Beer Corner, U.S.A.

Food and brew at 36th and Farnam make bar flies crawl

The Crescent Moon has not only been Omaha’s specialty beer institution for the last 11 years, it’s the anchor that is known as Beer Corner U.S.A., a cluster of local brew-focused businesses committed to providing the metro with one of, if not the, most diverse selections of quality suds. And if your mother always told you not to drink on an empty stomach, don’t worry. Beer Corner U.S.A. has perfected pub food, too, including an authentic German menu to match the Bavarian biers. A sublime drinking experience begins at the original business, the Crescent Moon Alehouse located on the northeast corner of 36th and Farnam. Inside the door is a warm, friendly bar with wood paneling, dark blue paint and, of course, paraphernalia from various breweries decorating the walls. The Crescent Moon specializes in micro and craft brews from around the world, but especially from these great United States. If you’re overwhelmed by the extensive beer menu, don’t be afraid to ask the staff for help. All of the workers are highly trained in the products offered. Sure, the bartenders will serve you a Miller Lite with only the hint of a side-eye when they’d rather suggest the latest seasonal ale from Weyerbacher. The change of seasons always means a change in the beer menu, too, so it’s important to stop in frequently. The beer you loved in September may not be available in March. The menu is the very definition of pub food, from burgers and sandwiches to wings and soups. Anything fried, such as the chicken strips or the Chicken Ranch Sandwich, redefine “golden brown.” Even though a large part of the menu is composed of things that can be frozen and assembled to order, this fact will be lost because the Crescent Moon kitchen can fry a piece of chicken that tastes like new. The Twice-baked Potato Soup is nothing short of fabulous. Compare it to, for example, the baked potato soup at Charleston’s. Like Charleston’s, The Moon’s twice-baked potato soup is thicker, full of chunks of potato, and garnished with bacon and cheese, but is a portion of the cost. The Inferno Wings live up to their name, and the same kickin’ sauce is used for the Buffalo Chicken Salad. Directly downstairs from the Crescent Moon is this writer’s favorite nook of Beer Corner — the Huber Haus. It’s decorated in the style of the traditional bier hall with long wood tables, deer and boar heads mounted on the walls, and of course, wood paneling. Huber Haus carries some Bavarian brews not available upstairs in the Moon. It’s also the home of Das Boot, whose popularity obviously exploded after the movie Beerfest. There are rules with Das Boot, though, so don’t expect to waltz in and order one without being read the complete list of stipulations. The Huber Haus has its own menu, and you have to be in the Bier Hall to order some of the traditional German fare offered. Most offerings are made from pork, of course, and include Black Forest ham, schnitzel or sausage. The jaeger schnitzel is a tenderized pork loin and, like many items upstairs, breaded and fried to perfection. Then, it’s smothered in a savory brown gravy, a delicious and authentic German experience. The schnitzel also comes in sandwich form on a Kaiser roll with horseradish sauce. If you’ve filled up on the rich German bier, you may want to order from the Vorspeisen and Brotzeit (appetizers and snacks) menu. The Huber Haus crafted its own special, fried, German-inspired “Haus Bites.” Choose from Reuben or Brat-n-Kraut filling fried in a pastry crust. The Reuben bites are too tangy for the delicate dough and don’t make for a cohesive palate, though. Luckily, the Haus has imported Bavarian pretzels for a tastier carb option. Back on the top floor, next to the Crescent Moon, is the newest bar in Beer Corner, Max & Joe’s. The beers here are Belgian, which means that they may be stronger than the average beer drinker is used to. Be sure to read the beer menu because it will list the percent of alcohol by volume. Many of the German beers in the Huber Haus are brewed to a centuries-old purity law, which limits the ingredients used, and even those that aren’t still use only a few ingredients. The Belgians have no such law, and no reservations about what should or could be used to make beer. This can lead to some of the Belgian beers being thick, mealy and even odd tasting. Be sure to request a sample before committing to a whole pint, especially when considering one of the darker beers. Max & Joe’s may one day offer its own Belgian-inspired snack menu, including a small, grilled ham and cheese sandwich, and a plate of seasonal fruit with cheeses and Belgian chocolates, but that menu isn’t ready and has no date set for a debut. For now, Max & Joe’s simply offers the best fried potatoes known to man. They’re called pommes frites, and are served with your choice of two of six dipping sauces, including a creamy honey mustard and a fiery sriracha ketchup. Beer Corner U.S.A. is finished off with Beertopia, located next to Max & Joe’s and billings itself as “Omaha’s ultimate beer store.” Let’s just say you won’t be able to find a majority of the six-packs in stock at Hy-Vee. Beer Corner U.S.A. is one of the few places in Omaha where you can get a meal and a beer for under $20. Daily specials are available Monday through Saturday (the days the Moon, Huber and Max & Joe’s are open). Next month, Beer Corner will be throwing one of its many festivals, the outdoor Bockfest, back for its sixth year. The party starts at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 26, moves inside at 7 p.m. and then continues until closing time (2 a.m.). The Barry Boyce Band and the Jaeger Girls will be on hand along with traditional bock bier. Also look for the Crescent Moon’s annual Mardi Gras party on March 8. The Crescent Moon Alehouse, The Huber-Haus, Max & Joe’s and Beertopia are all located at 36th and Farnam. Hours of operation are as follows: The Crescent Moon 11 a.m.-2 a.m. (closed Sundays), The Huber Haus 5 p.m.-2 a.m. (closed Sundays), Max & Joes 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Beertopia is open Mon.-Thurs. 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. and Sunday noon-5 p.m. For more information, visit beercornerusa.com.

posted at 12:31 pm
on Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

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