Tashmoo Biergarten brings Oktoberfest to West Village

The crowds were lined up outside the Tashmoo Biergarten at noon, and they kept coming all day. Just in time for Oktoberfest, Detroit's first pop-up biergarten turned a vacant West Village lot into a "meeting place" (that's the American Indian definition of Tashmoo). The two lots at 1416 Van Dyke were transformed into what one guest called "something like a perfect 1960s block party, but with better beer."

"We thought during the course of the day, we'd get between 300 and 400 people," says Suzanne Vier, who, along with Aaron Wagner, brought the project to life. The total count? Around 1,000 patrons. Guests strode over a groundcover of wood chips to nosh on locally-made bratwurst, and pierogi from the People's Pierogi Collective. The communal tables, all constructed from reclaimed materials, were chock-full of neighborhood residents, Detroiters and suburbanites making their first trip to West Village. They lined up for a rotating selection of Michigan's finest brews on tap, including selections from Ann Arbor's Jolly Pumpkin Brewery and Holland's New Holland Brewing Company. The speaker system played everything from German accordion music to the White Stripes, while an outdoor projection screen showed a short film premiere courtesy of the Burton Theatre.

With less than a week till the next event, Vier says they'll tweak a few details to accommodate the crowds. "We're building a second bar," she says, with two salvaged doors donated by Hostel Detroit. "We're going to change up our lighting a little bit, rotating some of the beers, and everyone loved cornhole, so we'll toss up another couple boards."

Vier says the response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive. "We had people who knew about it, who just wanted to stop by and thank us for bringing a biergarten into their community, which was really humbling and really exciting. All of the Villages have been extremely supportive of the project."

The Villages CDC is acting as the fiduciary for the Tashmoo Biergarten, Vier says. Funds collected from the five-week series will go toward establishing commercial development in the West Village neighborhood. Judging by the crowds, West Village's biergarten will be serving up brews for a long time to come. 

Missed out? West Village will continue to host the Tashmoo Biergarten for four more Sundays this fall. Stay tuned for more here.

Source: Suzanne Vier, co-founder, Tashmoo Biergarten
Writer: Ashley C. Woods
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