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Steersh Clearsh of Gordon Biersch


DonRocks
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I stopped into Gordon Biersch (does anyone remember the blinking penisaurus in Flesh Gordon?) last night for a nightcap, and ordered a Marzen and a Fest. The beers arrived, I took one taste of each, and just about gagged. I asked the snotty bartender where the beers came from, and she pointed behind me and said "over there." I turned around and saw what appeared to be a microbrew operation, but quite honestly I couldn't believe that these beers were brewed right there in a small batch. Then I looked at the menu and saw that there are sixteen other locations, and guessed that this stuff must be mass-produced formula beer, with the corporate-purchased ingredients trucked in and brewed locally under the guise of being some sort of craft brew, sort of like Otis Spunkmeyer cookies at 7-11, or even Papa John's pizza (ever seen the big rigs that pull into that place?) Is this stuff always this bad, and can anyone confirm how this place operates?

Sweetwater Tavern in Falls Church is a good example of a corporate-owned brewpub that can make things worth drinking - every Sunday night they pull up a beer from the pump, served at room temperature, without any carbonation. Their regular beers aren't bad either, and the food is at precisely the same level as Artie's (both places are owned by the Great American Restaurant Group, so many menu items overlap and the execution is very similar). Yes, it's corporate and contrived, but this place can still pull off a good burger and fries, or a pork chop, smoked salmon, steak salad, etc. The problem is that people have discovered it long ago, and if you walk in without calling ahead, the wait can be long and arduous, without any decent alternative nearby (as much as I liked Kevin Grevey as a basketball player, I'm not a huge fan of his restaurant across Gallows Road).

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I beleive Gordon Biersch originates from California, specifically the Bay area. All the locations I have been to in the Bay area and near San Jose have had decent beer. Not great, however not horrible. Basically its your basic brewpub with burgers and pub food. They always seemed to be under decent supervision though, and you would think a DC outpost would have someone who knew what they were doing onsite, but I guess not.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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Is this stuff always this bad, and can anyone confirm how this place operates?

Hmmmm..... I can definitely confirm that their beer is brewed at the DC location, as I've met the brewer. He's a knowledgeable guy (and capable of brewing some really good stuff). Maybe he left?

Edited by cjsadler (log)

Chris Sadler

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It's been about a year since I've been there and I know the beer was pretty good then. Certainly better than Cap City anyway, but I seem to remember one in particular being damn near excellent. Perhaps cjsadler is right.

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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Oh my God I can't believe the swill that is Gordon Biersch has been inflicted on the good citizens of our nation's capital! Even the smell of that stuff is enough to make one gag. And did you say sixteen other locations? How embarrassing!

Speaking as a Californian, you have my deepest apologies. My only recommendation is to buy a six-pack of Anchor Steam and try to remember there are good things about California.

Squeat

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Oh my God I can't believe the swill that is Gordon Biersch has been inflicted on the good citizens of our nation's capital! Even the smell of that stuff is enough to make one gag. And did you say sixteen other locations? How embarrassing!

Speaking as a Californian, you have my deepest apologies. My only recommendation is to buy a six-pack of Anchor Steam and try to remember there are good things about California.

Squeat

I have to agree wholeheartedly with Squeat.

This is only based on memory, but when I first came to the Bay area about 12 years ago, I remember thinking their beer was ok. (Not the best of the microbrews around here, but decent). I have been to GB very infrequently in the last 5 years or so, which I think also corresponds to the time of their expansion--in CA and other places.

Well, last spring I had some friends visiting from Germany, Munich, specifically. I only had a day with them and thought it would be nice to take them to GB in San Francisco for a beer. (It was close to their hotel and it has really dramatic views of the Bay Bridge, easy to park on a Saturday afternoon, etc). Well--the beer was terrible and I was mortified. I had explained ahead of time that this was a "microbrew", etc. Based on this incident, I will never go back there. And when I say 'terrible", I am not commenting on some subtle distinction. The beer was skunky tasting. I assumed at the time that it must have been some kind of outlier. I mean, how could they serve beer like that and stay in business?

I wish I had brought them to SF Brewing Company!!!

Does anyone agree that there has been a big decline in the quality--say over 10 years? Even though I think my tastebuds may have become a little more discerning, it's hard to believe that I wouldn't have recognized the beer as bad back then if it tasted as it does now.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Sometimes it helps to eat the garlic fries first. Those guys actually taste good to me, but they do a serious number on your taste buds. The the only memory I have of GB is that the crowd (the genre) really bothered me, but then again, dogs aren't allowed.

Too bad it's such a beautiful space. Wasn't it a Riggs Bank or something?

Edited by morela (log)

...

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Good idea re: the garlic fries... Maybe their brewer is sampling these while tasting the beer also...

I do like the garlic fries; luckily we can get those out here at Giants games also..

Likewise, for the space in SF as well. It is really beautiful. I think that is why "letting go" of going there has been tough. It had been a nice place to take visitors. With my experience now, I guess I worry that even if the beer is good sometimes, it is way too inconsistent, and when it was off, it was off way too much.

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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If you're anywhere near Gordon Biersch in DC, why not beat feet a mere few blocks North to RFD, which even on a bad night will certainly have some better suds on tap? Of course, if you want to eat too, it's a toss-up which is worse. Little known fact, RFD actually stands for Repulsive Food, and Drink. They leave the comma out of the abbreviation.

Edited by iamthestretch (log)

"Mine goes off like a rocket." -- Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, Feb. 16.

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