Gemütlichkeit in Rosemont with the opening of Hofbräuhaus Chicago

 

Beer lovers are a passionate and opinionated crowd and every one of them has strongly-held ideas about which brew is best.  Most of them, however, might actually come into agreement when asked, “What is the most iconic beer event in the world?”
 

Oktoberfest in Munich, of course!

 

Hofbrauhause Chicago beer photo by Leigh LoftusIf you haven’t yet had the chance to head to Munich, visit the legendary Hofbräuhaus, link arms with total strangers, and quaff amazing beer whilst singing German drinking songs then you definitely have something to add to your life list.  But while you’re waiting to save up for that big trip, you might actually be able to get a pretty accurate taste of it just outside the city limits of Chicago in Rosemont, IL.  The new Hofbräuhaus Chicago is the first and only German microbrewery, beer hall, restaurant, and beer garden to call Chicago home. 

 

The vast restaurant is a replica of the legendary Hofbräuhaus in Munich, Germany and gives an experience nearly as authentic as the 400-year-old original.  Everything has a Bavarian touch – from the traditional Beer Hall ringing with nightly live entertainment, to the King Ludwig Room (a smaller dining area), to the outdoor Biergarten that will soon be opening once the Midwest winter finally ends.  The heart of Hofbräuhaus Chicago, of course, is their “Schwemme” (defined as a “bar” or more specifically as a “watering place”) which seats over 500 guests and features live entertainment in a traditional beer hall setting.  Picnic-style tables and benches encourage everyone to share in the party and you can even stand on the benches!

 

The beer is brewed using original recipes handed down by the Duke of Bavaria over 400 years ago and following the purity law of 1516.  A Brew Master oversees the brewing of four beer varieties that are available all year (Premium, Light, Dunkel, and Hefe Weizen).  They also have seasonal specialties like Oktoberfest, Maibock, Pilsner, and Hefe Weizen Dunkel.  

 

Hofbrauhaus Chicago Black Forest cake photo by Leigh LoftusThe extensive and excellent menu of German food is comprised of numerous traditional Bavarian dishes.  If you have ever heard that German food is bland or uninteresting then you certainly haven’t had any of this superb menu.  The portions are generous and easy to share.  On my visit, everything we tried was perfectly-prepared and remarkably filling.  You can check out the online menu here.  Whatever you order, make sure you start with the awesome giant pretzel served with “Obazter” cheese, sweet mustard, and onion mustard.  And certainly, save some room for a piece of the Black Forest Cake.  Yum! 

 

Those of you who follow my personal blog at Table For One, Please know that I am generally a solo diner.  In the case of Hofbräuhaus Chicago, however, I would definitely suggest getting together a bunch of hungry, beer-drinking friends (with a designated driver, of course) since this spot is best enjoyed in a group.  In no time at all you and your friends will be linking arms and clinking steins with total strangers.  It’s what the Germans call “Gemütlichkeit.”  There’s not a great English translation of that word, but it roughly correlates to “good feeling” or “coziness.”  Those beer-drinking strangers next to you will feel like your best friends by the end of the evening.

 

Even if you haven’t uttered a word of German in your life, I guarantee you will eventually be singing along to one of the most famous of the drinking songs from the Hofbräuhaus – “Ein Prosit.”  Just to get you prepared, here are the lyrics:

 

Hofbrauhaus Chicago main dining hall photo by Leigh LoftusEin Prosit, Ein Prosit, der Gemütlichkeit. 
Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, der Gemütlichkeit.

This is followed by a call to drink: “Eins, zwei, drei g’suffa!”

And this in turn is followed by another such call: “Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke!”

To which the drinkers are expected to respond: “Hoi, hoi, hoi!”

This goes on for a couple of rounds, usually ending in a vast unison, “Prost!”

 

Just for good measure, check out this goofy video for pronunciation help (lederhosen are optional).

 

Hofbrauhaus Chicago Jagerschnitzel photo by Leigh LoftusHofbräuhaus Chicago is located at 5500 Park Place in Rosemont, IL.  They are open seven days a week.  You can reach them at (847) 671-BREW (2739), follow them on Twitter, or like them on Facebook.

 

NOTE: All photos used in this post are by Leigh Loftus and are used by permission.


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