Beer Gardens Help Strapped Budgets in Milwaukee County

Oversized mugs of beer clink together as drinkers sitting under a canopy of trees in a Milwaukee public park listen to an accordion player.

Traditional German-style beer gardens, once popular but then outlawed during Prohibition, are back in Milwaukee County. The park department is joining others nationwide in starting to embrace once-banned alcohol to shore up their budgets.

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County officials estimate that since the first garden started in 2012 through the end of this season in November, they will have brought in $560,000 for the county. The county gets a cut of beer and food sales from operators.

The parks department has gotten inquiries about its success from Atlanta, Seattle and Cleveland, and its director is speaking about beer in parks in October at the National Recreation and Parks Conference.