Front Range

Garden Party

Lowry's new beer garden.

August 2012

When the Lowry Beer Garden opened not long ago, we were stunned to hear it referred to as the first actual “beer garden” in Denver. Turns out, the historical criteria for such a space excludes more than a few self-proclaimed local gardens.

The concept of the beer garden (from the German biergarten) was born after Bavarian breweries planted chestnut trees above their cellars to help the ground—and the beer beneath it—stay cool. Before long, breweries capitalized on these pleasant spaces, pulling in picnic tables and selling comfort food and steins of beer.

Today, the definition of what constitutes a beer garden has been broadened, but the generally agreed-upon requirements include an outdoor location, shade-giving trees, and ample communal seating. This means rooftop “gardens” don’t qualify (they’re patios), nor do indoor spaces (they’re called beer halls, or just bars), nor do concrete slabs with umbrellas instead of trees and four-tops instead of picnic tables (patios again).

So, indeed, it seems as though our craft beer–crazed city has been missing out on by-the-book beer gardens. Although we’re not sure if the Lowry garden technically makes the cut either, we’re willing to contemplate the idea, pint in hand.