Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Why Baltimore really needs a beer garden

“Beer, if drunk in moderation, softens the temper, cheers the spirit and promotes health.” (attributed to Thomas Jefferson)
Now that we have a good crop of local beers and are no longer dependent on re-imported Natty Boh and bars with a good craft beer selection are proliferating, it is really urgent that we return to the question of outdoor beer drinking, namely in a beer garden.
The real thing: Flaucher's beer garden in Munich (Photo: Philipsen)

A beer garden is not just a bunch of tables under an umbrella. It requires gravel, trees and long share tables, to name just a few important elements in no particular order. I will get back to those.

This isn't about importing German culture, mind you, rather to the contrary. On the beer selections,for example, we don't need to limit ourselves to the standard edition German selection of three or four types of beer (Lager, Pils, Weizen, sometimes a Dunkel). Some of our Baltimore brews can give those German ones a run for the money. (The only thing our brew bars still need to learn is to ditch those clunky English pint glasses in favor of a variety of glasses that adjust to the particular type of beer).

But ah, the garden. This isn't a German domain any more, beer gardens are proliferating in the US as well, just not in Baltimore. Remember, when we were proud to have our first Starbucks and then topped it with Charmingtons, a coffee shop which even the President visited? Well, we tend to be a bit slow on the uptake at times, but when we do it, we do it with a vengeance. So we should have the biggest and baddest beer garden of all! Maybe we could even out one into Druid Park, instead of that traffic garden? It helps to have a beer garden where its a bit green and not so hot. (It could provide revenue for the ailing parks department).

The gravel of a real beer garden helps to keep the place cool as well. It is environmentally friendly because it reduces run-off. And those long tables where you can't hog the whole place with your one partner but have to allow others to sit next to you, they were a beer garden staple all along. And now you find them from Dooby's to Parts and Labor. They help to get to know people!
Bohemian beer garden, Queens, NY

I get that we are a waterfront community and that our crab houses and seafood places like Nick's Fishhouse are our own authentic version of enjoying a beer outdoors. I think the one doesn't exclude the other and am still rooting for a Baltimore are beer garden.

Especially since Blob's Park is demolished.


Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

Links:

BBJ Monument Brewing story

Lowry beer garden, Stapleton, Denver CO (Photo: Philipsen)
Blob's Park, Jessup, MD (demolished)

historic Scholz beer garden, Austin TX
Each type of beer deserves the right glass