Guten tag! That phrase, along with lager, dunkel, weisse and kolsch pretty much sums up my grasp of the German language. But now that Bellingham has a new German beer garden, I have a chance to expand my horizons—by learning the names of more German beers.
The American market is rediscovering German beers as an upcoming trend. Now Bellingham beer lovers have a place to enjoy them.
As you might guess, with a name like “Schweinhaus,” the emphasis is on more than beer. The little piggy on the sign is another clue that this place is a sausage lover’s dream. They offer a variety of wursts to satisfy meat lovers; on the day I visited, the list included currywurst, plain ol’ bratwurst, cheddarwurst, weisswurst and nurnberger.
I’m not sure what that last one even is, and as the resident vegetarian, I’m not sure I want to find out. And no, there were no veggie sausage options on the menu. I didn’t even ask! Something told me that idea would be scoffed at, frowned upon or just considered blasphemy. After all, it is the Schweinhaus, not the shallot house. (Actually, staffers Andy and Kate were so nice, I’m sure they would not have scoffed at all. Maybe giggled.)
The sausages are sizzled in a wood-fired oven that’s somehow rigged up in the bed of a vintage International Harvester truck. Andy did the honors and delivered our food in a jif. My companion loved the bratwurst ; it was served with a side of potato salad and sauerkraut. I stuck to my gigantic, fresh-from-the-oven Ralf’s pretzel. I’m a big fan of Ralf’s, and Schweinhaus’s three types of mustard made it even better.
With all this food talk, you might think I forgot about the beer. No way, Josef. Schweinhaus Biergarten’s taps are ready to refresh you with 12 lovely German-style beers that really hit the spot on a sunny day. They are served by the liter, the half-liter or a little .2-liter. For our first round, we tried Bitburger Pilsner and Firestone Pivo Pilsner. Both were perfectly refreshing, dry and crisp, but differed enough to keep things interesting. The second time around, we tried the Veltins Pilsner and the Maisel’s Weisse. This pils was more bitter, but not overwhelmingly so. The hefeweizen was a little sour with a pronounced banana and clove flavor.
The biergarten space is filled with all the necessary comforts like big, community-building tables and large umbrellas to protect our delicate PNW skin, along with large-screen TVs so nobody has to miss a game. And, there’s cornhole, because lawn games and beer just go together. Geraniums and flower baskets fancy things up a bit.
On a blue-sky Sunday afternoon in Bellingham, beer should be enjoyed outside, and the more places we can do that, the better. Schweinhaus Biergarten gives us simple food done well, along with a different beer selection than you’ll find anywhere else—all in a convenient, walk-to downtown location. Plus, they’re almost always open. As the great-granddaughter of the proprietor of Schmidt Brothers Beer Garden, I’m happy to see Schweinhaus Biergarten arrive on the Bellingham beer scene! Check it out, and you’ll be happy, too.
Schweinhaus Biergarten, 1330 N. State Street, Bellingham, WA
(on the corner of State and Magnolia Streets)
Open 7 days a week, 11:00 a.m. – midnight(ish)