What: Bohemian Biergarten
When: 11 a.m.--2 a.m. Monday-Sunday; happy hour, 3-6 p.m. daily
Where: 2017 13th St., Boulder
Info: 720-328-8328 or bohemianbiergarten.com
Settling in at one of the long, communal tables at Bohemian Biergarten with a liter of Pilsner Urquell and a steaming bratwurst with house-made sauerkraut and spicy mustard on the side feels like taking a mini-Bavarian vacation. In fact, the authentic European beer-hall vibe is so complete it's easy to forget that the bustle of Pearl Street Mall is only a few steps away.
Owner Zdenek Srom, who was raised in the Czech Republic and has lived in Boulder for the past 14 years, said that's just what he envisioned when he opened Bohemian Biergarten earlier this year.
"There was a missing piece in Boulder, and that was a true pub where people can come and socialize," Srom said. "I wanted to create someplace that, when you come here, you feel like you've stepped outside of the city, if only for a short while."
Srom modeled Bohemian Biergarten after traditional European beer halls like those found in Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic and Hungary, with traditional fare such as homemade sausages and pierogies, a beer list heavy on imported European pilsners, a small stage in the back for live entertainment and communal tables that invite patrons to squeeze in next to a stranger and strike up a conversation.
The space, which was formerly home to Shug's, the b.side Lounge and Trilogy Wine Bar, has undergone a radical transformation. Stripping away the drywall revealed handsome wood paneling on the walls, and the soaring ceiling, with its stately wooden rafters, was likewise obscured by a drop ceiling, which Srom also removed. The bar railing is from Denver, circa 1918, the antique lighting was salvaged from a factory in Manhattan and many other antiques are used throughout to complete the look.
"There's a lot of history here," Srom said.
That old-world feel also extends to the beer list. The draft lines are mostly dedicated to European imports served in either half- or full-liter steins, including Warsteiner Premium Dunkel, Paulaner Hefe-Weizen, Stiegl from Austria, beers from Staropramen Brewery in Prague and, of course, the original pilsner-style beer, Pilsner Urquell from the town of Pilsner in the Czech Republic.
"That's my beer," Srom said.
In fact, Srom said, Bohemian Biergarten recently became the United States' No. 1 seller of Pilsner Urquell when he bought all the available kegs he could and momentarily created a nationwide shortage, although he expects that the 2,000-seat Radegast Hall & Biergarten in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, N.Y., which is owned and operated by friends of Srom, will soon claim that distinction.
"Thanks to Boulder we became No. 1 for a moment," he said.
A few local selections are also represented on the beer list, including European-inspired beers from Denver's Prost Brewing Co. and, in a nod to both nostalgia and die-hard hop heads, Trilogy IPA from Shine Restaurant & Gathering Place, located next door. Srom is also adding two new tap lines -- one for a traditional European cider and another for Kronenbourg 1664.
Each beer is served in proper glassware, and most are lower in alcohol so you can enjoy a liter or two over some friendly conversation without getting schnockered.
"Although if you have a few shots of Slivovitz, that's another story," Srom said, referring to the traditional plum brandy popular throughout Central and Eastern Europe.
Well, when in Rome ...
Contact Tom Wilmes at email@example.com.