My feet have tromped around on German pavement for a grand total of 56 hours, eight of which I remember clearly. The rest lingers as a beautiful haze of voluptuous, pigtailed barmaids, pretzels the size of a cocker spaniel, hoards of teetering Italian men, and of course, bier. Liters of it.
When I caught wind of a new German pub opening on N. Mississippi Ave, the above mentioned snippets came flooding back. A void expanded in my belly, one that could only be filled by a stein of golden Hofbrau lager, foam bubbling over the lip and slipping down the sides.
Prost!—even on a drizzly evening—warms the corner of Skidmore and Mississippi with its apricot hue and gumball-shaped lights rimming the windows. Inside, it feels like a neighborhood mainstay, relaxed, cheery and filled to a snug capacity.
Yet, the pub’s only been open for a week. It appears managing owner Dan Hart was spot-on in choosing the digs for his and business partner Chris Navarra’s first German bar in Portland. Beyond locale, Prost! has over two handfuls of German bier on tap, like the airy wheat ale, Franziskaner Weissbier and the nutty malt, Paulaner Oktoberfest, served in traditional glassware and volume (.3L, .5L, 1.0 L).
I found it (beyond helpful) a nice touch that each beer was served in a glass that suited its personality. The Franziskaner Weissbier, described as crisp ale with subtle clove aroma, came in a tall, slender glass, while the Spaten Optimator, a 7.5% dark, malt beer was served in a short, hefty glass.
Hart’s roaming the bar tonight, schmoozing the crowd and throwing back a couple of .5 liters, himself. Glass tinkles and conversation pauses. On top of the one-week anniversary, it’s Hart’s 30th birthday, which means, after he blows out the candles on his ultra-rich chocolate cake, he’ll have to chug das boot—yup, that 2.0L boot-shaped glass made famous by Jay Chandrasekhar’s Beerfest (2006). And yes, it does bubble.
People are having a good time. As the night deepens, more rowdy foursomes order the boot just to see if they can handle it. They spin, they gulp, and they celebrate, ripping off their actual shoes to compare sizes. Wurst sampler platters begin streaming from the kitchen, and for the first time, I notice the massive jars of sauerkraut stacked behind the bar.
At one point, a diagonally poised guy sitting next to me takes his half-empty stein and cheers my kneecap. “Prost!” he mumbles, slamming his beer back onto the table.
Now, that cluster of food carts behind Prost! just needs to start handing out brats with rye and giant pretzels, and I think Portland’s got it.