The literal translation for the German word Bierleichen is beer corpse. This word is coined specifically for the Oktoberfest drinkers, who are so drunk they ‘legit collapse’ wherever they happen to be – whether it be a train station floor or a random field. It is 100% worth the Google image search. To have your bar’s name translate into beer corpse? I’d say that’s pretty metal.
Welcome to newly opened Bierleichen, Ridgewood’s heavy metal-themed German beer hall located at 582 Seneca Avenue–only three blocks away from old-fashioned Gottscheer Beer Hall opened in 1927, and only steps away from newly opened Milo’s Yard.
The bar honors authentic German culture through its traditional festival fare and imported craft beers, which can be served in boots up to two liters! Adam Collison, who additionally owns Brooklyn bars The Drink and The Bounty, wants to provide guests with a unique experience and exceptional haven for drinking, major sporting events and entertainment purposes. “If the place is for them, it’s the best time. It’s not for everyone.”
I happen to agree. Upon entering through the intimidating heavy black doors (which used to function as church doors ironically enough) and into the booming echoed sound of Marilyn Manson, you might have very well opened Pandora’s Box into a world of corpse paintings, questionable animal skeletons and grungy industrial-modern décor. The music selection is ‘all over the map,’ from the early beginnings of metal to Cannibal Corpse, as the sounds pleasingly boom and resonate up and around the eighty-one year old venue, which formerly ran as a garage.
Guests have the option to enjoy their beers at the bar watching TV or at a long family-style table. They also can partake in a foosball game, underneath a Hofbrauhaus flag.
There is an intimate backyard space lined with porch chairs and picnic tables – where eventually the owners will host comedy events.
The owners have hopes of screening major sporting events and art-related movies, perhaps hosting live music as well. German-themed events additionally are in talks, including a witch-themed fest (celebrating Krampus!) and a burlesque night.
Although Bierleichen may seemingly look ‘straight-up evil’ to non-metal folk at first glance, there are stunning organic touches that balance out the bar’s atmosphere. Various skylights create an enhanced ‘indoor, outdoor’ look. Hanging plants and succulents stand out in the light – and possibly look even more lively from the contrast of the gray tones surrounding them.
Adam literally built the place from the ground up, using recyclable materials for everything including the wooden furniture to the lighting fixtures. Being a former painting major from Pratt, he created all of the original works in the bar, including the gigantic skull mural on the back wall, which you immediately notice upon arrival.
I met with Adam and Olga Haines, two of the six owners, at one of their indoor picnic tables while we drank Uerige Dussseldorf’s Alstadt and Harpoon Cider.
They expressed their goal, which is to recapture the days of the original bar culture in New York, to highlight the immigrants who opened the beer halls and to especially honor where they came from. Adam and Olga hope to carry these cultural experiences through time and try to stay as genuine as possible honoring Ridgewood’s German past. First generation Germans and straight Germans come to the bar, which definitely says something!
The German and Austrian beers are offered in both draft and bottled forms, the drafts ranging in size from .3 liters all the way up to 2 liters. Aside from the imported brews, Adam embraces the local beer culture in Queens – Finback Double Session Wit and Singlecut Billy 18 Watt IPA are amongst those included on the menu. Don’t worry if you’re not a crazy beer connoisseur – Coors Banquet is offered as well.
Happy Hour includes a $10 daily lunch special – a Bratwurst and a 12 oz. beer from 12:00-4:00 pm. From 4:00-7:00 pm, there are 2 for 1 Coors Banquets.
Wine and schnapps liqueurs are also included on the menu. Bierleichen is purposely choosing not to have cocktails or mixed drinks offered because the owners want to illustrate to people that Schnapps liqueur is worth trying, which is totally a valid point. For readers who aren’t familiar, Schnapps offers classic high-grade fruit liqueurs that are recommended to be drank neat or within a sparkling wine. The cherry and raspberry available options are some of the best on the market – so get to it and try something new!
The German festival fare includes the large traditional pretzels that you can share with friends – crispy on the outside and doughy on the inside. Bratwurst, knackwurst, pickles and grilled cheese are also offered – all under $10. Adam and Olga are taking their time to provide the absolute perfect vegetarian and vegan sausage options to serve, so stay tuned!
Brunch is also on the horizon, which means we will have the pleasure of experiencing Dutch Babies – traditional, puffy German pancakes.
There is definitely a lot to look forward to in how Bierleichen will progress as a German bar and an entertainment spot. Go grab a stein, some pretzels, play foosball and prost away. But don’t prost too hard, or you might turn into a bierleichen.
Follow Bierleichen on Instagram at @BierleichenNYC! Website coming soon.
Bierleichen is open Monday – Wednesday 12 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Thursday – Saturday 12 p.m.-4 a.m.