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Feb 22, 2008 08:46 AM

We Need a Bier Garten In This Town

So I understand that Ludwig’s Garten (near 13th & Sansom) has closed. I’m not surprised. I’d had MANY fun nights there, but it had been a while (like since the turn of the century).
I recall two pretty miserable incidents there, one involving me and the other another customer. My story goes like this:
Ludwig’s has (had) an extensive bottle list which I generally perused for new stuff. After doing so I tell the bartender which one I’d like. She immediately tells me that they don’t have it. So I look again and select another bottle and tell the bartender. And she again immediately tells me that they don’t have it. Now I’m curious because in the past the bartenders have generally looked inside the multiple refrigerators for the beer that you’ve ordered first before letting you know whether they had it or not. But I figured maybe she knew beforehand. So I make a third selection and as you might guess, again she immediately answers “we don’t have it”. Frustrated, I asked “So ok, what exactly DO you have in bottles?!” Surprisingly she pauses and then says “let me check” and rushes off with a deflated posture. And in about two minutes she returned with my third choice.
The other unfortunate incident, I overheard while seated at a booth with my son. I couple (tourists no less) have a seat at the bar. The bartender (someone different) approaches the couple and I hear her tell them what they had available on draft. The gentlemen then asked about a beer that was apparently not available on draft. The bartender unbelievably responds “like I already told you, these {pointing at beer board} are all that we have on draft” in a belligerent tone. She then immediately marched away.
As for the good times it was mostly about the beer (their food was always marginal). I recall Samichlaus being on draft for over a year straight; from winter through spring, summer, fall, and the winter again. I also recall four Paulaner beers being available on draft at the same time fairly often: Oktober, Pils, Hefe Weizen, and Doppelbock. And in their day their bottle list was second only to Monk’s. The people who hung out there were cool too. A blend of American Europhiles who couldn’t stop telling stories about the trip abroad when they’d been first introduced to the particular beer they happened to be drinking, and your noisy fraternity types who think German culture is comprised completely of overindulging in beer (but it was “all good” though).
So I say all that to say, where is our Bier Garten in Philly now? I understand the Ludwig’s will be turned into a quasi Belgian place. With our local German brewing heritage, which is highly reflected in the number of regional breweries that make fantastic lager, why are we known only as “Brussels on the Schuylkill”?


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  1. Brauhaus Schmitz opening June 15th on South Street. Nice.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Chinon00

      Looking forward to it.

      Also, appreciate and agree with your write up above. Ludwig's really had its moments like World Cup Soccer at 7am where the place was packed and beer was handed out for free, but it just became too threadbare by the end.

      I seem to recall one matronly bartender who was really fantastic. I remember her trying to get me to eat some pretzels and little bits of food to keep up my strength one day when I was drowning my sorrows at the bar. It was a much appreciated gesture.

      1. re: Boognish

        i have been out of town for a couple months now, but when i left there was construction being done next to silk city at 5th and spring garden and the rumor at the time was that mark bee was to be opening a beer garden. any truth to that / has anything come of it?
        and tho not a beer garden, supposedly the new yards site has opened for tours too? (i seem to have found my way onto their email list) has anyone been? goodness, i missssssss philly beer.

        1. re: rabidog

          Construction is done, and the Silk City beer garden opened last month.

          1. re: Ali

            I surfed the net and it looks pretty cool. There is no German theme to the beer or atmosphere in general right?


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