As the sun finally shows its face in the District and the temperature begins to rise, everyone is taking to the streets in search of ways to enjoy the sunshine and quench their thirst in the process. And with the area’s brewing game steadily growing (80-plus local breweries and counting across the DMV), it’s no surprise that beer gardens have become popular gathering spots.
“People want to be outside in the city,” says Ryan Roller, general manager at The Brig. “It goes to show when there’s one weekend in January when it’s 60 degrees and we have people calling to make sure we’re open; we’re open year-round.”
Since opening in 2016 in the thriving Capitol Riverfront neighborhood, The Brig has become a local favorite. The massive outdoor beer garden serves up a variety of 23 brews on tap – along with a Tito’s cocktail available this summer – and is able to seat over 200 and nearly 300 standing outdoors (think an entire section of Nationals Stadium!)
“With beer gardens, as long as you offer something for everyone, they are going to work,” Roller says, noting that he tries to keep beers on tap for everyone’s palate, whether they are looking for a light lager, traditional IPA or testing the waters with something stronger.
“I’ve got this delicious, unfiltered, raspberry sour IPA that literally pours pink out of the tap, and people see that pink coming out and they’re like, ‘Wow!’”
Over on Georgia Avenue, entering Midlands Beer Garden feels much like an escape, with a welcoming outdoor space of communal picnic tables and wooden trellises decorated with lighting to take you away from city life for awhile.
On any given evening or weekend, you can find groups gathered to enjoy one of the 22 beers on draft, including a fair share of local brews, East Coast favorites, and German and Belgian varieties. A limited menu serves up giant pretzels and sandwiches, including a tasty bánh mì, but guests are also welcome to bring in their own food or order delivery.
The popularity of beer gardens in an urban environment like the DMV can also be attributed to the neighborhood feel they provide. Over in the Arlington neighborhood of Rosslyn, Continental Beer Garden does exactly this, with a large open space of high communal tables, lounge chairs and patio sofas along with bocce courts, creating a fun, recreational outlet among the high-rises and busy street traffic.
“We often heard that Rosslyn was missing an outdoor space,” says Katie Smith, Continental’s general manager. “A term I’ve heard is a third place – not a home or work – but another place that people will spend a lot of time. Our vibe is so relaxed even though it’s in the middle of so much activity. We’re an oasis that’s around the corner versus having to travel to enjoy being outdoors.”
Open seasonally when the temps rise above 60 degrees, Continental offers up German Weihenstephaner beers, as well as local craft varieties. A colorful mural by artist Jason Woodside brightens up the outdoor space, while lights strung around create a warm ambiance for when the sun goes down.
Also located in Arlington, Westover Market and Beer Garden is another outdoor beer drinking location to check out. Westover opened in 2009, and happens to be the DC area’s first-ever beer garden. While the market is renowned for its in-house butcher and incredible beer selection, the outdoor garden space has grown in popularity for its unique personality and neighborhood vibe.
The gated stone patio has several picnic tables, surrounded by lush green trees and plants, with live music when the weather prevails. During the summertime, they also offer up tasty barbecue along with burgers and sandwiches, all utilizing local, grass-fed meats. Be sure to chase it down with the variety of beers offered in the garden, including a highly recommended (and refreshing!) mango white ale for the summertime.
Learn more about these area beer gardens below. Cheers!
The Brig: 1007 8th St. SE, DC; www.thebrigdc.com
Continental Beer Garden: 1901 Fort Myer Dr. Arlington, VA; www.continentalpoollounge.com
Midlands Beer Garden: 3333 Georgia Ave. NW, DC; www.midlandsdc.com
Westover Market and Beer Garden: 5863 Washington Blvd. Arlington, VA; www.westovermarketbeergarden.com