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Oct. 7, 2014

Hofbräuhaus, expensive but worth checking out

By Kevin Liszka

Hofbräuhaus Cleveland — a German microbrewery, beer hall, restaurant and beer garden, located next door to the business building at East 15th and Chester — celebrated their official grand opening on Wednesday, Oct. 22.

The $8.4 million project, in conjunction with the Hermit Club, aims to bring life to what many consider a dead zone between PlayhouseSquare and the Greyhound Bus Station.

The original Hofbräuhaus opened in 1589 in Munich, Germany — the Cleveland franchise being an extension of the 400-year-old Hofbräu brand.

In recent years, the brand has moved West to the United States — with restaurants in Cincinnati, Las Vegas, Chicago, Pittsburgh and now Cleveland — with plans to build at least three more locations moving forward.

Visiting on Tuesday, Oct. 14 after the soft open Thursday, Oct. 9, the 450 seat hall quickly filled to near capacity between staff — dressed like they stepped off the set of The Sound of Music production — and patrons eager to grab a drink.

The crowd sang along to traditional German music piped in from the wooden rafters — glasses and silverware clanking for an overwhelmingly lighthearted tone. Later, live acordian-weilding musicians arrived to serenade the audience for an even more authentic German feel.

A few of the guests braved the dark skies to check out the beer garden on the expansive patio that provides a different, open-air feel.

Hofbräuhaus has an assortment of six classic Bavarian brews on tap, served in liters and half-liters, and range through the spectrum of light to dark beer — currently, the seasonal brew is Oktoberfest. The bar also has a good assortment of vodka and rum — Jagermeister, most prominently featured — as well as a selection of red and white wines.

“Drink one of these and you’ll never drink a Pabst again,” Bill Hilyard, of Lakewood, said as he took a swig of his half-liter Hofbräu lager from the bar.

An assortment of German-themed appetizers and entrees, —heavy on sausage, potatoes, pork ham and sauerkraut — make up the one-page menu. The giant soft pretzel baskets make for good munching food.

The cost-conscious student should be aware that the fairly upscale Hofbräuhaus is far from the traditional dive bar typically associated with a college campus, but food and drink prices are fairly reasonable for a downtown establishment.

The Hofbräuhaus experience is certainly worth checking out, especially with Cleveland’s large population of central and eastern European heritage embracing the brewery in the early stages, producing a pretty hopping scene.