When October arrives I want to bundle up and head for the nearest biergarten.

Perhaps in part because of the pandemic and an increasing interest in al fresco dining options, the past few years have seen an uptick in German-style biergartens in the Baltimore area. They range from old-fashioned halls with waitresses in traditional costumes to more modern establishments featuring local brews. But they have a few things in common: simple, outdoor spaces with plenty of beer and room for kids to run around. Many serve hearty German fare like wursts and schnitzel to help fortify against the chilly weather.

Though the growth in biergartens seems like a relatively recent development, it’s also fitting, given Baltimore’s deep German roots. It’s fascinating to think that there was a time when around a quarter of the city’s population were native German speakers, with new arrivals coming every day to Locust Point via Bremen. They brought with them brewing traditions and a taste for beer and sausage that’s shared by their modern-day descendants.

Among them: the celebration of Oktoberfest, a Bavarian holiday that dates back to the 1800s. A combination beer and agricultural fair, it’s become a favorite excuse to dress up in traditional German dirndls and lederhosen. Though it technically wraps up the first weekend of October, you can enjoy many of the area’s biergartens all month long.

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This Elkridge restaurant and biergarten urges customers to “join the schnitzel gang,” with the hearty European dish on the menu in various forms, including eggplant (pictured). (Christina Tkacik)


Oktoberfest, but make it tasteful. Subtle homages to modern German culture are evident in the pop music on the loudspeaker and the well-landscaped patio biergarten in historic Elkridge. Given that the restaurant’s slogan is “join the schnitzel gang,” diners may feel obligated to order the house dish, available either breaded, fried or grilled in pork, chicken or even a tasty eggplant version. On tap: German pilsner, hefeweizen and more.

5782 Main St., Basement Unit, Elkridge, 410-796-1530


Just in time for fall, Garten, a new Severna Park biergarten and wine bar, is set to open this weekend in the former Café Bretton space. “I think the vibe and true spirit of a biergarten is coming together as a community and enjoying good food and drink together in a lovely green space,” said Michelle Hoffman, who is co-opening Garten.

Together with her husband, Hoffman also owns Preserve, a beloved farm-to-table haunt on Main Street in Annapolis. On the menu at Garten: sausage from Binkert’s German Meats in Rosedale as well as doner kebab and schnitzel.

849 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd, Severna Park.

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Jumbo pretzels at Prost are just one of the many Bavarian specialties on the menu at this Aberdeen hall.
Jumbo pretzels at Prost are just one of the many Bavarian specialties on the menu at this Aberdeen hall. (Christina Tkacik)


For an unabashed taste of old-school Oktoberfest, head “unmittelbar” (immediately) to Prost in Aberdeen, Harford County. A cutout of a busty waitress in a dirndl greets guests to this blue one-story building, formerly the local chapter of the Moose Lodge. Inside, enjoy a friendly atmosphere where no one takes anything too seriously. “We have a waterfront view,” a hostess deadpanned after taking me to an outdoor table by a trickling stream. Just as appealing is the homey German fare like house gulasch, well-seasoned and full of beef chunks. Or check out the tangy sauerbraten, beef marinated five days following a family recipe. Save room for freshly made desserts like strudel and Käsesahne, traditional whipped cheese cakes. Stop by Oct. 7-9 for “Prostoberfest,” with face painting and live music.

102 N. Rogers St., Aberdeen, 667-231-4222

The outdoor biergarten at Guilford Hall Brewery in Baltimore.
The outdoor biergarten at Guilford Hall Brewery in Baltimore. The biergarten is kid- and pet-friendly and has lawn games like cornhole. (Cody Boteler/Cody Boteler)

Guilford Hall Brewery

A painstaking renovation has transformed this East Baltimore factory into a German-style brewery and restaurant that has to be seen to be believed. Grab a seat in the outdoor biergarten, which is both kid- and pet-friendly, and quench your thirst with a 1-liter lager, just like in the old country. They’ve got bierhall staples like a giant pretzel served with bier cheese, shepherd’s pie, schnitzel and other standard bar snacks, like sliders and wings.

1611 Guilford Ave., Greenmount West, 410-617-0136

Open Saturdays from 1-6 p.m. through October 15, Maienfels offers a taste of Bavaria just one block north of the old Lexington Market. (Handout)

Maienfels Biergarten

Each Saturday through Oct. 15 from 1-6 p.m. you can stop by this pop-up biergarten just blocks from Lexington Market. The family- and pet-friendly space is all outdoors, with a menu that includes Hofbrau, cider and wursts. Proceeds benefit the St. Francis Neighborhood Center. On Oct. 15, look out for an art market hosted by a neighboring gallery.

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Georgia Howard, who opened the business with friend Stella Mavrophilipos, says the garden was inspired in part by time she spent in Europe. “People love it,” Howard said. “The whole atmosphere of it, being able to sit outside and be with other people.” Though the business will likely close during the colder months, Howard says the biergarten will reopen next April or early May.

319 N. Paca Street, Bromo Arts District


The courtyard biergarten below natural wine bar Fadensonnen has been a gathering space for Old Goucher’s cool kids for a few years. The menu includes draft offerings from near and far, like an “Oktoberfest”-themed beer from Hampden-based Pariah Brewing Company or Reissdorf Kölsch from Cologne, Gemany. With the recent arrival of Chachi’s, a European-style rotisserie chicken and potato joint, there’s even more reason to visit.

3 W. 23rd St., Old Goucher


Baltimore Banner writer Cody Boteler contributed to this article.