REVIVING MILWAUKEE’S BEER GARDENS

 

Long before Wisconsin was known for dairy, it was known for beer. Brewing has been closely tied to Wisconsin’s culture since the 1830s thanks to the German immigrants who brought their brewing expertise.

 One of Milwaukee’s late-19th century Beer Gardens in the Village of Whitefish Bay.

One of Milwaukee’s late-19th century Beer Gardens in the Village of Whitefish Bay.

By 1860, nearly 200 breweries operated in Wisconsin, over 40 were in Milwaukee alone. By the 1890s almost every town had a brewery in operation, and with them came the German tradition of the biergarten. 

To many of the immigrants of the late-19th century, lager beer represented family, friends, and camaraderie. And the local beer gardens were manicured to be the perfect setting with their shady trees and sprawling lawns.

The typical beer garden offered far more than just beer. There was music, dancing, sport and leisure. It was an occasion for the whole family, and one which usually lasted the entire day. The beer gardens of Milwaukee became an oasis for the community and their families.