The New Old German
With kellerbier behind the bar
by Sally Mitani
The Old German, an annex to the Grizzly Peak, opened in July in the long, skinny stone grotto of a basement on the corner of Ashley and Liberty. Most of the space is underneath what used to be the Del Rio (a space the ever-expanding Grizzly Peak also now occupies). It's not a reincarnation of the beloved restaurant that the Grizzly Peak replaced, but it is a tip of the hat to it. The genuine Old German sign that used to hang on Washington is mounted over the bar, and toward the back is one of the original Old German's round oak tables. You can enter from upstairs, but it has its own entrance on Ashley, at the side entrance where German kids once picked up pails of beer for their fathers working in west-side factories.
This Old German, too, is focused on drink. It's dominated by two tanks of kellerbier (cellar beer) behind the bar, specially brewed by Grizz brewmeister Duncan Williams, who says: "We just open the faucet and pour it into the glass." When the tank is empty, he fills it with something else. Hoppy wheat and Altbier were the two choices in early August. (The O.G. also serves any of the beers available upstairs.) There's a short menu of German pub food, like a hasenpfeffer sandwich (braised rabbit on a pretzel roll).
If you want something that's not only unique but guaranteed to be served fast, order an eis shooter, a high-octane cocktail in a shot glass made out of ice. As soon as the whisky is poured into it, it starts to burn through the sides and bottom--several times an eis shooter has ended up as a puddle of whisky and melting ice on the bar. "We tell them to drink up, though more often it's the servers letting them sit too long. We make it a priority now to get them to the tables right away," says manager Chris Carrington.
Old German, 117 S. Ashley, no phone. Sun.-Wed. 4 p.m.-midnight, Thurs.-Sat. 4 p.m.-2 a.m. oldgerman.net.
[Originally published in September, 2013.]