Prost! Beer gardens and outdoor bars abound in Southwestern Connecticut

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):

Scott Gargan