In recent years, the East Bay has become awash in beer gardens. And really, what’s not to like? Our climate demands more outdoor drinking environments, and they might as well come stocked with brews and picnic tables.
Not every bar with outdoor seating counts as a beer garden, though. In German tradition, beer gardens are laid-back patio bars with communal seating, beer, and food. And because it doesn’t snow here, we prefer some plant life as well. While we love a good brewery taproom with garden vibes, given all the focus on breweries during SF Beer Week, we’re looking to spots that don’t pour their own work. With all of that in mind, here are nine of the East Bay’s top beer gardens.
Arthur Mac’s Tap and Snack
This newish addition to North Oakland is one of the most aesthetically pleasing beer gardens in the region, with shipping containers, white tile, fake grass, and splashes of turquoise. Given that the project came from design firm Farm League Design & Management Group, this shouldn’t be a surprise. We love that it’s family-friendly — there’s even a sandbox for little ones — and you can order thin-crust pizza by the slice. The beer selection is no joke, either. With 17 taps, you’re covered whether you’re into IPAs or sours — plus, there’s always cider and wine for your gluten-free pals.
4006 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Oakland, 510-823-2509, ArthurMacs.com
The plant game is strong at Lost and Found. There are flowers, ferns, trees, succulents, and plenty of planter boxes. “Oakland” is painted across one wall in large, red block letters, and fortunately, the local pride doesn’t feel out of place or contrived, in part because Lost and Found draws a crowd that’s far more diverse than the average beer garden. Games like corn hole and ping-pong keep things lively. With 21 taps, the beer selection provides a wide range in styles with a California focus. There’s also wine on draft, cider, kombucha, and a fairly extensive food menu with solid vegetarian options.
2040 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-763-2040, LostandFound510.com
The openness of North Berkeley’s Westbrae Biergarten makes it feel especially German, and its location near the BART tracks particularly East Bay. The beer selection is a bit more limited than other spots on this list, with eight beers on tap, and the options lean toward classic ales and lagers brewed in California. Wine, cider, and food from Pedro’s Brazil Cafe are also available. We dig the community ethos at Westbrae, evident in how the bar donates $1 from every one-liter stein of Trumer Pils to support the Berkeley and Albany public school systems.
1280 Gilman St., Berkeley, 510-647-9079, WestbraeBiergarten.com
Even though it opened in 2012, Telegraph feels like an OG in the East Bay’s beer garden landscape. Maybe that’s because it’s so Oakland: chill, funky, unpretentious, and a little gritty. The walls are covered with art — new art, as of January — that make solo happy hour outings all the more interesting. In addition to 20 beers on tap, the food is legitimately delicious, and we appreciate that there are cocktails and boozy slushies — just in case we need a break post-Beer Week.
2318 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-444-8353, TelegraphOakland.com
With two levels, lots of reclaimed wood, and an industrial-chic aesthetic, Mad Oak is justifiably mobbed most nights. It notably sports one of the only rooftop bars in the East Bay. More than the hip vibe and proliferation of televisions screening the big game — a relative rarity for local beer gardens — Mad Oak draws crowds because its beer selection is consistently one of the best in Oakland, with a whopping 40 brews on draft. The full bar and rotating food pop-ups keep things extra interesting.
135 12th St., Oakland, 510-924-2047, MadOakBar.com
At Brotzeit Lokal, the German biergarten inspiration is obvious. The menu is based on Bavarian traditions, emphasizing house-made sausages with mustard, sauerkraut, and pickles. And naturally, the beer is German, too. With about 20 beers on draft and dozens more available by the bottle, Brotzeit seeks out hard-to-find German beers alongside monastery microbrews and pours from Austria, though you can generally snag a local IPA, too. More likely than not, though, you’re going to Brotzeit for its enviable waterfront location.
1000 Embarcadero, Oakland, 510-645-1905, BrotzeitBiergarten.com
Hella Vegan Eats
More restaurant than bar, Hella Vegan Eats is a radical vegan spot intent on being a safe space for queer and trans folks, people of color, and other marginalized communities. But it’s also a beer garden, with a lovely outdoor space full of greenery sitting along a vibrant mural. The brew selection is smaller than other spots on this list, with just six taps, but Hella Vegan Eats is more about the inclusive vibes and fun, animal-free fare to pair with the beer.
411 26th St., Oakland, 510-480-6777, HellaVeganEats.com
Moxy Beer Garden
On warm, wet days, head to Berkeley’s Moxy Beer Garden, one of the region’s few outdoor drinking spaces that will also shield you from the elements. Other amenities include burgers, darts, six televisions, and a fire pit. Instead of a standard pint, Moxy pours 14-ounce and 20-ounce glasses from more than a dozen taps, with an emphasis on breweries from across Northern California.
3136 Sacramento St., Berkeley, 510-547-6699, MoxyBeerGarden.com
Supplying Alameda with German eats, brews, and music since 2002, Speisekammer is a deserved favorite of folks living on the island. The restaurant’s sunny front patio also acts as a beer garden — a lovely, relaxing spot to enjoy one of Speisekammer’s 16 beers on tap, almost all of which are German imports. The selection is rounded out by more than 20 bottles — a mix of German, Belgian, and American brews — along with gluten-free beer, wine, and cocktails.
2424 Lincoln Ave., Alameda, 510-522-1300, Speisekammer.com