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Beer gardens have been popping up even faster than small-plates spots over the past year. But it’s not all brats and hefeweizens—although there are plenty of those, too. Outdoor drinking hubs are offering a wide range of beers, including some made on the premises, and eats that range from pig heads to calamari. (And in some cases, you’re encouraged to bring your own food.) Which beer garden is the right one for you?
1801 14th St. NW; gardendistrictdc.com
It’s almost always packed on nice days, but if you can snag a seat at one of the picnic tables, Garden District offers some of the best food of D.C.’s beer gardens. Try the pulled pork, German bratwurst with kraut, or if you’re really adventurous, a whole pig’s head. The limited draft list includes German and American beers.
Dacha Beer Garden
1600 7th St. NW; (202) 524-8790; facebook.com/DachaBeerGarden
In the shadow of a giant mural of Elizabeth Taylor, this popular Shaw beer garden focuses on Belgian and German beers with drafts served in giant glass boots. Cider, mead, and gluten-free brews are also available. Feel free to bring your own food. The beer garden is expanding into the building next door next year with three floors of drinking.
Denizens Brewing Co.
1115 East-West Highway, Silver Spring; (301) 557-9818; denizensbrewingco.com
This just-opened brewery in downtown Silver Spring has its own 150-seat beer garden where you can sample beers brewed on-site. The guys behind the BBQ Bus food truck supply the food, including pulled pork, Angus brisket, smoked chicken, and ribs.
1355 H St. NE; (202) 388-4053; biergartenhaus.com
Inspired by traditional German beer gardens, this H Street NE staple serves kolsch, pils, and hefeweizen galore by the liter and half-liter. The food will transport you to Frankfurt or Munich, too, with offerings like schnitzel, spaetzle, and currywurst. There’s plenty of room, with an inside bar, back patio, and rooftop bar.
Piazza Beer Garden
7401 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda; (202) 841-9114; piazzabeergarden.com
The owners of Cesco Osteria opened this Italian beer garden on their Bethesda patio last year. The beer list highlights local breweries, and the food ranges from fried calamari and Italian corn fritters to sliders and pizza pocket bites.
Glover Park Beer Garden
2505 Wisconsin Ave. NW; (202) 337-9700
If you’d rather have a Blue Moon than some obscure German beer, this is your place. Located on The Savoy Suites Hotel’s patio, this summer pop-up’s drink menu is dominated by brands like Corona and Coors, which you can sip from picnic tables or sofas. The food menu includes risk-free options like grilled cheese, chicken fingers, and caesar salad.
1200-1216 Bladensburg Road NE; (762) 233-7070; bardodc.com
A year after opening, Bardo is at last brewing its own beer for its 500-seat beer garden, the largest in the city. Founders Andrew and Bill Stewart are resurrecting 24 recipes from Bardo Rodeo, the Arlington brewpub they ran in the 1990s. The beer garden also has cornhole, outdoor movie screenings, and welcomes dogs. Bring your own food.
Sauf Haus Bier Hall
1216 18th St. NW; (202) 466-3355; saufhausdc.com; pictured at top of post
Located above Shake Shack, Sauf Haus isn’t so much a beer garden as a beer rooftop. The two-story spot serves American beers in cans and 16 German beers on tap—by the liter or half-liter. Equally well-portioned are the face-sized Bavarian-style pretzels. And if you want something boozier, look out for cocktails that incorporate beer.