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In many ways, the Old German Beer Hall harkens back to an earlier day in the city, when people from all walks of life came to a tavern for a cold glass of beer.
The times are much different, but beer is the focus of OGBH, 1009 N. Old World 3rd St., and Greg Brundage is the man pouring it.
Unlike other bars, which have a cavalcade of choices available, the Beer Hall keeps it simple. It has five tap beers, all of them flavors from the German brewer Hofbrau Munich. To be fair, you can get yourself a mixed drink or even a bottle of Miller Lite, but the bar lives up to its name.
Brundage had more than a decade of experience when he took the job a little more than two years ago. But what he knew about tending bar pretty much went out the window when he started pouring liters of beer on a regular basis.
His bar is a melting pot of customers. The Beer Hall draws in crowds of business people for happy hour, which mix in with the college crowd, which mixes in with the post-game crowds following events at the Bradley Center and U.S. Cellular Arena. On top of that are the occasional groups of Germans, clad in lederhosen and dirndls who know a thing or two about beer.
OnMilwaukee.com: How long have you tended bar?
Greg Brundage: I've been doing this, in one way or and other, off and on for about 13 years. I've bartended at Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Third Street Pier, Winchesters, P.F. Chang's and so on.
OMC: How did you end up behind the bar at OGBH?
GB: Strangely enough, I used to be the general manager's boss 10 years ago. Josh (Neureuther) and I have been friends ever since. When I heard he was finally opening his dream bar, I gave him a phone call. That was two years ago, and I've been here since.
OMC: The Beer Hall, obviously, focuses on beer. Do you get a lot of requests for other drinks?
GB: Not so much anymore. We serve approximately 90 percent tap beer and for a good reason! Hofbrau is the largest beer hall in Germany. Our customers recognize the name and the quality when they taste it.
OMC: What's your signature drink?
GB: A fine and properly-poured liter of German beer. It's not as easy as you would think. There has to be just the right amount of foam to it.
OMC: Do you have a favorite drink to make?
GB: I think I already answered that question??
OMC: What's the most ridiculous thing you've ever seen a bar patron do?
GB: When we opened, there was somewhat of a learning curve with regards to the alcohol content of the beer. I had a gentleman drink his third liter of Maibock (a seasonal beer that has almost six percent alcohol) in under an hour. Let's just say his friends had to change his pants after they carried him home.
OMC: Have you ever had to break up any bar fights?
GB: We don't get too many fights in here, but there are always occasions. Chuck Norris would be jealous of my skills.
OMC: Have you ever been seriously injured?
GB: Only my knuckles ... No, I've been lucky, I've never ended up on that end of a fight.
OMC: What do you like most about the job?
GB: The Beer Hall brings in a lot of different crowds; college kids, old Germans, people going to the theater, people coming from games. It's a really wide mix. I get to experience Milwaukee's finest in their finest state.
OMC: What's your least-favorite part of being behind the bar?
GB: I hate when college girls come in and order some ridiculous shot that one of their friends made up. You know, they've been drinking all day and they just decided it would be a good idea to mix something up and give it a name. Then, when they ask you to make it and you have no idea what it is, they act like you are an idiot because you never heard of it. I mean come on!