Sunday, May 27, 2001

Imported beer returns as German Day favorite

By Ed Westemeier

        Many German-Americans will celebrate German Day next Sunday at Kolping Park in Mount Healthy. There's one thing you can be sure of at a German celebration: Warsteiner beer. It's usually the beer of choice at these gatherings, and with some justification.

        Warsteiner is the largest privately owned brewery in Germany, having been in the hands of the Cramer family for many generations. Of course, size alone doesn't make for great beer, as anyone who has tried the products of American mega-breweries can attest.

        Warsteiner is certainly a good, drinkable beer, and I give the owners high marks for trying to get it in the consumer's hands as fresh as possible. The brewery's newest entry, Warsteiner Dunkel, is undoubtedly one of the better German dark beers.

        Warsteiner's latest innovationan an enclosed six-pack carrier, is a winner, too. The wrap-around cardboard does a good job of protecting the beer from exposure to damaging light, so I haven't detected that old skunky aroma from a Warsteiner in some time.

        Much credit for all this goes to Greg Hardman, president of Warsteiner Importers Agency in West Chester Township, who worked hard to convince the German brewery this would work in the U.S. market.

Local German treasure

        If, like me, you prefer traditional German beer in draft form, you should know about the Steinkeller in Oxford. Just 20 miles outside I-275 is one of the most delightful bits of Germany I've found in this country. The Steinkeller (“steinkeller” means “stone cellar” in German) is a small pub that's authentically German. Walk down the steps to the lower level of the Minnis building, past the German murals, and you might think you're in Bavaria.

        On my last visit, 13 of the 20 draft beer taps were devoted to top quality German brews. Three more were English or Irish ales, and the rest were the standard light beers. This variety is rare, and every beer I've sampled at the Steinkeller was fresh and delicious. What's more, they're served properly.

        If you want, for example, a Paulaner Hefeweizen, you'll get this delightful wheat beer in the traditional tall glass. Not only that, but the bartender is savvy enough to ask if you want a lemon slice, instead of automatically sticking one in, to the dismay of weissbier purists.

        Among the Steinkeller's offerings is an unusual treat. You can order your beer in a “mass”, (pronounced mahss), a tall, dimpled glass mug that holds a full liter — just over two pints. This gives you more of the feeling you're in a real German beer hall.

Stop by when in Oxford

        Owner Todd Hollenbaugh is a former resident of Bonn, and a frequent visitor to Germany. He has a great feel for both the beers and the atmosphere of that country. You can scan the beer list on the full menu and learn a bit about each beer on tap.

        The Steinkeller has been open less than a year, but has established itself as a premier pub with a loyal clientele, as much for the good food as the diverse selection of great imported beers. I highly recommend a visit the Steinkeller at 15 E. High St. It's open 11 a.m.-2:30 a.m. Monday-Saturday and noon-2:30 a.m. Sunday (513-524-2437).

        Contact Ed Westemeier by e-mail:


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