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It was in the 1850s that the Germans settled Milwaukee, and our city became synonymous with brewing beer. This heritage was rejuvenated with the opening of Old German Beer Hall and its authentic Bavarian beer hall experience. The few things I knew about the German drinking culture I had learned through the lowbrow film Beerfest […]

It was in the 1850s that the Germans settled Milwaukee, and our city became synonymous with brewing beer. This heritage was rejuvenated with the opening of Old German Beer Hall and its authentic Bavarian beer hall experience. The few things I knew about the German drinking culture I had learned through the lowbrow film Beerfest and probably don’t have any real substance, so I was longing for a real-life testament to their beer philosophy.

Located at 1009 N. Old World Third St., it’s situated among college bars and wannabe dance clubs, but the beer hall offers a low-key atmosphere with waitresses who serve the famous Hofbrauhaus brews swathed in adorable dirndls, uniforms cute enough that I contemplated filling out an application. On Saturday evening, this place was bumpin’. Even with hoards of eager drinkers swarming the front bar, service was surprisingly quick and painless. Not taking any chances though, I ordered a liter of the “godfather” (Hofbrau Dunkel) for $11. Sure that sounds steep, but the cups are the size of your head, and its contents nearly gave birth to many of the recipes you consume today. My companion grabbed a Miller Lite. Go ahead, scoff in his general direction. He has since been put on friend timeout for his complete disregard when it comes to tradition.

Take a swift trip past OGBH’s kitchen, and you’ll find yourself amid an old-world mess hall. Huge wooden tables accompanied by simple benches provide guest seating and even allow for a raunchy tabletop rendition of the polka when the band rocks an acoustic version of “Back That Azz Up.” Mounted hunting trophies are abundant enough to put Martha Maxwell to shame, and a giant log in the corner allows for patrons to test their strength and skill by brandishing a heavy mallet in the face of steel nails. The people in play had turned this into a drinking game to which I offer my commendations. If you’ve got a group of five, be sure to order your liquor by way of the wooden “shot-ski” and should you not have that fateful number, the communal ambiance is sure to provide a willing stranger instantly turned newfound friend. For an easy bet, go with the birthday girl.

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Do you know your way around a stein better than the average Hans? Join the OGBH Stein Club where you’ll drink your way to benchmark awards while consuming Hofbraus out of your very own numbered stein. Drink 75 liters and that stein gets engraved with your very own name. Stop in and ask the bartender, or that cute bierrmaiden, for additional details. I suggest doing so from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Monday through Friday when you can grab a free lunch with the purchase of any Hofbraus beer, root beer or cocktail. Not into the chubby knackwurst or their smoked pork chop, then swing through on a Friday at 6 p.m. for a free HB beer. With six varieties including a seasonal offering and the limited HB Strong Bock there is sure to be one that pleases your palate. Just be sure to offer your bartender that ol’ German “danke!” Auf Wiedersehen, and I’ll be seeing you at OGBH.

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