As the cool fall weather rolls in and restrictions on indoor dining continue to be extended, a beer and a meal outdoors remains one of the simple pleasures still available in 2020.
Under state guidelines, breweries and beer bars can only serve beer on premises if it is accompanied by a “bona fide meal,” so locations that have a kitchen on-site have had a distinct advantage in remaining open, though many small breweries have had success with food truck partnerships to provide meals during the pandemic.
One of my regular stops during the last several months has been Freewheel Brewing Co. in Redwood City, near the Menlo Park border. With excellent burgers (I recommend the Hawaiian burger with pineapple, teriyaki and chipotle mayo), salads, hot wings and British pub classics such as bangers and mash and fish and chips, the menu has something for everyone. While Freewheel is known for its British-style cask-conditioned ales, it also recently offered a trio of tasty German beers for Oktoberfest, including the crisp Sip In Place Pils, the lightly tart Should I Stay or Should I Gose and the refreshing Hound Dog Hefeweizen.
In addition to offering both food and growlers to go, Freewheel has a large outdoor patio area, with tables frequently cleaned and sanitized by staff, to enjoy your food and beer with those in your bubble while remaining physically distant from others.
A contemporary take on a traditional German beer hall, Steins Beer Garden in Mountain View has a spacious, partially covered outdoor patio with numerous long, communal tables with bench seating. It serves a carefully curated tap list of 30-plus brews, including both German favorites and American craft beers.
The food menu includes upscale versions of comfort food staples such as chicken strips, pulled pork sliders, mac & cheese, salads and burgers, and an “add on” menu that allows diners to add goodies such as bourbon jalapenos, grilled onions, a fried egg, pulled pork or a number of different cheeses to any entrée. The current menu includes Oktoberfest specials like currywurst, pork schnitzel and German-style beef stew, and a weekend brunch menu is available as well. Enjoy a Liquifaction Kolsch-style ale from Santa Rosa’s Seismic Brewing Co. or an N120 Bohemian Pilsner from Camino Brewing Co. in San Jose with some buttermilk-marinated chicken strips with three house-made hot sauces.
Gourmet Haus Staudt
Located in downtown Redwood City, Gourmet Haus Staudt has been owned and operated by the Staudt family since 1975. Over that time, it has expanded from a flower shop to a German gift shop to a full-fledged restaurant and biergarten. While it has always had a cozy outdoor patio in the back, Gourmet Haus Staudt has temporarily extended its outdoor space into a covered tent in the parking lot to provide more room for a safe outdoor drinking and dining experience.
Its food menu includes German classics such as the Bavarian pretzel with salami and cheese, five different styles of traditional bratwursts, potato pancakes and pork schnitzel. As you might expect, Gourmet Haus Staudt has about a dozen German brews on tap, but it also serves a diverse lineup of American craft brews. Along with your pretzel and sausages, you can enjoy anything from Lost Wisdom, a funky dry-hopped saison from San Francisco’s Cellarmaker Brewing Co. to Never Mind the Beer Here’s the Milkshake Triple New England IPA from Monterey’s Alvarado Street Brewery and Pera del Sol, a crisp, acidic apple-pear cider from Mission-Trail Ranches in Bradley.
Derek Wolfgram is a Certified Beer Judge through the Beer Judge Certification Program and an officer of the Silicon Valley Sudzers homebrew club. For more information, visit sudzers.org.