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2012: The year of the L.I. beer garden?

A sign outside Middle Country Beer Garden in

A sign outside Middle Country Beer Garden in Centereach. (Feb. 3, 2012) Photo Credit: Ian J. Stark

Although not previously unheard of on Long Island, the beer garden is suddenly becoming a focus for some of the area’s nightlife.

The idea of the beer garden – taken from the German word “biergarten” – started in places like Bavaria in the 1800s, when refrigeration was not quite what it is today. Back in those times, the low temperatures needed for fermenting, cooling and serving purposes were well-achieved by subterranean storage, which led to the use of underground beer cellars that were cooled by the use of shady trees grown above and gravel scattered about. The product was then enjoyed at tables and benches that were set around the cellars.

However, during the current millennium, suds are easily kept crisp through modern methods – but the notion of outdoor revelry remains an enticement. And being born of Bavarian culture, many German restaurants around the globe feature lots, yards and other open spaces set aside for warm-weather imbibing. On Long Island, venues specializing in all things Deutsche, such as Plattduetsche Park Restaurant of Franklin Square (whose beer garden is open starting at 6 p.m. Fridays June-September) and Black Forest Brew Haus of Farmingdale, have them, as do some establishments that are more varied in inspiration, such as Bulldog Grille of Amityville and Grey Horse Tavern of Bayport. So the idea of these open-air allotments for beer enjoyment is nothing new to either Nassau or Suffolk County.

But back in late January, the long-running, now-defunct Mulcahy’s of Centereach changed its personality, focusing on a menu featuring dozens of craft beers – and became the Middle Country Beer Garden. With that, the idea of the beer garden being central to a venue’s identity arrived. Looking forward to its first summer, the Garden will not be alone, as now the Hamptons are set to join the movement.

Zum Schneider is a German restaurant in Manhattan (107 Avenue C, 212-598-1098, zumschneider.com), but an ad on its website is calling attention to an impending eastern excursion. Stating, “We are looking for professional full-time service personnel and restaurant managers for a German restaurant in Montauk, NY, from June to October,” it goes on to mention a soon-to-be “beach location.” And with the NYC Zum known for its festive moments, chances are that party-friendly attitude will spill into its East End outpost.

But apparently Montauk will not be alone in a beer garden venture, as Internet rumor has that The Beachhouse of East Hampton will be putting together its own area for outdoor suds ingestion (and possibly transforming into a new venue called The Hamptons Players Club).

If all these beer-driven, sun-drenched plans follow through, the beer garden may just wind up as one of Long Island’s hot events for 2012.

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