Backyard Beer Garden Ideas: Celebrate Oktoberfest at Home

Raise a glass of beer and toast fall.

Terri Zimmer


Raise a huge glass of beer and toast fall with these backyard beer garden ideas! Oktoberfest starts on September 18th and runs until October 3rd in 2021. For most of the US, the weather is still nice enough to be outside with a beer stein in hand. Check out our ideas for setting up a beer garden in your own backyard.


What is a Beer Garden?

A beer garden is exactly what it sounds like: a typically outdoor venue where you drink copious amounts of beer. Born in Europe, these venues have evolved from the traditional image associated with beer gardens.

Today, beer gardens popping up in the US look less like this:

Photo: anandoart/

And more like this:

Photo: Steve Hill

Lederhosen are definitely optional (but not frowned upon, if you're into hosting a traditional Oktoberfest event). You can capture the vibe of the modern beer garden, or go traditional. Either way, there are some guidelines you’ll want to follow to make your own backyard beer garden authentic. 

How to set up a backyard beer garden.

Backyard Beer Garden Seating & Decor

“Don’t sprawl. Communal seating is part of the experience” says Andrea Berkman of  Rent long tables or picnic tables to replicate the seating-of-choice for beer gardens. The whole idea is to come together as one large group to celebrate. You can trade picnic tables for any kind of community seating.

Photo: Steve Hill

Backyard Beer Garden Games

Modern beer gardens love to offer games to encourage interaction. Ping pong (also a favorite at The Bash), board games and Jenga help to get people mingling. P.S. Here are more outdoor party game ideas.

Photo: Steve Hill

What Oktoberfest Beer to Serve 

You can be very strict about what you serve and follow the rules like they do in Munich. They stick to the  Reinheitsgebot, or German Beer Purity Law.

“Only specific beers qualify to be served at Munich’s Oktoberfest. They must be a minimum of about 6% alcohol, and brewed within the city limits of Munich,” according to a source at They recommend serving these beers for an authentic 'fest.

  • Hofbrau Oktoberfest (created just for Munich’s Ocktoberfest)
  • Lowenbrau
  • Spaten Oktoberfest
  • Augustiner Brau German Beer

Photo: iStock

However, rules are meant to be broken (and chances are your party is nowhere near Munich). According to InsideHook, an “Oktoberfest” beer typically falls into one of two types — a sweet, malty Märzen or a pale, crisp festbier. In the US, most Oktoberfests tend to be closer to a Märzen, while Germany prefers the lighter festbiers. These are their top ten 2021 recommendations for American brewed options:

  • Avery Brewing The Kaiser (ABV: 8.0%)
  • Brooklyn Oktoberfest (ABV: 5.5%)
  • Firestone Walker Oaktoberfest (ABV: 5.2%)
  • Great Lakes Brewing Oktoberfest (ABV: 6.5%)
  • Jack’s Abby Copper Legend Octoberfest (ABV: 5.7%)
  • Karbach Karbachtober Fest (ABV: 5.5%)
  • Sam Adams Octoberfest (ABV: 5.3%)
  • Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest (ABV: 5.5%)
  • Surly Brewing Oktoberfest (ABV: 6.0%)
  • Victory Brewing Festbier (ABV: 5.6%)

When in doubt, choose something like Sam Adams Oktoberfest that has mass appeal, or consult a bartender for expert advice and local brews. 

Oktoberfest Food & Snacks

Traditional Oktoberfest fare is heavily German. Big soft pretzels, schnitzel (pork or veal, pounded thin then breaded and fried), and of course, bratwurst. The folks at Sam Adams provided us with an amazing boiled bratwurst recipe.

Photo Credit: Sam Adams 

Samuel Adams OctoberFest Boiled Brats

Recipe by Chef David Burke
Serves 8 

8 fresh bratwurst
8 large white or yellow onion, coarsely chopped
24 ounces (3 cups) Samuel Adams OctoberFest 
8 hotdog or torpedo rolls, lightly toasted

Ketchup, optional
Mustard, optional
Onion relish, optional
Pickle relish, optional

In a large saucepan, combine the beer and onions. Add the bratwurst and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. 
Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the brats are heated through. Adjust the heat to maintain the simmer. 
Using a slotted spoon or tongs, lift the brats from the poaching liquid and nestle in the rolls. Top with any of the accompanying condiments and serve.

But again, you don’t need to be a slave to tradition. You can also serve BBQ during your festivities.

Bonus: We've got even more Oktoberfest food ideas here.

Photo: Steve Hill

Anything you can do in large, family-style servings is in the true spirit of Oktoberfest. The point is not just to drink a ton of beer, but to join together with friends new and old.

Find more party ideas here on The Bash.

Published on 9/15/2021