In Germany I first experienced the joy of the beer garden. A summery outdoor park with picnic tables, where beer and festival food are served, but most importantly the German feeling of gemütlichkeit. It loosely translates as coziness or belonging, and a “leave your troubles at the door” attitude. And I was glad to find this spirit alive and well in Jersey City at Zeppelin Hall, a biergarten in Liberty Harbor. It’s a new development on the waterfront, not far from the Grove Street PATH station and another favorite haunt, the Brownstone Diner & Pancake Factory.
Turkish: No, Tommy. There’s a gun in your trousers. What’s a gun doing in your trousers?
Tommy: It’s for protection.
Turkish: Protection from what? “Zee Germans”?
That wasn’t a gun in my trousers, it was their curry wurst! It was nearly as tasty as the one I had a Curry36 in Berlin. That’s a late-night joint in Germany that serves excellent crinkle cut fries and currywurst. When I carried this foot long monster sausage from the counter, a group of frat boys cheered, “You got the big cock!” So I carried it at waist level. Firecracker was not amused, but she took the picture. The rest of the crowd was much less boisterous, probably because the Saints were kicking a mudhole in the Jets’ ass on the big screens. Instead of a bun, you get some spaetzle and potato salad with your wanger. It’s pretty good. I much preferred the wiener schnitzel that Firecracker ordered. It was a pork chop instead of veal, but nearly as tender and perfectly delicious. The lightly spiced batter was excellent. I’d get that, or a platter including it, next time.
They claim to have 144 taps, but their beer selection doesn’t run that high. There’s some duplication. They have a solid selection of German beers- including Spaten Oktoberfest and other tasty brews like Aventinus, which has a caramel malt flavor, and Belgian beers like Kira white, which was refreshing and light. However, they were missing the perfect beer for a German beer garden in America- High Point Brewing Company’s Ramstein Blonde Weiss. Or better yet, their Oktoberfest Lager, which is currently rated #1 Oktoberfest beer on Beer Advocate. Ramstein Blonde is brewed with Bavarian yeast and hops that they import exclusively, and founder Greg Zaccardi trained in Bavarian breweries before coming home to create this excellent craft beer. So what better suits an American German-style beer garden?
Because I’d love to try one of their beers in the immense $12 pitcher-sized mugs you can get at Zeppelin Hall. They also serve an Imperial pint size, but the big ones got us buzzed with one glass. I believe it’s the biggest beer I’ve had alone- though I shared a 96oz. one at House of Brews last year! The beer hall has an indoors for inclement weather and plenty of seating. It’s kid and small dog friendly, but they have some rules like “no birthday cakes,” which I found puzzling. Firecracker wants to have her birthday there, so I’m going to call and see if they order them for you, or what.
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