Boston's 11 Hottest Beer Gardens & Beer Halls

By Scott Kearnan  |  July 6, 2015

Warm nights with cold beers; breezy days spent getting buzzed. Summer is the perfect time to hit up a beer garden or beer hall with friends, and though Boston doesn't exactly runneth over with options, we've found several that deserve your time, attention and tippling. Cheers!

  • Aeronaut Brewing Co. 

    Hip sippers flock to this cavernous brewery and taproom to tip back pints of the titular craft suds, which flow in several different styles, and find quirky diversions like live music, arcade games and a retro Nintendo console that projects the gameplay across the warehouse-high back wall. 

    Drink This: Lately, we've been sipping on the Red Galaxy, with notes of dark fruit and lots of rye malt.

    Eat This: Munchies come from food trucks that wait out front, or from edibles artisans who set up shop in the Foods Hub, an adjacent incubator for small-batch purveyors.

    Know This: Soon you'll be able to spend a Saturday sipping on suds and a Saturday night dining on ultra-refined fare. Chef Peter Ungar's Tasting Counter restaurant is slated to open in the same Somerville building this summer. (More details here.)

    14 Tyler St., Somerville; 617-987-4236

  • Credit: American Fresh/Facebook

    American Fresh Brewhouse

    Re-purposed shipping crates form this brick-and-mortar outpost from Somerville craft-beer makers Slumbrew. Opened in November, the Assembly Row beer garden features a heated tent for year-round (mostly) sipping. 

    Drink This: Besides the IPAs, porters and other brews, those who just need to quench their thirst (minus a buzz) should check out American's new housemade Meyer lemonade. 

    Eat This: A Fluffernutter sandwich ($5) with almond butter pays tribute to the gooey Somerville-born confection, but we also love the (compostable!) charcuterie plate ($13) with locally sourced meats, cheeses and jams.

    Know This: Shipping crates-turned-bars might be a trend in the making. The South End's Cinquencento just added one to their patio too. 

    301 Canal St., Somerville; 800-428-1150

  • American Fresh Boynton Yards

    If you'd rather stay in A/C-regulated environs, even newer is Slumbrew's Boynton Yards taproom, a 1,500-sq.-ft. facility filled with communal tables, plenty of overhead TVs, production space for experimenting with small test batches and retail of take-home starter kits for budding brewers.    

    Drink This: Should the many varieties of suds threaten to put you to sleep, perk up with George Howell cold-brew iced coffee. American Fresh is serving the specialty coffee pioneer's beans all summer long. 

    Eat This: The Boynton Yards taproom has a bigger menu of food, including a "Happy Piggy Pulled Pork" sandwich ($12); the pork has been marinated in Slumbrew's Porter Square Porter, and the BBQ sauce is made with its Happy Sol Hefeweizen.

    Know This: Don't let the slightly out-of-the-way location deter you. There's free parking after 5 PM on weekdays and all day on Saturday and Sunday. 

    15 Ward St., Somerville; 800-428-1150

  • Credit: Vincent DeWitt

    Brewer's Fork

    The brainchild of two industry faves, former Les Zygomates chef John Paine and beverage guru Michael Cooney (last of the stellar beer bar The Publick House), the Brewer's Fork has been a total hot spot since opening in Charlestown earlier this year. Now, it's also armed with an excellent patio that really completes the beer garden vibe. 

    Drink This: Check out the Avery Maharaja Imperial IPA that's now on tap. The dark amber Californian brew is very, very heavy on hops and malts, if you're a fan of the strong stuff. 

    Eat This: All the food is prepared in the open kitchen's Maine-made wood-burning oven, which results in lots of tasty pizzas. But half the menu is dedicated to equally delicious small plates like oven-roasted meatballs ($12) that combine beef, pork and salami ends with bread soaked in milk and yogurt for a tangy, creamy quality.

    Know This: Lunch is served from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM on weekdays, with a separate menu that includes tasty sandwiches like the banh mi ($12) with pork belly, ham, chicken-liver mousse, Sriracha mayo and kimchi.

    7 Moulton St., Charlestown; 617-337-5703

  • Bronwyn 

    Chef Tim Wiechmann brings German and Central European cuisine to Somerville, as well as one fantastic, festive beer garden for tossing back those steins. 

    Drink This: Before opening, Wiechmann took his team to Oktoberfest and to visit historic German breweries. So the beer list is expectedly filled with educated picks representing Germany, Poland, Austria, Czech Republic, Switzerland and more. Take a taste tour.  

    Eat This: That beer goes well with a giant bretzel ($7) with spicy horseradish mustard. 

    Know This: While you're there, discover one of the 8 Best Hot Dogs in Boston

    255 Washington St., Somerville; 617-776-9900

  • Cambridge Brewing Company

    Housed in a refurbished mill, the Cambridge Brewing Company has a beer-hall vibe, a spacious patio in the midst of Kendall Square and a lot of hops-related history: it was the first commercial brewery in America to produce a Belgian-style beer.

    Drink This: CBC produces plenty of rotating varieties worth sampling, but don't miss the sake-beer hybrid Banryu Ichi when it's available. 

    Eat This: There's some solid tavern fare to sop up the suds, but we're partial to the Hefeweizen-steamed Maine mussels ($12) with curry, coconut, lime and coriander. 

    Know This: We like that there are a few eco-friendly initiatives in place. For instance, the "zero waste" goal means that spent grain is used as animal feed by local farmers. 

    1 Kendall Sq., Cambridge; 617-494-1994

  • Charlie's Kitchen 

    The dive charm of Charlie's includes an amazing Harvard Square oasis that is open year-round (weather permitting, of course) with its own bar of 18 rotating draft lines. 

    Drink This: The brew selection changes often, but you can usually count on some of the local staples like Maine-based Peak Organic. 

    Eat This: Even in an area with a glut of burger joints, the sloppy sandwiches here are among the best around. Head here to see how they compare to other neighborhood patties in our Harvard Square Burger Smackdown

    Know This: Pound some brews and hit the karaoke machine every Tuesday at 8 PM.

    10 Eliot St., Cambridge; 617-492-9646

  • Harpoon Brewery Beer Hall 

    The local brewery brought to Boston a big, true beer hall filled with communal tables, the sound of clinking pints and faces chewing salty pretzels. Perfection. 

    Drink This: Taps change to reflect Harpoon's latest seasonal brews, so make sure you take home a growler of something you love. (The Craft Cider is pretty tasty too.) 

    Eat This: You'll only be able to nosh on pretzels at this beer hall, so if you're hankering for a full meal, check out our Seaport Neighborhood Guide to find the perfect spot nearby. 

    Know This: If you're planning to take a brewery tour, know that tickets can only be purchased in person on the day of your visit. Weekend tours typically sell out, so show up as soon the brewery opens — 11 AM — to make sure you score yourself a ticket for sometime that day.  

    306 Northern Ave.; 617-456-2322

  • Hopsters

    This brew-your-own beer destination has the spirit of a beer hall. Book time to create your own beer from start to finish (you'll return in a few weeks to pick up the finished product) or just hang out at communal wooden tables sipping craft suds and diving into tasty pub plates. 

    Drink This: Hopsters is Newton's first commercial brewery since the 1600s, and you can find its own house-brewed styles among the 20 rotating selections on tap at the bar. 

    Eat This: The flatbread pizzas are pretty tasty, but we'd go straight for the Ploughman's Board ($16) to build yourself a selection of hot and cold charcuterie with housemade jams and mustards.

    Know This: Have a friend who works in graphic design? The brew-your-own beer process even lets you design and print your own label for the bottles. 

    292 Centre St., Newton; 617-916-0752

  • Night Shift Taproom

    Last summer, the craft brewery opened its first facility with a taproom, a 2,500-sq.-ft. space with 24 draft lines for pouring pints and tastings.

    Drink This: The rotating lines let you sip your way through a list of "cellared favorite, current regulars and some brand-new brews," says co-founder Michael Oxton, one of our former 30 Under 30 honorees. Our suggestion: join the members-only Barrel Society for access to the most special, limited selections. (2015 memberships are sold out, but you can stay up to date on the next round of signups here.)

    Eat This: No food is served here, but the BYOF policy invites you to take in some takeout. (And you'll often find food trucks out front.) 

    Know This: There are T-shirts and other merchandise available, and brewery tours are available by request. 

    87 Santilli Highway, Everett; 617-294-4233

  • Sweet Cheeks Q 

    There's a lot to love about Top Chef runner-up Tiffani Faison's barbecue spot near Fenway Park, but the sun-soaked beer garden, with a retractable roof for rainy days, holds a special place in our heart.

    Drink This: There's a very large list of bottled, canned and draft craft beers for sipping. But don't overlook the inventive cocktails (like the Kentucky Rosie of rye, pineapple, grapefruit and mint) served in cute mason jars. 

    Eat This: Go whole hog (no pork pun intended) and get the Fat Cheeks Tray ($26), which lets you load up on three hot and three cold scoops of meats and sides (the mac 'n' cheese is a must).

    Know This: Keep an eye on the space next door. Faison's next restaurant, the Southeast Asian–inflected Tiger Mama, is slated to open this summer

    1381 Boylston St.; 617-266-1300