A century ago, Milwaukee was full of biergartens. It’s no wonder; the city was home to thousands of German immigrants who brought the tradition with them from the Old World. The concept was simple: Find a pleasant, public space where everyone can spend the day relaxing, playing games, listening to music, gabbing, eating and drinking beer. Sadly, the biergartens largely disappeared in the early 20th century and were wiped out completely during Prohibition. Estabrook Beer Garden is bringing the idea back to life.
This is a wonderful spot to while away a few hours, whether you’re alone, with friends or even have kids in tow. The compact space sits on a scenic overlook above the Milwaukee River as it winds through Estabrook Park. A small building in the center serves up half-liters and liters of draft beer (several of the varieties are straight from Germany) as well as wine, soda and water. A handful of food items are also available, namely pretzels, brats, hot dogs and cold German sausages. Guests are welcome to bring in food and drink to enjoy al fresco at one of the numerous picnic tables in tidy rows around the building. Signs note that tables are to be shared, and meeting and greeting is all part of the fun.
There’s often catchy live music (think accordions and drums). Prices for beer and food are moderate (about $3 to $12), and the place is cash-only with an ATM on-site. If you need a little exercise to work off the suds and sausage, hop on one of the many hiking trails that lace through Estabrook Park. The path leading down to the river from the side of the beer garden is very pretty.