as well as live music, special events and games for the kids. Saturdays, 3-9 p.m., from May 22 to Oct. 2.
4600 Estabrook Dr., (414) 219-9065
Estabrook Park Beer Garden is open daily at noon. This is one of the area’s premier beer gardens, with covered tables, heated chalets, local and German beer, food options and lots of parking. Watch the website or check back here for updates.
Franklin Beer Garden at Croatian Park
9100 S. 76th St., (414) 467-4958
Franklin Beer Garden offers Croatian brews and cordials, along with Miller/Coors taps, as well as delicious Croatian snacks and sausages. There's live music and games, too, at the Franklin Beer Garden, which opens May 20 and runs Thursdays through the end of September.
Franksville Craft Beer Garden
Caledonia-Mount Pleasant Memorial Park, 9416 Northwestern Ave., Franksville
Kicking off May 21, the Franksville beer garden will offer a rotating list of 16 Wisconsin craft brews, as well as cider and wine. There will also be yard and board games and music, plus there's a playground with a sandbox. Food trucks will be on hand and there will be live music, yoga classes, movie nights and other events. Open Thursdays, 5-9 p.m., Fridays, 3-9, Saturdays, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sundays, 11-7. There's also a club membership that includes a mug, drink chips, discounts, an email newsletter and exclusive tasting events. Details at the website.
3565 N. Morris Blvd., Shorewood, (414) 332-4207
Thanks to its warm bubbles, the Hubbard Park Beer Garden, located in a wooded area along the Milwaukee River, is open year-round. The lodge at the site is a great dinner option and food can be ordered there to enjoy out in the garden, too.
5901 W. National Ave., West Allis, (414) 257-9999
The Kegel's Inn beer garden is open Saturday, Tuesday-Thursday from 4 until 8 p.m., and Friday, 11-8. Live entertainment, one of the city's best Friday fish frys and more. The winter yurts are being moved to the parking lot for private parties.
Lake Country Beer Garden
Nixon Park, 175 E. Park Ave., Hartland, (262) 369-0079
Open 4-9 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays, and 2-7 Sundays, this west suburban beer garden kicks off its season on May 27, offering beer, wine, soft drinks and food, plus live music on Thursdays
Lakefront Beer Garden
War Memorial Center, 750 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr.
This beer garden, presented by the War Memorial Center in collaboration with Kegel's Inn, returns June 1. The garden – with one of the most stunning views of any area biergarten around. Kegel’s – which will serve brats, appetizers and pretzels, too – has refurbished a 1957 Gruman-Olsen Step van into a walk-in beer cooler with eight tap lines and a capacity of 25 barrels. Open Wednesday-Friday, 4-9 p.m., and Saturday-Sunday, noon-6 p.m. Dogs welcome. The second annual "Oktoberfest on the Lakefront," Sept. 24-26, on Fitch Plaza, will end the season.
The Landing at Hoyt Park
1800 N. Swan Blvd., Wauwatosa, (414) 302-9160
The Landing, adjacent to the popular Hoyt Park Pool will officially open on Wednesday, May 12, but has been known to soft open earlier, as weather permits. For 2021, the venue is implementing a new online point-of-sale ordering system. According to a message from The Landing, “We'll follow the guidelines in place for City of Wauwatosa, and update as the season progresses. Quizmaster live trivia will return on Wednesdays starting in June, and local food trucks will return, including Wilma's BBQ, Heirloom MKE and Hue Asian Kitchen. We'll update our website calendar with more information in April.”
Milwaukee County Parks Traveling Beer Gardens
Milwaukee County Parks also operates two traveling beer gardens – The Roll Out the Barrel Tour and The Pass Me a Pint Tour – that visit park sites with its pair of restored fire trucks throughout the county during the season, May through September. Here are the schedules and locations for 2021:
Pass Me a Pint Tour
- West Milwaukee Park: May 19-June 6
- Doctors Park: June 9-27
- Greenfield Park: June 30-July 18
- Froemming Park: July 21-Aug. 8
- Juneau Park: Aug. 11-Sept. 6
Roll Out the Barrel Tour
- Juneau Park: May 12-31
- Cooper Park: June 2-20
- Grant Park: June 23-July 5
- Lake Park: July 7-25
- McCarty Park: July 28-Aug. 22
New Berlin Beer Gardens
Malone Park, 3953 S. Casper Dr., New Berlin
Component Brewing is teaming with the City of New Berlin for four beer gardens to be held (mostly) at Malone Park, July 23-25, Aug. 20-22 and Sept. 17-19. The fourth, on Oct. 3, will be held at Historical Park in conjunction with the annual Applefest. In addition to beer, there will be food, music and games. A sorta fifth beer garden is Aug. 8's Lawn Game Olympics at Malone Park with just for fun lawn games as well as competitive corn hole, badminton, ladder golf, bottle bash and washers. Details on that event here.
Raised Grain & Waukesha County Parks Pop-Up Beer Garden Tour
Waukesha’s Raised Grain Brewery leads a series of pop-up beer gardens at parks throughout Waukesha County beginning Friday, May 21. Customers will find seven Raised Grain brews on tap, alongside the Waukesha brewery's Diamond Hard Seltzer. There will also be food trucks rotating throughout the season, including Matty’s Food Truck, Just Smokin’ BBQ, Benet's BBQ and Tramper’s Oak Fired Pizza. Schedule and more here.
The Schwabenhof Biergarten
N56W14750 Silver Spring Dr., Menomonee Falls, (262) 252-4100
A full-service bar and a variety of German beers are available at this weekly Thursday biergarten at one of the area's most-beloved German restaurants, 4-10 p.m., May 20-Sept. 2. Trivia some weeks and live music others. See the full schedule at the link above.
South Shore Terrace
2900 S. Shore Dr., (414)
This open-air garden offers great views of Lake Michigan and the Downtown skyline, as well as a good selection of beers and a full food menu. Masks required when interacting with staff and when ordering.
Tap Yard Waukesha
The Shoppes at Fox River, 1160 W. Sunset Dr., Waukesha
This new beer garden – one of two from the former owners of Greenfield's The Brass Tap – opens May 5 and will have 36 tap lines! There will be live music on Fridays and Saturdays, family fun Sundays and trivia on Thursdays. Food trucks include Mr. P's Grilled Cheese (Wednesdays), Scrima's Wood-Fired Pizza (Wednesdays-Fridays), Pig Tailz or Roll MKE (Fridays-Saturdays) and Los Inches Tacos.
The Tap @ The Yard at Bayshore
Bayshore Town Center, 5800 N. Bayshore Dr., Glendale
This new beer garden – one of two from the former owners of Greenfield's The Brass Tap – tentatively opens May 13 and will, like its sibling in Waukesha, have 36 tap lines. And just like the western location, there will be live music on Fridays and Saturdays, family fun Sundays and trivia on Thursdays. There will be food trucks on site, too, as well as the food options at the outdoor mall.
Vienna Avenue Biergarten
800 block of East Vienna, (414) 635-0569
Gathering Place Brewing is closing down its street from 2 until 8 p.m. once a month for this Riverwest beer garden, with seating in the parklet and scattered around the area. Bring your own lawn chairs, too, if you prefer. Heaven's Table will be on hand from 4-7 dishing up tasty food and Gathering Place has got the beer covered. April 24, May 22, June 19, July 17 (the date of the Riverwest Food Truck Rally) and Aug. 21, when Gathering Place will also host its anniversary party.
The Vine at Humboldt Park
3000 S. Howell Ave., (414) 257-7275
The Humboldt Park beer garden will open on May 21, with craft beer, wine, cider and non-alcoholic beverages, as well as food from Triciclo Peru. Bring your own glass and get special refill prices. There’s also a great playground nearby for the kids, and beverages purchased at The Vine can be carried throughout the park. Profits benefit park projects.
8831 N. Root River Pkwy., Greendale, (414) 514-9744
This dog-friendly beer garden on the far southwest side expected to open for the season on April 21, depending on weather. There’s great craft beer and often live music, too.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.