In the midst of the Oktoberfest celebration, I went to Germany with a few friends. Well, it wasn’t actually Germany, but it was extremely close. Brauhaus Schmitz on South Street is in my opinion the closest you will get to the true essence of a Munich beer hall in the Philadelphia area. When I walked in the front door, I immediately knew that I was in for an authentic treat as I inhaled the distinctive scent of German delicacies – wursts, schnitzel, spaetzel and brown gravy – being cooked in the kitchen. In addition, the wood paneling and Bavarian blue and white ribbons confirmed that I had suddenly crossed the Atlantic.
We were taken to the Brauer Bund, a large room with a vaulted ceiling and filled with numerous wooden tables. The chandeliers hanging from the ceiling were draped in festive ribbons; the light blue and white colors evoked anticipation of the fun that was in store.
Before taking our seats, we enjoyed our first authentic German beers at the bar. The selection of German beer at Brauhaus Schmitz is nothing less than amazing; many are imported specially for the restaurant and are not available anywhere else. I began the evening with an Ayinger Jahrhundert Helles Lager, which was so incredibly crisp and clean it wasn’t long before the glass was empty. After another round, we were introduced to our courteous and extremely knowledgeable waiter, Guy, who was born in Germany and remains fluent in German. As he led us to the square, rough-hewn wooden table for twelve, I was reminded of my visit to the Braumeister’s room at the Löwenbräukeller in Munich. Although the table at Brauhaus Schmitz was not private, its location in the corner of the room, as well as its size, created an intimate atmosphere.
I began my meal with a Bavarian Soft Pretzel and radishes, and for my entrée I shared the Wurstplatte with red cabbage and spaetzel. My companions tried many things from the menu, including the Schnitzel and PilzStrudel (one of Brauhaus Schmitz’s vegetarian offerings). I washed down the wursts with ein Faβ of Brauhaus Schmitz’s Oktoberfest. The sweet maltiness perfectly complemented the savory flavors of the wursts, spaetzel and brown gravy.
Rather than dessert (which was hard to decline), I ordered a Licher Oktoberfest, a beer that was created using a traditional recipe from the early 1900s.
When the dessert plates were all empty, we completed our meal in the traditional German way – with schnapps. I chose a herb schnapps, while others selected the Obstler (mixed fruit) schnapps.
When Guy learned that Chris from BeerGeekNation was with us, he immediately wanted to showcase the best German selections Brauhaus Schmitz had to offer. As clear proof that Brauhaus Schmitz is dedicated to expanding American knowledge of “craft brewed” German beers, Guy generously shared several samples of his favorites. We were all pleasantly surprised by the complexity of flavors we tasted in the hard to find brews.
As our celebration came to an end, my faith was restored that an authentic German restaurant has returned to Philadelphia. The combination of the food, the beer, the ambiance, and the service left me with no doubt that I will be returning to Brauhaus Schmitz to celebrate Oktoberfest again – but most likely long before “Ozapft is!” is announced in 2014!