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, but 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.
1840 Presents: The Traveling Beer Garden Show
This Bay View brewery is hosting a series of popup beer gardens with live music and food all season long. The garden will be at Mequon's River Barn Park Sept. 24 and at Ellsworth Park in Bayside Sept. 25. Watch this space or check Facebook for location updates.
105 S. Main St., Thiensville, (262) 236-9463
The beer garden at The Cheel – which is currently being rebuilt after a devastating fire – has 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.
The Beer Garden at the War Memorial Center
750 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr., (414) 257-9999
A portion of the parking lot north of the War Memorial Center and some newly upgraded adjacent green space will host the garden, which will have eight tap lines running Hofbrau beers and local brewery seasonals. There will be authentic Hofbrau biergarten tables from Germany and a menu of German specialties from Kegel’s. Running through Oct. 3, the garden will be open Wednesdays-Fridays, 4-8 p.m., and Saturdays-Sundays, noon-8 p.m. A second annual Oktoberfest on the Lakefront is slated for Sept. 24-26 and complete details can be found at Kegelsinn.com/oktoberfest. A portion of the proceeds from every sale goes to the War Memorial, which also benefits from on-site parking revenue.
Various locations, Pewaukee
This converted RV hits the road, making stops in and around Pewaukee and the Lake Country on Fridays and Saturdays, 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., through 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 and Buffalo Trace cocktails, as well as delicious Croatian snacks and sausages. There's live music and games, too, at the Franklin Beer Garden, which runs Thursdays through the end of September. There will also be food trucks like Milk Can, Café Corazon, Rose Mob, Mr. Green’s BBQ and others. Happy hour, 5-6 p.m., offers $2 taps all season long. Cash only.
Franksville Craft Beer Garden
Caledonia-Mount Pleasant Memorial Park, 9416 Northwestern Ave., Franksville
The Franksville beer garden offers 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.
Gathering Place / Bay View
2160 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 635-0569
Riverwest's Gathering Place Brewing is opening a Bay View outpost in the new Flour & Feed food hall, but until that's ready, it hosts a popup beer garden on its future patio facing Zillman Park on weekends. It serves its own beer, of course, but also that of other neighborhood brewers. Carry-in food is allowed and food trucks will stop by, too. Fridays, 5-9 p.m. and Saturdays, 2-9 p.m. More information at the link above.
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 offers beer, wine, soft drinks and food, plus live music on Thursdays.
The Landing at Hoyt Park
1800 N. Swan Blvd., Wauwatosa, (414) 302-9160
The Landing is adjacent to the popular Hoyt Park Pool, and offers 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 on Wednesdays starting, and local food trucks, including Wilma's BBQ, Heirloom MKE and Hue Asian Kitchen.”
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, 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.
Old Heidelberg Park / Bavarian Biergarten
700 W. Lexington Blvd., Glendale, (414) 236-7000
Milwaukee's longest-running beer garden, Old Heidelberg – scene of the annual Oktoberfest – has been renovated and has more than 300 picnic tables, including some covered. Open through Labor Day, Thursday-Friday, 4-10 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Live music most days, fish fry on Friday and rotisserie chicken on Saturday. Half off liters of beer Saturday and Sunday, 11-2.
Pabst Mansion Beer Garden
2000 W. Wisconsin Ave., (414) 931-0808
The Pabst Mansion has launched a beer garden on its grounds! The beer garden is open to the public, as well as to visitors to the mansion, which is open for tours. Open Thursdays-Mondays, noon-6 p.m., it serves landmark Milwaukee beers like Pabst, Blatz, Schlitz and Miller, alongside local craft beers and some locally made snacks. All proceeds will help fund care and preservation of the mansion.
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. 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.
South Milwaukee European Beer Gardens
1022 Madison Ave., South Milwaukee
The European Beer Gardens is up and running for the second year at South Milwaukee's public space, which also houses the downtown market. The beer garden is open Thursdays-Saturdays, 4-9 p.m., through Oct. 9, and will eight taps, including War Pigs Foggy Geezer hazy IPA and Four Phantoms blonde ale; Revolution's Freedom of Speech sour; Moran's Pub Lager and Soft Parade Shandy from Shorts Brewing; Capital Amber; Indeed's Pistachio Cream Ale; and Maplewood's Fat Pug oatmeal stout. Rose Mob Grill food truck will be on site and numerous restaurants are in walking distance. There will be live music on site, too. A portion of sales of one of the tap lines will benefit local charities and co-founder James Moran hopes a second successful year will lead the city to make the beer garden permanent.
South Shore Terrace
2900 S. Shore Dr., (414) 617-1147
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.
Season ends Oct. 31. Post-Labor Day hours: Friday, 4-8 p.m., until Sept. 30; Saturday, noon-8; and Sunday, noon-6 p.m.
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 – has 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 – like its sibling in Waukesha, runs 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.
Third Space & Village of Elm Grove
Elm Grove Village Park, 13600 Juneau Blvd, Elm Grove, (414) 909-2337
Co-founded by Elm Grove native Andy Gehl, Third Space has partnered with the Waukesha County village on a beer garden through Oct. 23. Open Fridays, 4-9 p.m. and Saturdays, 3-9 p.m.
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 until 7 dishing up tasty food and Gathering Place has got the beer covered.
8831 N. Root River Pkwy., Greendale, (414) 514-9744
This dog-friendly beer garden on the far southwest side – in one of the area's most beautiful parks (you can stop at the Boerner Botanical Garden and Wehr Nature Center while you're there) – has great craft beer and often live music, too.
Season ends Oct. 3. Post-Labor Day hours are Friday, 4-8 p.m.; Saturday, noon-8; and Sunday, noon-6 p.m.
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.