With October looming, McKraut's will be rocking on Saturdays during the entire month.
Warum? (That's German for "Why?") To celebrate Germany's Oktoberfest tradition, which started in 1810 in Munich to celebrate the marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to the Saxon-Hildburghausen Princess Therese.
The main draw of the original Oktoberfest was a horse race. By 1896, though, the main attraction had become beer – lots of beer, too, served up in beer halls initially. These days, the event is celebrated in beer halls and under tents throughout the German city and beyond.
One website dedicated to all things Oktoberfest says today the party in Munich is the world's largest beer festival, and that it attracts more than 6 million people annually who consume 1.5 million gallons of beer, 200,000 pairs of pork sausage and 480,000 spit-roasted chickens during the more than two-week extravaganza.
As luck would have it, Guam residents can head to McKraut's anytime for some of those fine German delicacies. For Oktoberfest celebrations each Saturday throughout the month, however, there will also be beer wagons, live music and locals donning lederhosen.
McKraut's serves lots of fine beers, too, some of which you might be surprised to find outside of Germany, let alone on Guam.
From hot dog stand to restaurant standout
Initially a simple hot dog stand, McKraut's is the brainchild of proprietor and native German Ludwig Uhmeyer and his Chuukese girlfriend Rinako Opich, who Uhmeyer credits with helping shape the restaurant into what it is today.
The restaurant's interior now resembles a typical restaurant and bar, with obvious German influences everywhere you look, especially on the menu.
The cuckoo clocks on the wall as you enter add an especially nice touch, and out back – where much of the Oktoberfest action will take place – Uhmeyer has made it look like the inside of a German beer hall.
Uhmeyer, known to friends and restaurant regulars as Lutz, is a Germany-trained chef who likes to joke that he ended up on Guam looking for adventure, initially working at some of the island's larger hotels.
"I also like to tell people that I was drunk in San Francisco at the airport and got on the wrong airplane," he says, with a hearty laugh through his thick German accent.
California – specifically San Diego – is still where he sources his bratwursts and sausages, he says.
When The Guam Daily Post visited McKraut's recently, Lutz was manning the bar, taking orders and delivering food to tables, and later joked and debated with us whether he should take a shower or not, since he was going to appear on video.
Lutz started out, and still works as, an importer of "fine quality beer and wine," mostly from Germany, under the company Hansa Import. He started the operation in 1994, and still supplies Guam bars and restaurants with these items. Today, he has expanded to serve beers from elsewhere in Europe and even the states.
Some of the beers are even served out of their own special glassware, and patrons are offered any of the 13 beers he has on draft in 250, 500 or 1,000 mL mugs.
The 1,000 mL beers come in stein glasses made famous in Germany by people clinking them together as hard as they can without the glassware breaking.
Out back, visible remnants of the importing business are in plain view in the form of used shipping containers. His residence is there, too, as are swing sets and things for kids to enjoy on the expansive grounds.
Lutz started the hot dog shop in 2003 and says he never envisioned becoming what he has today. He joked that when he started he was just doing the importing on the side because he still had to pay his bills and make ends meet.
'It's not diet food'
As for the menu, Lutz says through a smile that German food is tasty, but not necessarily healthy.
"Comfort food," he calls it. "It's not diet food, but it's good-tasting food to have every once in awhile," he says.
With entrees priced between $13 and $18, a little taste of Germany can be had in the form of German potato pancakes with sour cream and applesauce; the always-popular Jägerschnitzel, which is a breaded pork loin in a mushroom cream sauce served with mashed potatoes and red cabbage; Bavarian beef goulash in a paprika red wine sauce, served with red cabbage and spaetzle – a German pasta – and also cordon bleu, a center-cut pork loin stuffed with ham and Swiss cheese and served with fresh vegetables and mashed potatoes.
McKraut's also serves up various appetizers, bar food, ribs and other assorted items.
Perhaps most impressive is the beer list. On tap during the Post's visit was Benediktiner, the original Hefeweizen Monk's beer, as well as that version in a "dunkel" or dark version; the Hofbraeu Delicator Bavarian Dopple Bock, described as a "strong beer" with an 8.4 percent alcohol volume; not to mention about 11 others just on tap. There are also rows of other drink selections behind the bar.
McKraut's menu says that quality beer takes five to seven minutes to tap. That just goes to prove an old saying true – all good things (at McKraut's) come to those who wait.
Cheers! Or as they say in Germany: Prost!