Mandeville: Beer Garden of Eden

The Mandeville Beer Garden is a magical place that creates a vortex of uncompromising joy

I’ve been to heaven and I’m still here to write about it. It’s in the open air and surrounded by wood, laughter, books, games, a happy husband, and beer. Lots and lots of beer. While the appropriate name “Garden of Eden” would apply to this land of glory, I’m happy that the geniuses behind its creation went with the cooler – and less boastful – Mandeville Beer Garden.

I’ve been hearing about the Mandeville Beer Garden since its recent opening from various friends and an enthusiastic husband, though my vision in my mind neglected to match with its true awesomeness. I knew it was an outdoor drinking experience, so I expected a scene like the front yard frat parties of my college days, full of Frisbee players shotgunning The Beast. But when my hubs brought me there during the Bears game, I figured I had to be wrong based on its vast, enthusiastic admirers. I could not have been more enthralled to be mistaken. The Mandeville Beer Garden, located just north of Main Street, is the absolute best compromise for me and my husband. He wants to watch the game, while I’d rather chat and not have him look past me to a wall full of television screens. He wants to eat wings and burgers, I want to eat kale and quinoa. And we both want to drink beer, listen to good music, and enjoy games and fresh air. Normally this means we either split up or stay home so we can manage all of these things simultaneously. Yet, somehow, this magical place allows all of these things simultaneously, thus creating a vortex of uncompromising joy.

If there was a Pinterest board for a modern-industrial-man-cave-garage-conversion, that’s what the Mandeville Beer Garden would look like inside. Wood planked walls with recessed cutouts featuring beer-related books and magazines adorn the walls, while garage-style doors open to expose the fresh air and blue skies, thus preventing that dark, depressing feeling of time lapse many drinking establishments encompass. One planked wall holds the tv showing the Bears game, while another behind the bar shows another, though I have to admit I didn’t bother inquiring who’s playing. I was more distracted by the massive chalkboard beer menu to its left.

This menu is not only a work of art, but a mind-blowing list of the current beers on tap. This list changes every Tuesday, so you could go on a weekly basis and always try something new. The printed menu categorizes the myriad of options to assist in your selection process. Are you into hoppy beers? Boozy? Citrusy? Toasted and Nutty? Gluten-free? Non-alcoholic? Sour, Tart, and Funky? Just choose your category and point. I found this exceptionally helpful as I never know what the beers are or what I like. Our kind server was able to help me determine my preferences and I can now attest that I prefer beers that are “Fruity and Spicy,” so the Hofbrau Munchner Weisse it was for me. And it was amazing. Both times.

Unlike many drink-focused establishments, the food menu isn’t neglected and posted simply as something to sop up some of the alcohol in your beer-filled belly. I was happily able to order kale and quinoa in a lovely buffalo mozzarella- and chicken-topped salad and my husband, though tempted by the Mac and Cheese Waffle Burger and The “German” Board, went with the Salmon club. The soup is made from scratch and the French fries really taste like potatoes. Crispy ones. And as we munched on our goodies and drank our glistening golden glasses of goodness, we were able to chat while patrons, my hubby included, watched football. I’ve never seen such a thing. On top of that, the music playing is amazing. The icing on the cake. Dylan, Tom Petty, and the Rolling Stones set the tone that this is more than a bar, but the coolest hangout ever. And what is the coolest hangout without the coolest backyard?

One wall of the Mandeville Beer Garden boasts three massive industrial garage doors, each of which can be opened based on the weather beyond them. When open, the interior and exterior meld into one. Outside, where you can still drink your glass of Bell’s Oberon or Kerkom Hop Verdomme, you’ll find baggo (also known as cornhole), ping pong tables, and a kid’s play area with sand toys and chalk. Hidden speakers subtly keep my darling husband updated on the game’s play-by-play as we enjoyed a little one-on-one ping pong. It was a grown up version of our college apartment where we fell in love while drinking beer and playing pong. Though now we drink beer far better than The Beast.