What could get more people to local parks? Beer

If all foamy ideas come from Wisconsin — and apparently they do — then beer gardens in public parks will head this way someday.

In the Milwaukee area, beer gardens “make use of the city’s German heritage while exploiting the current interest in beer and, to the county’s thrill, introduce residents to parks they might have overlooked,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s “Tap” blog writes today.

In some cases, Miller has provided thousands of dollars to rehab down-at-the-heels parks, establishing beer gardens therein.

But check out the review of “pop-up” beer gardens on wheels that turn local parks into a little slice of hoppy heaven.

The Traveling Beer Gardens make 15 stops during their 16-week tour. Sprecher provides the vehicles, all of which are repurposed emergency vehicles with converted beer pumps. The beer gardens serve craft beer, gourmet sodas, Hard Root Beer and Hard Ginger Beer.

Currently, Traveling Beer Gardens are in Red Arrow Park, 920 N. Water St., and Greene Park, 4235 S. Lipton Ave., St. Francis.

After last year’s success with the Traveling Beer Garden, the county brought on another vehicle. So while one Traveling Beer Garden went wheels down in Brown Deer Park, another was in Holler Park on the south side.

The trucks set up in a picnic area and begin pumping brews. For the first hour on the first day of setup, beer and root beer is free.

The Traveling Beer Garden is the exception to the bring-your-own glass rule. Glass pints, steins and boots are considered souvenirs. Use the glass again at any Traveling Beer Garden.

Pints are $6.50 with the glass. Refills are $5.50. A flight of five samples is $9 ($20 refundable deposit for glasses and flight board). Liters are $14 with the stein provided. Refills are $9.

For some reason, the south side beer garden always outsells its north side companion beer garden, a notation made by John Dargle, director at Milwaukee County Parks, Recreation and Culture, at the opening of a recent Traveling Beer Garden.

“Kegs never last more than a half-hour on the south side,” said Jeff Hamilton, president of Sprecher Brewing Co., and the man who buys the vintage vehicles — including one that was a gift to the city of Asbury Park, N.J., from Bruce Springsteen.

Sprecher provides the equipment. Servers are county employees. The revenue collected goes back to the parks program.

There are beer gardens in Minnesota, but none of them — as near as we can tell — is linked to any public parks.