By Dr. Ink
If you’ve never been to Southern Germany, a visit to Kaiserhof German-American Restaurant in Ocean Beach provides some Bavarian moments without setting foot outside of town. The visit also puts in your mouth some of Germany’s best-tasting beers made under strict purity laws dating back hundreds of years.
All of the beers during happy hour are reduced in price by 75 cents to $3, depending on whether you order by the mug, tall glass, small pitcher or big pitcher. American domestics also enter the fold. But as my drindl-clad waitress pointed out, hardly anyone comes knocking for those. And rightfully so.
An icy mug of golden Spaten lager proved crisper and more refreshing than any beer that’s passed my lips in a long time. Similar to pilsner, it’s a Munich-brewed beer boasting an eloquent balance of hops and malt — unlike many of the hop-heavy suds produced by modern, American brewers. With the happy hour discount, it came to only $3.85.
The only German-style beer on the list that doesn’t hail from the mother country is the Kaiserhof Kolsch, which is made locally by Ballast Point Brewing Company. Otherwise the pickings include everything from Hofbrau Dunkel and Flensburger Pils to Krombacher and the grapefruit-kissed Stiegel Radler.
Happy hour is savored in the intimate cave-like bar or the smoking-friendly “biergarten,” which resembles dozens I’ve encountered in my travels through Germany. The outdoor space is replete with live greenery, a trickling water fountain, beer banners and a canvas ceiling. Inside or out, the atmosphere is conducive for drinking the day away.
Some of Germany’s signature chow is also discounted, although if you arrive at 5 p.m. — which is one hour after happy hour begins — nibbles such as wings, meatballs and french fries are free for the taking from a small buffet.
I was an early bird and missed the complimentary food. Luckily, it was no big deal because the mini bauernwurst I ordered for $4.75 was like a free ticket to Munich, albeit for the two minutes it took to consume.
The juicy beef-pork wurst, tucked into nice crusty roll, was served with what seemed like Chinese hot mustard. I wished for classic whole-grain mustard instead. Needless to say, I applied it sparingly and adored every bite of the sandwich to the point of almost ordering a second one had I not been headed home for dinner afterwards.
Other bargain noshes include mini bratwursts, beef-cheddar sliders and beer-battered onion rings. If you’re hankering for a full German culinary experience, refresh your beer and saunter into one of the dining rooms for the prized beef rolls (rouladen) and pan-fried pork fillets (schnitzel). You’ll never believe this is San Diego.