Biergarten Haus brings a German beer garden to H Street
Get ready for a year-round Oktoberfest on H Street.
Biergarten Haus, the city's largest -- and only -- German-style beer garden, is poised to bring bratwurst, hefeweizen and strolling accordion players to 1355 H St. NE next month. (There's still some construction to be done, says co-owner Aaron McGovern, so the target date is "early-to-mid April.")
The centerpiece of Biergarten Haus is its enormous courtyard, which holds more than 300 people. In Oktoberfest style, much of the space has long rows of communal hardwood tables and benches. Trees and hanging plants are dotted around the brick patio. Flags representing Germany's 16 states fly from a small carriage house, which is being turned into a bar and kitchen.
To heighten the you're-not-in-Washington-anymore atmosphere, there will be polka bands on weekends and strolling accordionists playing German tunes, plus the regular airing of traditional drinking songs like "Ein Prosit."
And now for the most important part: The all-German beer list includes a dozen on tap -- served from giant German beer towers -- and two dozen more in bottles, selected by beer expert Bill Catron, who created the all-Belgian menu at Brasserie Beck. Gaffel Koelsch, Franziskaner Dunkel, Einbecker Mai-Ur-Bock and Veltins Pilsner are among the drafts that will be served in liter and half-liter sizes.
From the kitchen, expect hearty German dishes -- a variety of wursts, spaetzle, sauerbraten, Wiener schnitzel, sauerkraut and potato salad.
During the World Cup, Biergarten Haus plans to be open for all games, which will be projected onto brick walls outdoors and shown on large flat-screen TVs inside.
I plan to spend most of my time outside at Biergarten Haus, but there is a two-story indoor bar that is being redone to look like a hunting lodge from a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. Think stained red chestnut wood trim and paneling, fake finishing for a worn-in look and a display of vintage beer steins. The gigantic head of a red deer stag will hang over the upstairs bar, while a bighorn sheep's head has a similar place of pride downstairs.
McGovern explains that he and partner Arturas "Jeepo" Vorobjovas, who also own Russia House, wanted to create a bar that was like nothing else in the city. Well, the've succeeded.
Between now and the grand opening, there are still a number of pieces in flux; For example, the owners have floated the idea of having a "Stein Club" where you could keep a half-liter stein of your own behind the bar, but they haven't worked out the details. We'll keep you updated when we have the dates locked down. Sipping that first liter of Schneider Weisse on the patio is one thing that I'm really looking forward to this spring.
-- Fritz Hahn
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