Let’s get something out of the way from the start: there’s a lot of debate about whether or not any of the so-called beer gardens in Southwestern Connecticut actually qualify as beer gardens.
Some argue that the only requirement for a beer garden is an outdoor seating area where brews and food are served. Pretty simple. Others might argue that there’s more to it than that — that the vast majority of the establishment must be outdoors, that it must have communal seating and that it must have shade from natural vegetation. Oh, and that there must be nods to German culture, whether it’s traditional music, fare or garb (lederhosen, anyone?). In that sense, the only true beer gardens exist in the old country, or maybe in Brooklyn.
But no matter what side of this debate you’re on, there’s no arguing this fact: the self-proclaimed “beer gardens” in the region are a hell of a lot of fun. From Stamford to Bethel to Stratford, these establishments are keeping the pints flowing and the energy popping as friends and strangers gather for what have grown to become the biggest parties in the region.
So where are the “beer gardens” and what do they have to offer? Let’s take a look (and while we’re at it, let’s find out where else you can enjoy a beer in the open air):
BEER GARDEN @ HARBOR POINT -- This sprawling, 6,000-square-foot South End jump off has exploded in popularity since it launched last spring. And it's no wonder: boasting a bevy of craft beers on tap -- Dogfish Head, Captain Lawrence, Curious Traveler, Thomas Hooker, Two Roads -- food trucks (lobster rolls, anyone?), live bands and harbor views, it's the ideal summertime party spot. 15 Harbor Point Road, Stamford. email@example.com,www.beeratthepoint.com
BEER GARDEN AT BOBBY Q'S BODACIOU BAR & GRILL-- Fairfield County's favorite BBQ joint also boasts an authentic rooftop beer garden featuring 12 brews on tap and a full bar. What's more, there's live music on Fridays and Saturdays. Oh, and did we mention the mouth-watering BBQ? Try some St. Louis Pork Ribs, free range pulled chicken, or a Baby Back Rack Attack with your beer(s). 42 Main St., Westport. 203-454-7800.
Lindsay Perry / Lindsay Perry
LANDMARK BIERGARTEN AT STATION EATS -- This organic fast-food joint's recently renovated outdoor patio channels authentic Bavaria through a modern lens. There's a rotating line of draft beers, wines and house made margaritas, along with bier braised brats, beef hot dogs and house made bacon sauerkraut on pretzel rolls. Get ready to enjoy some live music too. 3 Landmark Square, Stamford. 203-588-0960, www.stationeats.com.
BEER GARDEN AT TWO ROADS BREWING COMPANY -- Connecticut's biggest craft brewery is a beervangelist's sanctum. And now, the owners at Two Roads are preaching the virtues of malt and yeast in their hopping new outdoor beer garden. Two Roads' line of popular homemade brews -- Ol Factory Pils, Double IPA, Saison and more -- are served from an airstream trailer bar, so they're always cold and fresh. 1700 Stratford Ave. Stratford. 203-335-2010, www.tworoadsbrewing.comTwo Roads Brewery in Stratford recently opened their outdoor beer garden.
BEER GARDEN AT OLD HEIDELBERG -- Nestled behind a German-style country inn, this gravel-bedded beer garden offers 40 rotating drafts and bottles -- from dunkels (dark) to hefeweizens (white) -- along with cozy spots to sit and a play area for kids. Taken with a menu of German stand-bys -- pork shank, sausages, mashed potatoes -- Old Heidelberg conjures an authentic Bavarian experience right in Fairfield County. 55 Stony Hill Rd, Bethel. 203-797-1860, www.restaurantheidelberg.com
Jeanna Petersen Shepard / Jeanna Petersen Shepard
SONO MARKETPLACE BEER GARDEN -- This self-proclaimed 'European style market' is upping its game in that regard with a beer garden boasting 12 beers on tap and bottles. Hungry? There's plenty of nosh to choose from: fried shrimp from Gotta Nibble Fish and Chips, foot-long hot dogs on pretzel rolls from Festivities Eatery, homemade casarecce from Pasta Presta and much much more. 314 Wilson Ave., Norwalk. 203-838-0719, www.sonomarketplace.com.
Gary Jeanfaivre / ST
VIVA ZAPATA -- 530 Westport Ave., Westport. 203-277-8226, www.vivazapata.com.
BARCELONA WINE BAR & RESTAURANT -- 4180 Black Rock Turnpike, Fairfield. 203-255-0800, www.barcelonawinebar.com/fairfield.htm
Christian Abraham / Christian Abraham
CAPTAIN'S COVE SEAPORT -- 1 Bostwick Ave., Bridgeport. 203-335-1433, www.captainscoveseaport.com
PIZZERIA MOLTO WINE BAR -- 1215 Post Road, Fairfield. 203-292-8288.
PIER RESTAURANT AND TIKI BAR -- 1 Rye Playland Parkway, Rye, N.Y. 914-967-1020, www.pierrestaurantandtikibar.com.
BAR TACO -- 1 Willett Ave., Port Chester, N.Y. 914-937-8226, www.bartaco.com.
BODEGA TACO BAR -- 980 Post Road, Darien. 203-655-8500, www.bodegatacobar.com.
STONEBRIDGE RESTAURANT -- 50 Daniel St., Milford. 203-874-7947.
BARNUM PUBLICK HOUSE -- 1020 Broad St., Bridgeport. 203-690-1044, www.barnumpublickhouse.com.
Lindsay Perry / Lindsay Perry
DOLCE CUBANO -- 78 Southfield Ave., Stamford. 203-817-0700, www.dolcecubano.com
CASEY'S TAVERN -- 85 Woodside St., Stamford. 203-363-0804, www.facebook.com/caseys.stamford.
MURPHY'S TOWNHOUSE CAFE -- 97 Franklin St., Stamford. 203-325-1815.
Contributed Photo / Contributed Photo
PLAN B BURGER BAR -- 230 Tresser Blvd., Stamford. 203-964-8353, www.planbburger.com.
SONO BREWHOUSE --13 Marshall St., Norwalk. 203-853-9110, sonobrewhouse.com