Think Bierstube: brick walls, bar stools, brats (terrific), beers (even better), and braised sauerkraut to make a fan of any hater (why thank you, duck fat!). You'll find German brews—dunkelweisse, pilsners, schwarzbier—alongside local beers with a slight German bent. Even the pretzels are brezels—dense, pillowy, and freakishly exquisite with hot, sweet housemade mustard.
Beer snobs don’t usually gush about chain brewpubs. But chain brewpubs don’t usually have one of the state’s most talented lagersmiths develop their beer. Kevin Davey studied brewing in Germany and at Chicago’s prestigious Siebel Institute before becoming lead brewer at Chuckanut Brewery in Bellingham, Washington’s eminent champion of lagers and German beer styles. Then he plied his trade in a rather unlikely spot on the top floor of Pacific Place, in the shadow of the AMC movie theater. (Nowadays, Davey's putting his beer talents to good use at Wayfinder Beer in Portland.) Gordon Biersch is all about Germanic drinking, including lots of lager styles like pilsner, hefeweizen, and the darker dunkel. They’re subtle by nature; in less capable hands that can mean bland and boring. But here flavors are crisp and distinct. Now that might include an India pale lager (the love child of German and Northwest beer cultures) and less familiar pieces of German beer history like a smoky rauchbier, luring beer geeks up four flights of mall escalators.
It’s an Old World-styled German restaurant and bar in shiny new Cascade, populated by upwardly mobile young condo dwellers from all over the emerging South Lake Union neighborhood. So—pictures of lads in lederhosen notwithstanding—it doesn’t exactly feel like a retreat in the Alps. It does cook like one, with large portions of uncommonly good housemade cheesy spaetzle (German pastalike dumplings) alongside a rich stuffed portobello; schnitzels, brats, and Bavarian veal sausage; giant pork loins pounded tender, breaded, and sautéed; beautiful sides like red cabbage; and 18 imported draft biers, deep and brown and malty, and well navigated by a knowledgeable staff.
As the name implies, this sweeping place is indeed a beer hall, all whopping 7,000 square feet of it. It rips a page out of ye olde Bavarian drinking playbook: long communal tables, soft Bavarian pretzels, wiener schnitzel, grilled sausages with sauerkraut, plus draft beer hailing from Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic.
A massively tricked out German-style beer hall, dripping with chandeliers and reclaimed wood paneling and finished off with some bocce ball courts—it’s an unconventional combo, but man Rhein Haus is fun. The lineup of housemade sausages—kielbasa, cheddarwurst, nurembergs—is impressive but the spiral-cut fried potato impaled on a stick is drinking food at its sartorial best. The beer list is long and split between German brews and local ones (often in German styles).
Okay, there is no food here beyond a truly clutch bag of Tim's Cascade chips (though you may bring in takeout from such nearby spots like Dino's and Tortas Condesa). But this is beer destination and no other bar captures the coziness of European watering holes as does the Stumbling Monk. On the corner of East Olive Way on Capitol Hill, this sliver of a bar doesn't dispense tap after tap of IPAs (except perhaps one from Cloudburst), rather, its dozen tap lines pour out many a Belgian ale and was—for the longest time—the seemingly only place in the city to get a damn fine sip of sour ale. And this low-frills ethos remains with ever the solid offering of Belgian and Belgian-style brews—Chimay, tripels, Italian trappist beer, Swiss sours.