In Pittsburgh this week, the team I was working with was looking for someplace jubilant to go out on Sunday before our long week of work. One of the guys mentioned that he had seen some German restaurant, and that maybe we should try that out. Now, Pittsburgh has LOTS of German restaurants; LOTS. So when he said he found one, I was excited to go to a little hole in the wall German restaurant for some nationalized-German food.
As we rolled up, it was with both dismay and elation that I saw the ubiquitous “HB” on the side of the building. On the South Shore, there sits Hofbrauhaus Pittsburgh. I knew that Hofbrauhaus had several domestic locations, but I didn’t realize they had one in Pittsburgh. After reflecting on the above observation regarding the density of German restaurants, it all made sense.
Interestingly, Hofbrauhaus’s first American restaurant was opened in Cincinnati. Other U.S. cites that have the luxury of hosting HB’s are:
Panama City Beach
Newport (Cincinnati suburb)
I added the last two, which were obvious from context, just for completeness of the list. There are extensive international locations, also, such as Dubai and Melbourne, Australia. Had I known, I would have been tempted to make a pilgrimage while we were there.
We popped inside, and it wasn’t quite what I expected. The brewhouse was directly inside the waiting area. The fermenters were sitting outside, although to be honest, they were probably just decorative. There was certainly a complete brewhouse inside, though.
I’m not even sure if the Las Vegas HB has a brewhouse. I wouldn’t be surprised either way. The building in Vegas is huge, so it could definitely be “tucked” into some corner that I just haven’t seen, yet. But on the other hand, being a homebrewer, I know the public water in Vegas is awful for brewing. It’s so hard that it chemically can’t promote the production of good beer. It could certainly be treated with yeast nutrients (mostly minerals), and a reverse osmosis system could be used to make the available water far better, but the German Reinheitsgebot is so strict about beer and its production, I’d be a little surprised if the HB emblem would end up on anything that wasn’t 100% German pure.
Also, in the portico, there was a picture of a beerhall in Germany. It’s kind of hard to see, but if you can get a good look at this picture, it’s just amazing.
I took a quick look around, and got to see the Pittsburgh beerhall, bar (with brewhouse, which looked pretty functional), and the outdoor seating area.
Notice the pipes running to the beer kettles.
This is only part of the outdoor seating area… probably about a third of it. And it WAS a beautiful night!
Finally, we found our seats. We started with a round of pretzels and a beer. The pretzels were fantastic, and the beer cheese was excellent. I had never had the beer cheese before, it and I found it to be a new guilty pleasure. I can’t imagine how bad it is for me, but it didn’t stop me from having 3 pretzels (we had two platters of pretzels).
I was excited.
I was actually a little disappointed with the fare. Traditional German sausages and Sauerbraten was on the menu, but I was hoping for something a little off the beaten path. But for being so traditional, I was a little disappointed that the Wiener Schnitzel was made with chicken instead of veal, although I don’t normally eat veal. Yes, I recognize that Wiener Schnitzel is Viennese and not Bavarian. I ended up getting the Schnitzel Cordon Bleu – chicken schnitzel with ham and beer cheese.
One of the guys I was with commented that he’s always looking for Schweinhoxe (pork shank). They DID have it on the menu, and he was very excited. As you know, we don’t normally shoot other people’s food, but I just couldn’t resist. The shank was huge!
After dinner, one of the guys asked if HB served Apfelkorn, an apple liqueur. Our server, Haylie, who had otherwise been nothing short of stellar, wasn’t quite sure what that was, nor whether they had any. She had recently turned 21, so we gave her a pass.
Now, I’m not a liquor guy. I’m DEFINITELY not a shot guy. We were having a great time, and we’d only had on (admittedly huge) beer, so when Haylie came back and told us they had Apfelkorn, the guy ordered 3 shots; he left the drivers off the list. I was not a driver. I have to admit, I was pretty curious. Against my better judgment, I decided I would try the beverage.
It was quite good. It tasted a lot like apple juice that had been topped off with just a touch of vodka. We were smart and stopped before anyone got hurt, but I could see how it could get one in a LOT of trouble, if they weren’t careful.
Before I left, I decided I would buy the mug in the background. Maybe that was the Apfelkorn’s effect on me, but when I woke up in the morning, I didn’t regret the decision.