OK, so you are a beer lover and want to visit some of New York City’s best beer halls: or would you rather visit a beer garden? What, really is the difference? Beer halls are large indoor venues that specialize in serving beer and often have open, communal seating at long, benched tables. Beer gardens are fenced-in outdoor spaces where of-age patrons can enjoy their brews with a side of fresh air.
Both types of establishments originated in Munich, Germany, but they certainly have found homes in NYC. In fact, one of the first beer gardens in the United States was (supposedly) Castle Clinton, which opened in 1824 and in Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan. NYC beer gardens are a great way to spend a warm (or warm-ish) afternoon and evening, with lots to drink and eat. And beer halls are equally jovial, as liters upon liters of beer are enjoyed each day all around town.
From traditional German-themed entities to places that are a bit more American, NYC has a beer hall or garden for you to visit. Grab a stein and get drinking!
Bierhaus NYC: Authentic German cuisine (pretzels, a variety of wursts and schnitzels, potato salad and more) and Hofbräu beers (Premium Lager, Hefe Weizen, Dunkel and Dunkel Weizen) imported from Munich make this beer hall a year-round Oktoberfest. Seasonal brews have limited availability depending on when you visit, but flavorful lagers and wheat beers are always on tap and ready for imbibing.
Reichenbach Hall: This giant hall that seats 200 guests has 14 German beers, including Benediktiner Weissbier, Hofbräu Sommerbier, Spaten Optimator Doppelbock and Veltins Pilsner on tap and a full bar. The menu includes homemade spätzle (dumplings from the Schwaben region of Germany) and traditional dishes such as Frikadellen (German meatballs) and Schweinshaxen (oven-roasted pork shank).
Upper West Side
Bernheim and Schwartz: Founded in 1903, this was one of 30 Manhattan breweries that existed before Prohibition. All ales and lagers, such as Golden Lager, Pumpkin Ale, Maarzen and Orange Blossom Light, are brewed at Bernheim and Schwartz's brewery in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Wine and cocktails are available, as is a generous menu featuring burgers, fish tacos, salads and sandwiches.
Bier International: Harlem's first beer hall has over a dozen beers on tap from Germany (Erdinger Urweisse), Belgium (Delirium Tremens), France (Jenlain Ambrée) and the U.S. (Six Point Sweet Action), among other countries. Bottled brews and a solid wine selection complement traditional German fare in addition to burgers, tacos and salads. Locally-produced wursts and sausages from Germany, Morocco and France round out the menu.
Flatiron Hall: The 12 house beers always on tap (including Halls Pale Ale, Harvest Witbier, Oatmeal Stout and McKenzie's Original Cider) are brewed in Greenpoint. Sliders, burgers, salads, sandwiches and steak frites are just some of the savory items on the menu. Located in the heart of the Flatiron District, Flatiron Hall has a 25-foot bar from the Commodore Hotel circa 1870, complete with antique leaded glass arches.
Loreley: This German restaurant is modeled after the Brauhaus in Cologne. A dozen draught beers are on tap including Loreley's specialty, Gaffel Kölsch—a light, top fermented ale with a fresh taste. Bottled beer, specialty cocktails, wine and spirits are also available. The menu features traditional dishes like bratwurst with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes, as well as cheese spätzle (with or without bacon) served with mixed salad.
Clinton Hall: Built as a nod to Castle Clinton, this beer hall has a revolving menu of 20 draught beers and ciders on tap, such as Cigar City Jai Alai and Mystic Saison Renaud, that go well with its 20 craft burger options. Other menu items include buffalo cauliflower, cheddar cheese/jalapeño waffle fries and Walter White's Crystal Methadonuts (homemade donuts with blue sky sugar with injectable nutella, salted caramel and raspberry sauces).
Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden: One of NYC's largest outdoor drinking venues, and the oldest beer garden in New York, this beer hall and garden offers two fully stocked bars serve beer by the mug or pitcher. Beer selection ranges from Blue Moon and Stella Artois to Hofbräu Summer Ale and Schofferhofer (a grapefruit beer from Germany). Grilled burgers, chicken, portobello mushrooms and bratwursts round out a menu that highlights traditional Czech dishes like beef goulash and roast pork with sauerkraut and Czech-style dumplings
Berg'n: A lone draft beer from Germany (Reissdorf Kölsch from Cologne) stands among craft draft beers from Michigan (Bell's Bear Hug), Connecticut (Two Evil Geyser Gose) and New York (Naked Flock), among other states. This beer hall also imports its food—from Lumpia Shack, Ed and Bev's, Samesa and Mighty Quinn's BBQ.
Spritzenhaus 33: In addition to two dozen draft beers (including Ithica Flower Power, Ayinger Celebrator and Anchor Steam Beer), this beer hall offers a generous range of canned or bottled beers, haus cocktails, wines and whiskeys to wet absolutely anyone's whistle. For food, enjoy gourmet sausages (choose from pork, beef, chicken, duck, rabbit, vegan and more) topped with tasty offerings like chorizo chili or jalapeño-jicama coleslaw. Soft pretzels or belgian fries with choice of dipping sauces make great snacks while you and your friends make your way through the beverage menu.
Radegast Hall & Biergarten: German and Belgian drafts by the pint, liter or pitcher (such as Kostritzer Schwartzbier, Palm Ale and Weihenstephaner Vitrus) dominate the on-tap menu, while there are dozens upon dozens of bottled beer options plus wines, cocktails, brandies and liqueurs. Spicy Hungarian goulash, beer braised short ribs, veal schnitzel and grilled sausages are among the hearty offerings at this authentic beer garden. In addition to great food, this venue also has nightly live music.