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Appetite: Lift a Stein for Village Brauhaus’ First Year in Alexandria
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Appetite: Lift a Stein for Village Brauhaus’ First Year in Alexandria

Every 1-year-old deserves a birthday party – but most of them don’t celebrate with beer on tap.

Village Brauhaus’ chronological age may keep it under the legal drinking age, but no matter; on Saturday, the German-style beer hall is bucking that trend, celebrating its first year in business with a party that could rival Oktoberfest. From live music to lots of food, Jagermeister shots and even the tapping of a new Vienna lager, the Old Town restaurant is ready to lift a glass indeed.

“People are already expressing a lot of interest,” said Bill Gross who with his wife, Chelsea, owns Village Brauhaus. “We’ve gotten over 200 phone calls and messages regarding times and things like that.”

The festivities start when the restaurant opens at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, and as the day rolls on, the music picks up and the fun really begins. The Johnny Koenig Band will play first at 3 p.m., followed by Love Music Again at 9 p.m. And the food and drink will be served up plentifully all day.

Village Brauhaus’ bread and butter – so to speak – is its array of sausages and schnitzels, and both will be in great supply throughout the celebration. Jagermeister will be on hand with giveaways and swag – think shirts, hats and shots – to help patrons wash everything down.

At about 4 p.m., one of the day’s crowning moments begins: The debut of a new beer straight from the Motherland.

“We are looking to premiere a brand-new beer – the beer is called Ottakringer – based in Vienna (Austria), and it will be the first time a Vienna lager is going to be released in the United States that’s actually from Vienna,” Gross said.

Ottakringer’s approval just passed the Virginia ABC this week, and the beer is en route for Saturday’s event.

“We put out invitations to the Austrian Embassy in D.C.,” Gross added.

The past year has brought its share of challenges alongside the triumphs, Gross said, from its successful launch just before last year’s Irish Parade through the Metro shutdown and out the other side.

“We’ve had tough moments; last summer with the Metro shutdown, being a new business and opening, we basically got two months of regular business before the Metro shutdown and we did notice a decline over the summer,” Gross said.

But the Metro reopened, the patrons came back, and before long, Oktoberfest was in sight. Then came the holidays, and then the new year …and just like that, Village Brauhaus has hit the year mark.

And it’s not stopping with this weekend’s anniversary party. Up next, from Feb. 23-25, is Fasching, the German-Austrian Mardi Gras celebration, complete with German-style Hurricanes and traditional German Berliner doughnuts made in-house. Then comes another visit from the Irish parade – the beer hall will be taking on an Irish flair for that – and then Starkbierfest, a celebration of Germany’s best dark beers that begins on March 13 and extends through April.

But before that comes Saturday, when patrons can say a hearty “Prost!” and lift a glass to Village Brauhaus’ first year.

IF YOU GO

Village Brauhaus’ anniversary celebration

Where: 710 King St., Alexandria

When: Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m.

Pro Tip: Get there early. While the restaurant is taking limited reservations, “it’s going to be more of a first-come, first-served basis,” co-owner Bill Gross said.

Hope Nelson is the author of “Classic Restaurants of Alexandria” and owns the Kitchen Recessionista blog, located at www.kitchenrecessionista.com. Email her any time at hope@kitchenrecessionista.com.