Good beer is a topic that I can go on about at some length. I get strangely excited about topics like wild yeast strains, hop-infusing machines and good old-fashioned quality brewing. As a homebrewer myself, I can appreciate the pursuit of excellence in creating craft beers, and I'm always eager to sample the efforts of local brewers, both small and smaller.
And so it came that I learned about Lagerhaus, a small brew pub in Palm Harbor. Lagerhaus has been around for two years now, and it boasts a large menu and a great selection of beers, many of them brewed on the premises. But Lagerhaus has a unique feel. This is likely a result of the influence of its Austrian proprietor, Franz Rothschadl, who claims an impressive family tradition of brewing, all the way back to the 15th century. This lends a bit of authenticity to the Lagerhaus, where you can enjoy your beers in European measurements — half-liter, liter and the old favorite: a large glass boot.
So how about the beer? The brewery offers an impressive seven standard brews, 17 seasonally available variants, and one craft-brewed root beer. These range from classics like hefeweizen, pale ale and Belgian triple to newer takes on old styles, such as the wild berry lambic, which clocks in at an alarming 12 percent alcohol by volume, and the extremely high-gravity (brewer's lingo for really, really strong) 44 Magnum, which hits the ceiling at 22 percent.
The beer itself is excellent. A sampler containing seven in-house brews gave me an idea of what Lagerhaus is all about, and I wasn't disappointed. The lagers were crisp, the hefeweizen full of character, the pale ale balanced and flavorful, the lambics tart and complex, and so on. Not all of the beers available are Lagerhaus exclusives, either — fine craft brews from across the world are offered, and they even stock "microbrewed" sodas by Boylan, a brand of quality non-alcoholic beverages like red birch beer and creme soda.
Lagerhaus also serves a number of what they call "spirited" and "specialty" mixes, which contain beer with other mixes, giving options to the cocktail fan who may be surprised to learn Lagerhaus doesn't serve liquor.
There's a simple premise at work here — make good beer, give people a comfortable, relaxed bar to enjoy it in, and they will come. And it seems to be working, as the bar was populated with enthusiastic regulars well into the closing hours. The service was also excellent.
Make no mistake, beer enthusiasts, especially those with a bit of extra brewing knowledge, will get the most out their trip to Lagerhaus. Some of the subtleties may go over the heads of recreational beer drinkers, but absolutely anyone who enjoys great, authentically made beer will find Lagerhaus a fantastic destination.
Times correspondent Justin Grant can be reached at [email protected]