[Historic Bars] Scholz Garten in Austin, Texas

Posted on: July 9th, 2014 by David Weible

Over the next few weeks, PreservationNation will continue its historic bars series with America’s takes on the shady, beer-brewing bodegas that originally sprouted in the Fatherland. Our first spot is not only one of the country’s oldest beer gardens, it’s also the longest continuously operating business in its hometown. Below is a rundown of the Scholz Garten.

Credit: Carlos Lowry, Flickr
The Scholz Garten has been an Austin institution since the day the original bar opened its doors in 1866.

Pop quiz: What do all of the following things have in common?

Bunsen burners, crop rotation, kindergarten, tubas, sausage, Christmas trees, the Easter Bunny, Levi’s (and blue jeans in general), and beer gardens (or biergartens).

If by “tubas” your mind was already running to the fact that all of these are contributions made to our glorious society by German-Americans, then chances are your last name is something like Anheuser or Busch. If you realized at any point that several of these things were vaguely German, well, that’s good enough.

But back to the last item on that list: beer gardens -- and Scholz Garden in particular.

Credit: Cole Young, Flickr
The interior of Scholz Garten offers an authentic, old-school Austin feel with a flare of the old country.

The Fast Facts

Founder: August Scholz, German immigrant, Confederate veteran, and all-around good guy.

Location: 1607 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, Texas 78701

Hours: 11 a.m. to “late night” (a good sign) every day.

History: The beer garden was founded as a simple bar in 1866 by August Scholz and pretty much immediately became a favorite of local Bavarian and Prussian immigrants to the Austin area. The beer garden itself came a few years later and has played host to outdoor music and entertainment ever since.

Though Scholz died in 1891, his son, and later, the Lemp Brewery carried on the tradition of the place. In 1908, the property was purchased by a local German singing group, and has remained under their ownership ever since, with a lease out for management of the bar and beer garden to a succession of proprietors.

Credit: Stacey Huggins, Flickr
The beer garden has long been a favorite spot for the University of Texas at Austin fans to prepare for Longhorn football games.

Building Type: A fairly nondescript brown brick building, which actually kind of makes it better.

Claim to Fame: Cheap, lager style beer. A combination of German food and barbecue. One of the best spots to gather before University of Texas at Austin home football games.

You’re Having: The Scholz Schnitzel, a pork loin wiener schnitzel with queso and pico de gallo with sides of Cajun rice and sauerkraut (really the best of both worlds here). Wash it all down with a few Franiskaner Dunkels and you’ll be all set.

Beer Advocate Bar Score: 85 (very good).

Best/Worst Yelp Review: “Always heard about it now I know great place” -- Louise D.

Bonus: This low-budget but informative YouTube video about the place (with great historical photos):

Tell us about your favorite biergarten in the comments!

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David Weible

David Weible

David Weible is a content specialist for the National Trust, previously with Preservation magazine. He came to D.C. from Cleveland, Ohio, where he wrote for Sailing World and Outside magazines.