A History of Beer Gardens

Beer Gardens and German Immigrants

Beer gardens were brought to America by German immigrants as well as other Eastern Europeans. Immigrants were drawn to America for the promise of opportunity, land and a new start. There were also push factors that helped these people make the decision to leave their homelands such as war, religious persecution, economic turmoil, political unrest. German immigrants tended to settle in areas which had a similar climate to Germany. This gave them the opportunity to grow the same crops they had in Germany, wheat, barley, hops among others. A problem many German-Americans faced was a lack of quality beer. Germans had mastered the craft of making lagers, a pure delicious form of beer. The German-Americans worked hard throughout the week and each and every Sunday, after church, they would gather in parks, gardens or even on farms to enjoy beer, games, music and family in a uniquely German manner which was commonly called the beer garden. 

The Americans of English decent favored ales, ports and India pale ales, none of which suited the German-Americans' taste. Germans started out small, making home brews and selling them to the local community in all parts of the colonies. After the Revolutionary War German-American beer became more popular mainly due to the high standards of the brew-masters. The German brews were renowned for their purity at a time when there were no standards regulating the quality or safety of commercially sold beer. Germans began large breweries in New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and eventually St. Louis. Wisconsin brewers began mass producing beer due to a high demand in New York City and Chicago. The location of Milwaukee made it ideal to serve this demand with high quality ingredients, pure water, and low shipping costs so Milwaukee brewers could keep prices competitive. The market expanded quickly for the Wisconsin beer barons and Milwaukee became the beer capitol of the world.

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