I was in Madison, Wisconsin last week for a conference and after finishing my last law school final exam one night, I decided to go out and have a mini-celebration. As luck would have it, there was a German restaurant not too far from my hotel: The Essen-Haus.
The Essen-Haus is pretty much what I’ve come to expect from a German restaurant: dark wood, German beer paraphernalia, and a guy in lederhosen playing an accordion. The food was also exactly what I’ve come to expect, too: brown.
Look, German food is ugly, there is just no denying it. Ugly and delicious! I stayed traditional and had some Sauerbraten. It was brown meat, covered in brown gravy, with a light brown dumpling, and some dark red cabbage. Seriously, I don’t think you could make German food look less appetizing if you tried. No matter, the stuff tasted great. And besides, I came for the beer.
It’s taken me a _long_ time to become a beer drinker… I never drank it in college, and for the longest time, I would only drink wheat beers (liquid bread!). But over time, I’ve been broadening my horizons. So, with 16 German beers on tap, I sampled a few.
I started out with with the usual: weiss. I tried the Franziskaner Weiss which was a light, cloudy weiss, great citrus taste and really wheaty. Not bad at all, but I moved on to the Franziskaner Dunkel Weiss, which I preferred. It’s darker and the flavor is a little more complex.
There was a beer on the list called Spaten Optimator, which I was dying to try… I mean, what an awesome name for a beer, “Optimator”! Who wouldn’t like that?! But sadly, they were out. So I tried the Spaten Lager instead. It was light and crisp–pretty tasty overall.
The beer I ended up with for my meal was a Kostritzer Schwarzbier . I’d never had a Schwarzbier before, but damn, that was one amazing beer. It was a deep brown and had a smooth, roasted taste–very malty. I could have consume quite a bit of this beer. Oh, wait, I did!
So, if you’re in Madison, I think it’s worth stopping by the Essen-Haus for a nice meal of German beer, I mean _with_ German beer.