August 19, 2011

Where You Can Get Real Beer

Earlier this year, The New York Times ran a fab story about the ever-growing number of beer gardens of NYC. It made me pine for my old stomping grounds of Astoria, Queens, where I used to live, and where I often frequented the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden. Ahhh, drinking a large, lovely glass of pilsner at a picnic table under the stars, surrounded by mammoth sycamore trees and other fun-loving New Yorkers … (Sniff.)

Lots of fun, foreign beer on tap
at the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden.
So when one of my old friends suggested we get together for a ladies’ weekend at her place just outside of the city and take a trip out to the beer garden, I and another one of my beer garden-loving comrades took to the road.

Side note: On the recommendation of delightful blogger Sami at, I stopped on my way at Sugarbelle in Glastonbury, Conn., for a box o' cupcakes. (No self-respecting gal heads out on a road trip without proper sustenance.) The flavor choices there abound: I selected mojito cupcakes (Note: I kid you not, you must be 21 years old to purchase them), as well as PB&J, cookies n’ cream, Boston cream, and carrot flavors. The PB&J is out of this world: Filled with jelly and topped with ridiculously good pb frosting. Eat it, I beg of you.

OK, back to the matter at hand: beer.
My friends and I - about a decade ago -
living it up at  the Beer Garden. *Wistful sigh.*
Drinking with friends
and strangers alike in 2011.

Most easily accessible via the subway's N or Q lines, the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden promises a festive atmosphere and an easygoing crowd. No need to dress up for the occasion (this is the Bohemian Hall, after all), although you may find a few beer wench-type outfits on the ladies who are on hand to promote the latest Czech liquor and chat with the single - and, perhaps, not single - men.

This place hasn't been around for 100 years for nothing. (Note: Thankfully, they're recently rebuilt the bathrooms.) Here, you'll enjoy ample, half-liter servings of great beer on tap - including Spaten Oktoberfest (delicious and nutty if you love your amber lagers - and please pronounce it "Schpaa-ten," not "SPAT-in"), the Belgian wheat beer Hoegaarden (unfortunately, I never do seem to be able to pronounce this one properly), and the Bohemian Hall's old classic, Pilsner Urquell (a decidedly hoppy Czech concoction).

Kielbasa, potato pancakes, pierogis, and more await you.
Speaking of hops, on a Saturday night, this place is doing just that - hopping. But no worries, you are not here to sit in the bar. No, this is a beer garden. Dozens of long picnic tables, many under roomy tents, offer you a place to sit and commune with your fellow lovers of beer, listen to live music, star-gaze, and order up schnitzel and a good selection of other Central and Eastern European treats from the outdoor grill - all till 3 a.m. on weekends.

As if our pitchers of pilsner did not provide quite enough of our daily carb intake, the three of us shared generous portions of freshly grilled kielbasa (and fries), potato pierogis, and potato pancakes, complete with the traditional applesauce and sour cream. 

Need I say more? Enjoy a change of scenery and get ye to the old country.

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