Nine things to know about Sauf Haus, Dupont’s new rooftop beer garden

Sauf Haus, Dupont Circle's three-story, German-inspired beer garden, opens to the public Thursday at 4 p.m. Here are nine things to know about the 18th Street destination for pretzels, lager, foosball and oompah music.

Sauf Haus
Sauf Haus's 2000-square-foot rooftop deck features a long bar and communal dining tables. Don't try to save seats. (Photo by Fritz Hahn/The Washington Post)

It's going to be Oktoberfest year-round.
The roomy rooftop beer garden holds 160 people over 2,000 square feet. It's lined with long, Oktoberfest-style metal benches, which came directly from Germany, and a huge bar topped with 16 taps. Every draft, sold in half-liter or one-liter mugs, comes from Germany. Speakers will blast oompah and polka music much of the time.

Downstairs, the two smaller floors are inspired by rustic German taverns, with cuckoo clocks, exposed wood and a foosball table, which will be free to play.

The roof will be open late.
Doors open at 4 p.m. daily, and the bar will keep pouring until 2:30 a.m. on weekends, and either 11 p.m. or midnight during the week, depending on crowds and the weather. (The rooftop will be tented in the winter and spring, but open to the elements in the summer and fall. A retractable roof may be in the cards in the future.)

The downstairs bars will be open similar hours, and may be open later.

Judging by the name, this is a place to drink. A lot.
"Sauf" isn't a German word you'd use to describe your weekend to your boss. The verb "saufen" means to drink, but in a way that implies you're not just having a quiet drink with a friend. ("Saufen wie ein Loch" means "to drink like a fish.") Sauf Haus, then, is a place to get sloshed.

Those with a long memory might remember that "Sauf Haus" wasn't the new operation's original name. When the original liquor license application was submitted back in 2011, the place was going to be named "Guitar Bar," after the legendary Guitar Store that occupied the second floor of the building from 1922 to 2011. Owner Edwin Villegas, who also owns the neighboring Public Bar, eventually decided to change the name to focus on his partners' shared love of Oktoberfest and German beer.

Those 16 German beers on tap are joined by 5 American craft beers in cans.
Many of the German beers will be familiar from Oktoberfest, including Paulaner, Spaten and Hofbrau. There will be three different Hofbraus available, including the lager, the hefeweizen and a seasonal, such as the Oktoberfest. Overall, there's a good mix of pilsners, wheat beers, lagers and dunkels. There are plans to highlight a different specialty beer each month, such as Schofferhofer Grapefruit, a radler-style mix of wheat beer and grapefruit soda.

But while having so many German beers is a cool concept, it can be a little limiting, says bar manager Pablo Brown, who also likes the German-style beers from Pennsylvania-based Troegs. "Troegs is an amazing brewery, but we're sticking to our guns and only selling German beers on tap, so we'll sell their beer in cans." Other canned craft beers will come from Sweetwater, Twin Lakes and Goose Island. There will also be cider for the gluten-free crowd.

Even the cocktails will have German beer in them.
The focus here is on beer rather than spirits: The bar will only sell one kind of vodka (Tito's) and one kind of gin (Bluecoat). They're making a special menu of drinks that combine beer and hard liquor, such as a special house-made vanilla vodka to add a flavorful kick to that grapefruit-flavored Schofferhofer, and a twist on the Corona margarita that involves light beer, Grand Marnier and tequila.

Speaking of drinking, there's a happy hour.
Running from 4 to 7 p.m. on weekdays, specials include $8 half-liters and $14 liters of any draft beer and $2 off anything else.

Hungry? Try a huge pretzel!
Sometime in August, Sauf Haus will roll out a menu of bratwursts, frankfurters and oysters. Until then, it's going to sell "comically large" two-pound Bavarian-style pretzels, which should be enough for a table to split.

They aren't taking reservations.
"We're not trying to do bottle service, like [Public Bar] next door," Brown says. "The way we see it, the roof is going to be first-come, first-served." They may take reservations for large groups in the future, but not at first. This means that arriving early will be essential, especially when the neighborhood gets crowded on Friday and Saturday nights.

Still got World Cup fever?
The rooftop only has three TVs, and there's a large projection screen on the second floor. Brown says that they'll show soccer matches year round, capitalizing on Germany's recent World Cup win, and there's always foosball if you want to play a game yourself.

Sauf Haus, 1216 18th St. NW. 202-466-3355. www.saufhausdc.com. Opens July 24. 

Fritz Hahn has written about bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003, but he also writes about everything from Civil War battlefields to sailing classes. A product of Prince George's County public schools, Fritz majored in journalism at the University of Maryland and lives in the District.
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