Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten - Asbury Park, NJ
It's almost impossible to be a beer drinker and an Asbury Park patron and not heard of Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten. Open since 2014, the Biergarten has had quite the organic evolution within the Asbury Park downtown area. Overseeing Wesley Lake, the deck of the Biergarten is quite the sight to behold. The inside is exactly what you would expect the heart of a biergarten to be like.
The inside boasts plenty of communal seating, which encourages interaction between groups that are together and groups that aren't. This is definitely not a sports bar, nor should it be - so unfortunately, if you want to watch any games, you'll need to go elsewhere. Personally, I prefer it this way. When I come to the Biergarten, I come to enjoy good beer, an exquisite burger, and amazing company.
My favorite time to come here is during the summer, at the early hours of a weekend afternoon, where crowds are divided between upstairs and downstairs and accessibility to bartenders or wait staff is a lot easier than in the winter. If you plan to enjoy the full menu of the Festhalle, you will need to do so downstairs. The upstairs deck does have some dining options to go along with your brew like their Bavarian Brezel (a personal favorite), but the selection is limited. On this particular trip, I did a bit of both.
Why not start upstairs and enjoy some good old Vitamin D and some great beers - both international and local? The Biergarten has local options like Kane's Head High, Carton's Boat, Spellbound, and Dark City, just to name a few. Pictured above is Carton's Boat and the Braufactum Progusta IPA. Both were available and fresh on tap, which is always a winning scenario. There's plenty of options on tap and in bottled form.
Once the summer heat starts to dwindle down a bit, I'll be enjoying some of the dunkels on tap, or maybe a doppelbock, or even a maibock - all options available here. If you like beer, you will have the same experience I have almost every time, spending 10 minutes trying to decide which ONE to have. It's a good problem to have. Thanks Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten.
Some UV rays and a beer will absolutely open up that appetite after a while, and so I sauntered down the staircase to sit at the bar and ask for the delicious Halle Burger. At $14, this burger is an absolute masterpiece when cooked to a medium rare temperature. Do yourselves a favor, and do NOT take anything out of this burger, no matter what you might be picky about. The ingredients include a red onion slaw, muenster cheese, tomato jam with the burger on a toasted brioche bun. All of these NEED to be on the burger, and I'm so glad that the first time I ever ordered it, those were the exact instructions from the bartender.
Slaw on a burger usually overpowers the beef because of the thick mayonnaise taste. It does not do that here. Somehow, through the magic of James Avery's cooking, the slaw not only helps elevate the burger, but it works in tandem with the tomato jam to create a beautiful burger experience.
Just look at the side of that burger. The muenster on it is perfect and the choice of it is excellent since it doesn't have that bold flavor of a sharp cheddar, so it blends in beautifully with everything else. I'm torturing myself right now just writing this and looking at this picture.
Yes, more about the burger... because now you get the full view of the inside of it. When the temperature is nailed perfectly, it is a thing of beauty. My honest recommendation is to order one if the Biergarten isn't packed to capacity like at an 8 PM on a Saturday. I've had an issue once or twice with it being overcooked, but if that thing is down to my specifications, it's beautiful, glorious, and magnificent all on a brioche bun. This burger is easily enough to feed two people or enough to take home some since the plethora of fries you get with it will do you in as well.
Usually, I'll feature two or three things from an eatery, but I absolutely needed to showcase the burger. The Brezel is good and a classic choice for most diners, since it is pretty big and easily a great appetizer. But almost 9 times out of 10, I come here for the burger.
If you can have the combination of an excellent burger with a seemingly endless selection of quality beers, you are quite okay in my book. I've been here a few times and yet I've not really strayed from the burger just because I like it THAT much. Having the option to grab a burger at the bottom and then come outside at the top deck is wonderful. More often than not, on weekends Biergarten will have some form of entertainment upstairs or just take a group of your beer acquaintances and have a good ole social time. Either way, you can't go wrong on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
I won't say that everything at the Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten is perfect. I will say that the upper deck and the atmosphere provided by it are definitely amazing. I've had slight issues in the past either with service being too slow or a burger being slightly overcooked. In general, it seems to happen when Festhalle is quite packed on a weekend evening. As such, I've just learned to come much earlier and enjoy the food downstairs and then the ambiance and breeze up top. There's quite nothing like the upstairs deck in Asbury Park - and I love to mix my beer with some rays from that fiery ball in the sky.
I definitely recommend a visit to the Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten if you haven't been there yet. Now that the summer is winding down, it's the perfect time to go visit and grab a beer, or if you are there at brunch time, even a mimosa. If you follow them on social media, they always have activities that are always drawing crowds over, whether it's a certain band or even yoga on the deck. Give them a shot this weekend - looks like it's going to be a beautiful one. Cheers!