Raise a huge glass of beer and toast fall with a Backyard Beer Garden! Oktoberfest starts on September 20th and runs until October 5th in 2014. For most of the US, the weather is still nice enough to be outside with a very very large beer. Check out our tips for setting up a Beer Garden in your own backyard.

What is a Beer Garden?

A beer garden is exactly what it sounds like: a typically outdoor venue where you drink copious amounts of beer. Born in Europe, these venues have evolved from the traditional image associated with beer gardens.

Today, beer gardens popping up in the US look less like this:

Photo Credit: iStock

And more like this:


Photo Credit: Blue Ribbon Beer Garden/Steve Hill

Lederhosen are definitely optional (but not frowned upon, if you're into that sort of thing). You can capture the vibe of the modern beer garden, or go traditional. Either way, there are some guidelines you’ll want to follow to make your own backyard beer garden authentic. 

Backyard Beer Garden Seating & Décor

“Don’t sprawl. Communal seating is part of the experience” says Andrea Berkman of WifeRedefined.com.  Rent long tables or picnic tables to replicate the seating-of-choice for beer gardens. The whole idea is to come together as one large group to celebrate. Spilling over to the table next to you is all part of the fun. You can trade picnic tables for any kind of cozy, community seating.

Photo Credit: Blue Ribbon Beer Garden/Steve Hill

Modern beer gardens love to offer games to encourage interaction. Ciaran Tyrrell from Blue Ribbon Beer Garden in New York City recommends ping pong (also a GigMasters favorite) and Jenga to get people together.


Photo Credit: Blue Ribbon Beer Garden/Steve Hill

What to Serve: Beer and More Beer 

You can be very strict about what you serve and follow the rules like they do in Munich. They stick to the  Reinheitsgebot, or German Beer Purity Law.

“Only specific beers qualify to be served at Munich’s Oktoberfest. They must be a minimum of about 6% alcohol, and brewed within the city limits of Munich,” according to a source at BeerMenus.com. They recommend serving these beers for an authentic 'fest

Hofbrau Oktoberfest (created just for Munich’s Ocktoberfest)
Lowenbrau
Spaten Oktoberfest
Augustiner Brau German Beer



Photo Credit: iStock

However, rules are meant to be broken (and chances are your party is nowhere near Munich). Beer Sommelier David “Rev” Ciancio of Idle Hands Bar in New York City gave us some recommendations for American-brewed options.


Atom Smasher from Two Brothers Brewery in Warrenville, IL
Bell’s Octoberfest from Bell’s Brewery in Galesburg, MI
Heavy Seas Cutlass Amber Lager from Heavy Seas Beer in Halethorpe, MD
Sly Fox Oktoberfest from Sly Fox brewery in Pottstown, PA

When in doubt, consider something like Sam Adams Oktoberfest that has mass appeal, or consult a bartender for expert advice and local brews. 

 

Oktoberfest Food & Snacks

Traditional Oktoberfest fare is heavily German. Big soft pretzels, schnitzel (pork or veal, pounded thin then breaded and fried), and of course, bratwurst. The folks at Sam Adams provided us with an amazing boiled bratwurst recipe.

Photo Credit: Sam Adams

 

Samuel Adams OctoberFest Boiled Brats
Recipe by Chef David Burke
Serves 8 

Ingredients:
8 fresh bratwurst
8 large white or yellow onion, coarsely chopped
24 ounces (3 cups) Samuel Adams OctoberFest 
8 hotdog or torpedo rolls, lightly toasted

Accompaniments:
Ketchup, optional
Mustard, optional
Onion relish, optional
Pickle relish, optional

Method: 
In a large saucepan, combine the beer and onions. Add the bratwurst and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. 
Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the brats are heated through. Adjust the heat to maintain the simmer. 
Using a slotted spoon or tongs, lift the brats from the poaching liquid and nestle in the rolls. Top with any of the accompanying condiments and serve.

But again, you don’t need to be a slave to tradition. The folks at the Blue Ribbon Beer Garden in NYC serve BBQ during their festivities. 

Photo Credit: Blue Ribbon Beer Garden/Steve Hill

Anything you can do in large, family-style servings is in the true spirit of Oktoberfest. The point is not just to drink a ton of beer, but to join together with friends new and old. Have a great tip for a backyard beer garden? Want to share your setup? Let us know in the comments or tag us in your next Instagram! 

Get more ideas on our Pinterest Board and host your own amazing Backyard Beer Garden

Photo Credit: ClickyPix.com