Suburban Shorewood may not normally be a mecca for Milwaukee nightlife, but this village now has something that no neighboring suburb does — its very own beer garden. Brought to you by Hans Weissgerber III of downtown’s Old German Beer Hall, the Estabrook Park beer garden is a welcome oasis from the city streets, where one can be transported into a time and place far from the Midwest.
Winding your way back through the trees, you’ll pass sporting fields, playgrounds and a dog park, wondering all the while how — and where — a beer garden could be settled amidst the greenery. And then you’ll see it: the blue and white color combination is unmistakable to purveyors of German culture, particularly fans of Munich’s soccer team.
A wooden arched sign braced by two poles wrapped in blue and white stripes that reads Biergarten (German for “beer garden”) marks the entrance to the gravel filled location. Rows and rows of wooden benches underneath maple trees strung with small white lights line the plot of land designated for the beer garden’s patrons.
It’s the type of space that breeds community, encouraging beer drinkers to sit close and get to know their neighbors. After all, they are all there for one reason and one reason only: to drink good German beer. The beer garden offers three Hofbräu brews — the Lager, Dunkel and Hefe Weizen — as well as Miller Lite ($4) and a Riesling ($5). In an effort to be as green as its surroundings, the beer garden staff serves the beer in half-liter or liter glass steins. There is a $5 refundable deposit on the glasses, but you can opt to bring your own, as is customary in Germany.
If you get lucky, you might even find people who have brought their own snacks or a full-scale picnic feast, and are willing to share. But the beer garden also offers brats, hot dogs and pretzels — fare one would expect given the origin of the establishment.
Call it nature or nurture, but Estabrook Park beer garden fosters a delightfully no-frills atmosphere for folks of all ages. It’s easy to bike, bus or drive to, and they’ll take you however you’re clad — whether it’s business attire or beachwear.
All you need to be is thirsty.
The Estabrook Park beer garden is open every day from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. until the end of September, where it will then switch to just weekends until November 24. Cash only, for the time being.