With a population comprised mostly of day-trippers, folk musicians, and the selectively employed, Boulder's Pearl Street Mall is a fertile breeding ground for good happy hours. Even before a discounted menu became practically mandatory in Colorado restaurants, a veritable Murderer's Row of legendary happy hours on Walnut Street -- those at The Med, Brasserie Ten Ten, and the Rio Grande--set a high standard for nosh and booze.
Just a couple blocks away, the Bohemian Biergarten has been building a reputation as a hep late night hangout, where music, comedy, karaoke and trivia fuel Boulderites starved for activity after 11:00. But can a midday happy hour meal bring the same kind of wacky energy?
The walls of the Biergarten are suitably tarnished and emblazoned with German slogans and other signifiers of Teutonic attitude, while a man-sized chalkboard lists the beers on tap. The Czech Republic-raised owner of Bohemian Biergarten, Zdenek Srom, opened the place on 13th and Pearl last year and successfully captured the Central European spirit of food and drink. Heavy on imports and all things bock and weizen, the true star of the beer list may be Pilsner Urquell, the original Czech pilsner that's attracted a cult following in the States. When the Biergarten opened, Srom bought every Urquell keg he could, creating a national shortage. That's the sort of play that tends to get props from beer nerds.
I was feeling something stronger, so I went with a maibock from Prost Brewing ($5 at happy hour), a beer true to the Fatherland with a touch of hops and spice. Bohemian Biergarten's happy hour is a two-fisted delight: from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and all day Monday and Sunday, a hefty half-liter of draft beer with a sausage or small plate is just $10. I was presented with a plate of spinach and feta pierogi that could have used more tang from the cheese and the fluorescent dipping sauce. Still, the boiled dough wrappers have the fresh gluteny taste that's more babushka than Mrs. T.
Clearly I hadn't had enough flour in my life recently, so I snagged the restaurant's signature giant pretzel ($6). This carb bomb is resplendent in crispy dark brown skin -- the kitchen dips their pretzels in lye water to get that perfect crust -- and comes with three house mustards, of which the Heaven is the tastiest and most aptly named.
If you want in on the real action at the Biergarten, don't go at 4 p.m. to take awkward bites off a giant pretzel. Reports from the front lines of the Boulder party scene say that the joint is especially jumping when live music is going on. But for a snack and a mug of good German brew, the Biergarten is a fountain of delight in a city that's still devoted to healthy living.
Perfect for: Groups of girlfriends who enjoy red meat, 80s music, and singing drunken karaoke.
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Can't Miss: It seems spine-tinglingly wrong to dine at Bohemian Biergarten without a beer in your hand. Half-liters and liters of beer are $5 and $9 respectively, but on Tuesdays a whole boot of beer (2 liters) is available for $8. Zum wohl, freund!