The Gordon Biersch Brewing Company
Page 2: Beer Reviews
This is Page 2 of a three-page article. To visit the other pages, click on the black links below.
Gordon Biersch produces four year-round beers and four seasonal offerings. All of the beers are brewed in strict accordance to the Reinheitsgebot, the famed German Purity Law established in 1516, which stated that beer must be brewed using only water, malted barley and hops. (Little was known about fermentation in the 1500s. All beers also contained yeast, but brewers were not yet aware of it. Louis Pasteur changed all of that approximately 300 years later).
When I sat down with Dan Gordon, we gulped our way through each of Gordon Biersch’s year-round beers, plus two of the seasonal offerings. These were my favorites:
Gordon Biersch Pilsner
It is a common misconception among many beer drinkers that a brew cannot be described as hoppy unless it has those citrusy, piney flavors common to an IPA like Sierra Nevada. The truth is, there are dozens of hop varieties, each with their own unique flavor characteristics. Gordon Biersch Pilsner is loaded with Hallertauer hops, which add distinctive herbal and floral aromas and flavors to the beer.
Many American beers call themselves Pilsners, or “Pilsner-style.” Many of these same beers also include the word Light or “Lite” on the label. These beers have their fans—legions of them, in fact—but let us be clear: These beers taste about as close to an authentic Pilsner as that imitation crab meat stuff does to a mound of jumbo lump crab meat. Gordon Biersch Pilsner is the real thing: Crisp, effortlessly drinkable (but not watered-down) and, yes, hoppy.
Pilsner beer was first brewed in the Czechoslovakian town of Pilsen in the mid-1800s. As the story goes, a Czech monk smuggled a special sample of German yeast into Czechoslovakia and used it to brew the first batch of this golden lager. (I can empathize with this monk and his covert maneuvering. I had to take similar measures to shield my case of Gordon Biersch beer from thirsty, jealous travelers on my train ride home following my meeting with Dan Gordon).
Gordon Biersch Pilsner. All Gordon Biersch photography by Dhanraj Emanuel.
Drink Gordon Biersch Pilsner as an apéritif, or as a thirst-quencher on a hot day. Ideal food pairings include:
- Barbecue. This is a great beer to serve at a backyard barbecue. It is relatively low in alcohol (5.3% ABV), easy to drink and packed with flavor.
- Burgers, Sausages & Salads. The floral hop flavors can stand up to slightly stronger flavors, too, like sausages, salads dressed in vinaigrettes and burgers—especially those topped with sharp cheddar or pepper jack cheese and bacon.
- Shellfish. Pair it with shellfish dishes, including crab cakes and shrimp scampi. The beer’s crisp flavor helps to cut through the richness of scallops, and pairs well with fish and chicken dishes prepared with citrus-based sauces.
Gordon Biersch Hefeweizen
Refreshing, effervescent and unfathomably flavorful, Gordon Biersch Hefeweizen is as good—if not better than—many of the best-known German wheat beers that I’ve tried; it puts most other American-brewed wheat beers to shame. Gordon brews his with a yeast strain called W68 that he acquires from the Hefebank Weihenstephan, the world’s largest source for brewing yeast and an affiliate of Gordon’s alma mater, the Technical University of Munich. This unique yeast strain gives the brew its pronounced flavors of citrus, bubble gum, banana and clove.
“Managing yeast is what brewers do,” says Gordon. At Gordon Biersch, they propagate their yeast strain and, unlike most breweries, use it only once, thereby ensuring freshness and consistent flavor.
Drink this beer with lighter foods:
- Fish & Seafood. Try it with grilled or pan-seared fish and mussels steamed in beer.
- Fruit-Based Desserts. Absolutely! Try it with grilled fruit.
- Salads. It’s a great beer for light salads (you might want to go with another style for a heavy chef’s salad).
- Sushi & Sashimi. Hefeweizens also pair well with sushi, sashimi and the citrusy flavors of ceviche.
Gordon Biersch Hefeweizen, or wheat beer.
This lighter beer is an ideal thirst-quencher for hot summer days. And where does Gordon stand on the Lemon vs. No lemon debate? Would he add a slice to his prized brew?
“Never,” he says. “No Bavarian would ever put lemon in a hefeweizen. It doesn’t need it. The citrus flavors are already right there.”
Gordon Biersch Dunkelweizen
Gordon Biersch Dunkelweizen is a seasonal beer, brewed from March to June. This dark wheat beer pours cloudy and hazy, like a sepia-tinged storm inside my glass. One drink and I’m sold. Bury me with a bottle of this stuff.
“It’s all about the malted wheat and yeast in this beer,” Gordon says. The roasted malt offsets some of the banana, citrus and clove flavors, producing a sweet, rich and slightly spicy brew that is both refreshing and nuanced.
Before bottling, Gordon Biersch’s Weizens undergo five to six weeks of aging, which intensifies the flavor and enhances the beers’ unsurpassed smoothness. Most other breweries do not exhibit such patience when brewing wheat beers.
Drink this beer with lighter foods:
- Meats. You’ll enjoy this beer with roasted meats and grilled sausages.
- Caramel, Creamy & Banana-Based Desserts. Try it with crème brûlée and flan-type desserts, banana pudding, grilled bananas and bananas Foster. It also pairs well with creamy desserts like ricotta cheesecake, and desserts with citrus flavors.
- Plantains. Here’s a reason to get out recipes for plantains and food cooked with plantains, including tostones, or fried plantain patties, fufu, a traditional Cuban dish of mashed plantains and sofrito, and mofongo, a dish of mashed plantains, garlic and stock from the Dominican Republic.
Gordon Biersch Hefeweizen, dark wheat beer.
Speaking of recipes, Gordon Biersch has developed a few favorites. Take a look at them on the next page.
Continue To Page 3: Gordon Biersch Beer Recipes
Go To Article Index Above