I was a little uncertain when I received an invitation to the opening of Hophaus at Southgate. Firstly, I don’t drink beer. Invite me to the launch of a wine bar and I’m there but ask me to write about 30 specialty European beers on tap and I can’t help you. Secondly, I’m not quite sold on German food. My most recent experience had me picking at a giant pickled pork hock trying to find the flesh amongst a layer of congealing fat and a side of soggy sauerkraut. But when I checked out the menu at Hophaus I was impressed and little bit intrigued. “Innovative” German fare they say – think pan steamed mussels with dark bier and rye bread, or smoked and slow cooked pulled pork on a salt dough stick with salted “piggy” crackle and apple mayonnaise. On paper it sounded too good to miss, and the man in my life loves a good European beer, so we made a night of it and headed to Hophaus to try the offerings
Walking into Hophaus was unlike walking into other German bier halls in Australia. Gone are the kitschy Euro-themed decorations and ladies with their bosoms bursting from traditional style German dress. Instead, a warm almost contemporary fit-out sees big communal tables and colourful polychrome glazed bricks taking centre stage. It still has that old style European beer hall feel with warm wooden finishes and expansive communal spaces but with a bit of a Melbourne city update.
The food was plentiful if you were standing by the kitchen (good move by us) and the barbecued meats were by far the high point of the night. Gorgeous hunks of beef, pork and a couple of whole chickens were cooked over glowing hot coals right in front of our eyes – the meat glistening with fat and juices.
The succulent beef brisket was superbly tender with a wonderful char-grilled smokey flavour while still maintaining its moistness and a pretty blush of pink. The roast pork was equally luscious – with the flesh soft and plump and a salty layer of crunchy fat.
We were also served a selection of mini-morsels from the kitchen. Mini kranskys came out sprinkled with sauerkraut and were firm and tasty. Chicken drummettes wooed us with their crunchy skin and satisfying hit of salt. We were a little under-whelmed by the angus burgers though. With not quite enough flavour or excitement they left us looking for the waiter with the next plate of food.
With over 30 draught taps around the central bar and a selection of German, Australian, Belgian and Czech brews on offer, I’m sure the beer selection would suit those so inclined. I am told that feature beers at Hophaus will change regularly and some of Germany’s and Europe’s oldest and most loved brews will be available on tap, including beers from the famed Weihenstephan (the world’s oldest brewery), Paulaner, Franziskaner and Bitburger breweries.
Even though beer drinking and German food is not really my thing I loved Hophaus. With interesting and delicious food offerings and an expansive outdoor balcony this is much more than just a beer and pretzels sort of place (thankfully). I can see that come summer Hophaus will be a fantastic place for outdoor good times – even for those drinking bubbly instead of beer :).
My Fair Melbourne was invited to the launch of Hophaus as a guest.