Apr 29, 2023

5 Columbus beer gardens to visit this summer

With Memorial Day behind us, we’ve entered prime gardening season — "beer gardening" season.

You’ve likely noticed that beer gardens — German-inspired, outdoor drinking stations — are becoming trendy around Greater Columbus. This practically seemed fated given the region's history of relocated German emigres and its spate of modern-day breweries.

The beer garden appeal is obvious. Unlike other types of gardening that require Pilates-like workouts, hanging out in a beer garden germinates open-air fun in warm weather and doesn't entail getting dirty while down on your hands and knees.

Anyway, from an urban hot spot anchored to a refurbished 19th-century firehouse to a scenic and massive, out-in-the-boonies beer garden that's more like a beer farm, here are some transporting places where you can sink some good drinks and eat some good food while relaxing under the use-it-or-lose-it summer sky.

More:Enjoy live music, food trucks and beer at six more Columbus bar and brewery patios

4131 Main St., Hilliard, 614-319-3427,

One of the newest beer gardens premiered in Old Hilliard last summer, and its name contains a shorthand portmanteau of its identity: HillGarten Beer & Wine. Meshing well with its residential neighborhood, HillGarten resembles a big backyard attached to a cute little park. Amenities at this outdoor-only, family-friendly operation include a dairy bar-style concession stand with notably pristine bathrooms; patio-style tables; cauldron-like fire pits; live music stage; and grassy space for spreading out.

Beer here:

Hillgarten isn't a brewery like the others on this list, but it offers 16 taps of Ohio craft beers in a variety of styles.

To eat:

Proprietary sausages are the stars here, and they shine brightest on HillGarten's killer charcuterie plate. The warm and zesty German potato salad and kasespatzle (gnocchi-like dumplings in an excellent cheese sauce) are outstanding sides.

734 Oak St., 614-725-1725,

Gemut's historic Olde Towne East setting links this hip business with an earlier era. It's easy to imagine German-accented voices echoing around Gemut's renovated 1890s brick firehouse — which is now a brewpub with kaleidoscopic stained-glass windows — and spilling out onto Gemut's stylishly rustic, fenced-in beer garden with mood-setting greenery, covered wooden communal tables and a gazebo-like structure.

Beer here:

True to character, Gemut showcases German-style lagers — which are making a comeback locally after years of IPA hegemony. The Golem pils is an easy-drinking go-to. For something maltier with more oomph, go with the Woden's Hunt dunkel.

To eat:

Gemut recently retooled its menu, but beer-friendly, German-style mainstays — jumbo soft pretzels, comforting sausages, crispy schnitzels, sweet-and-sour red cabbage and German potato salad — are still featured and impressively executed.

41 Depot St., Powell, 614-896-8000,

Note: an Audubon Park branch of Nocterra should be "coming soon"

A swath of ample parking connects the main drag in Powell to Nocterra (a made-up word for some "nocturnal land" of night brewing). But when nearing this facility, you might think you’ve traveled to a farther-away, woodsy enclave.

Nocterra's cozy taproom — which employs extremely hospitable servers — resembles a state park visitor center. Outside lies the spacious beer garden, where a forest-like vibe and tree line meet nearby train tracks and numerous amenities: an outdoor bar; live music stage; abundant, umbrella-shaded picnic tables.

Beer here:

Beta Flash — a refreshingly bitter New England IPA with pine-resin notes — is the bestseller, but Nocterra's house beer selection is eclectic and includes an uncommon lean into fruited beers and sour goses. Non-traditional suds-sippers can explore "Swell Line" options like the tart, fruity and coconut-accented Jamaican Swell Line gose.

To eat:

Nocterra doesn't have its own kitchen, but barbecue boss Ray Ray's Hog Pit commands a permanent food-truck spot, and additional food trucks frequently show up, too.

Restaurant review:Clintonville newcomer Preston's: A Burger Joint makes its mark with top-notch sandwiches

7620 Industrial Pkwy., Plain City, 614-536-1487,

Accurately outlined by its website tagline of "From the foothills of Bavaria to the fields of Ohio," 1487 Brewery lies out in Plain City, but not far from Dublin. German traditions are given local spins there on both a modest-sized, party-time beer garden equipped with a fire pit, lawn chairs and picnic-style tables, and in the airy and spacious, beer hall-style brewpub it's connected to via garage-style glass doors.

Beer here:

1487's light and lemony helles is its signature brew; I prefer the similar, clove-accented hefeweizen. Something sweeter and brawnier? Target 1487's dunkelweizen.

To eat:

The strong kitchen oil-crisps things right — tots, fries, Buffalo cauliflower bites and schnitzels are all fine choices. But don't sleep on 1487's chile-spiked, irresistibly decadent griddled bologna sandwich.

4380 N. Old State Road, Delaware, 864-301-5514,

Urban life fades away while motoring north on Old State Road in Delaware County to picture-postcard Henmick Farm & Brewery, about a 25-minute drive from Columbus. Henmick's huge spread includes a handsome, mammoth and dramatic, barn-like taproom with a copper bar and super-friendly servers. This leads to a family-friendly, three-level, farm-like beer garden with loads of picnic tables, fire pits and a dreamy, pasture-like green expanse.

Beer here:

Belgian and German beers are featured, and the aptly named farmhouse ale is a clove-scented, Belgian-inspired standout. Fans of classic American brews should choose Henmick's pilsener.

To eat:

In what amounts to an outdoor food court, multiple food trucks are usually set up opposite the sprawling parking lot of kitchen-less Henmick. On a recent visit, barbecue, burgers, gyros plus Indian and Mexican food were simultaneously available.

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More: 4131 Main St., Hilliard, 614-319-3427, Beer here: To eat: 734 Oak St., 614-725-1725, Beer here: To eat: 41 Depot St., Powell, 614-896-8000, Note: an Audubon Park branch of Nocterra should be "coming soon" Beer here: To eat: Restaurant review: 7620 Industrial Pkwy., Plain City, 614-536-1487, Beer here: To eat: 4380 N. Old State Road, Delaware, 864-301-5514, Beer here: To eat: