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Where Beer Flows in Streams

Lubo and Jana Katrusin at their new Queen Anne Beerhall. Photo by Lou Daprile

 

A Slovakian team is behind the new Queen Anne Beerhall.

Inside the brand-new Queen Anne Beerhall, painted in stern, declarative lettering on a long wooden sign above the bar, are the words that might be the place’s de facto motto: PIVO TECE PROUDEM. That’s Czech for BEER IS FLOWING IN STREAMS.

And here the beer will begin to flow this month—specifically the flavorful, easy-drinking beers of Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia. Three towers arrayed along the 50-foot long bar will each pour eight different draft beers, some never-before available in Seattle, including a special house beer brewed at Bitburger in Germany. A Czech-built brass tower behind the bar is dedicated entirely to Pilsner Urquell. Brewed in the Czech town of Plzen, it’s considered the world’s first pilsner beer.

“As I grew up with, we will serve it to have at least a one-inch head,” says Lubo Katrusin, one of the owners of the Beerhall. “It gives that full experience of drinking beer.”

Lubo and his wife Jana, another co-owner, are hale Slovakians in their early 30s; both speak with a Central European lilt. They’ve lived in the U.S. for 13 years, Seattle for eight, she studying at University of Washington and working in real estate, he running his own finishing carpentry business. They moved here because they’re avid skiers, hikers and climbers. “New Jersey was not the place,” Jana says.

All along, neither imagined themselves as bar owners—especially not of a 7,000-square-foot beer hall that can hold 300 people. They owe their involvement with the Beerhall to Lubo’s brother Andy Ivanov, a Jersey-based restaurateur who’s opened three similar establishments on the East Coast, including Radegast, the famed Brooklyn-based original. “It seems like some kind of coincidence it caught up with us,” Jana says.

The owner of the Queen Anne building once ran a kids’ clothing production and retail facility called Cotton Caboodle out of the space. He relocated years ago and the building—basically an enormous rectangle with a 22-foot-tall ceiling—sat unused. He discovered Radegast during a visit to the East Coast and was so taken with the place, he sought out Ivanov to suggest turning his building into a beer hall.

At that point the exterior was overgrown with ivy and shrubbery; even Queen Anne residents had no idea what was inside. Once Lubo and Ivanov got a look at the building’s barrel-vaulted, wood-beamed ceiling, they knew they had a gem waiting to be polished. Now, after almost a year of renovation led by Lubo, plus the installation of a full kitchen, grilling station and fresco detailing by a Czech-born graphic artist, the place looks like an Eastern Bloc union hall or train station ripe for a year-round Oktoberfest.

Like Lubo says, the experience is all about the beer—but not your ubiquitous Seattle hop-bomb.

“Those ales and IPAs are all so heavy that basically after a couple you’re done or you have to switch to something else,” he says. “Lagers, you naturally just want another one.”

Queen Anne Beerhall
203 W. Thomas St.

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