In these waning days of summer, we often find ourselves scrambling to enjoy the last throes of warm weather. The nights are getting a little bit longer, and the all-too-familiar chill of autumn is creeping into the air, which usually sends people running outside to enjoy the sunshine while it lasts. Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten on the Jersey Shore caters to this fundamental need for an outdoor venue, and with Labor Day weekend right around the corner, their rooftop biergarten is a must if you’re in the mood for beer and brats in a casual atmosphere.
Located in a beautifully renovated brick building, the massive establishment consists of the downstairs indoor festhalle with full menu table service and the open-air biergarten upstairs. Like the festhalle, the biergarten features long communal tables with a first-come, first-served seating policy.
As guests walk upstairs they’re likely to encounter one of many live bands and a lively bar scene, offering spectacular views of the beach and Wesley Lake. The deck is made of unfinished long wooden planks, evoking the boardwalk just blocks away. Planters and even a green living wall of non-GMO produce build by Green Living Technologies adorn the upstairs space, providing fresh herbs and roughage for the kitchen led by chef James Avery of Kitchen Nightmares and Hell’s Kitchen fame.
The servers upstairs, while friendly and efficient, are only there to bring you beer — an admittedly noble pursuit — so if you’re hungry you can buy a token to redeem for one menu item at the small grill adjacent to the bar. Tokens are $5 and can be bought at the bar or through your server, just not at the actual grill. To accommodate the high volume of guests upstairs, the menu is limited to bier brats, frankfurters, and weissewurst with sides including warm peanuts, steamed corn, a cabbage salad, and the salty golden perfection that is the biergarten’s Bavarian pretzel.
As the only authentic biergarten on the Jersey Shore, the Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten offers a truly unique outdoor experience. It draws a delightfully eclectic crowd, and is a great place for large and small groups. The convivial atmosphere lends itself well to striking up conversations with strangers, but may be a little much for a couple looking to have a romantic night out. With 30 taps and over 60 bottles of beer ranging from classic German varieties to local craft brews, the biergarten offers a little something for just about everyone.