Bar Beat

Celebrate Oktoberfest Like the Germans Do at King's Biergarten -- With Beer

When it comes to German beer on draft, there are two places to beat in Houston -- even if one of them is technically in Pearland.

Closer to the heart of the city, Midtown's Bar Munich has an impressive array of taps that includes all six varieties of Hofbräu München (including their Oktoberfest brew right now) as well as a rotating selection of German beers such as Bitburger, König Pilsener, Warsteiner Dunkel and good old Spaten.

And although it's a bit of a drive for a lot of Houstonians, my favorite place for a German beer is still King's Biergarten off Broadway in Pearland -- also the subject of this week's cafe review.

King's has 11 beers on draft, most German. Just like at Bar Munich, the beers are served in liters (pictured below) or the more manageable half-liters. And although there are a few bottled beers, they're pretty boring stuff. The interesting beers are on tap here.

There's the hard-to-find Franconia (both Kolsch and Oktoberfest) from McKinney, which are fantastic Texas-brewed German beers. There are lagers from Prague and Salzburg -- the Czech Staropramen and the Austrian Stiegl -- and there are more familiar options like Spaten Dunkel and Optimator. There's the famous Krombacher Pilsner -- the most consumed beer in Germany -- and there are more off-the-beaten-path selections like my current favorite, Stiegl Raddler.

Although it's no longer summer -- the ideal time to enjoy the light, grapefruit-tinged Raddler -- it's presently perfect patio weather in Houston (and still muggy enough to enjoy drinking the summery Raddler). Which is coincidentally the best time to visit King's Biergarten. The actual biergarten itself overlooks a pretty bayou by day and hosts polka bands and other Oktoberfest activities at night.

One such activity is the Bavarian strongman competition on Monday nights, where people compete to see who can hold a liter of beer aloft the longest. I could barely make it past 30 seconds when I tried this little test on my own. But that's not even the largest beer King's sells.

You can also try Das Boot, which Beerfest fans may remember as the final stage of the international drinking competition. The $35 drink holds three liters of beer and comes in a stein shaped like -- what else? -- a boot.

Much more my speed, however, is the flight option: Four beers in miniature steins for only $6. Easier on the stomach and the wallet, which leaves more room for King's excellent schnitzel at dinner.

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Katharine Shilcutt