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Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group


Susan in FL
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I did not know that this was a family of brewpubs/restaurants. When in JAX Friday night, we went to Seven Bridges Grille and Brewery and were quite impressed. The food was great, and it's my understanding that each location has different offerings, depending on what's fresh. I had a king fish dish, and reportedly the fish had just been caught. It tasted that good. They had a very good wine and cocktail list, as well. The beer was great! I got their IPA and their Stout. They have GABF medal beers.

Locations are in FL, TN, GA, NC, OH, D.C., CA, HI, NV, AZ, WA and LA. If they all are as good as this JAX, FL restaurant, this is my kind of "chain."

I've never tasted a bottled Gordon Biersch beer. Is it good?

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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I have been to the Columbus, OH restaurant. The beers that I have had were quite good. Sorry, but I can't remember which ones. The food was also better than the typical chain. It has been about a year since the last time but wouldn't hesitate to recommend to someone looking for a good mid-priced meal.

Tobin

It is all about respect; for the ingredient, for the process, for each other, for the profession.

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If Jacksonville and Columbus are doing that well, they may want to start giving lessons to the folks in DC.  The GB here is garbage on all counts.

That sucks! Sounds like they should give the D.C. location some lessons...

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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It was a lot better before the sellout when they were local. Try the Garlic fries and Marzen beer.

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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They are also brewing a line of beers (12oz 6 packs) for Trader Joe's grocery stores. A Bohemian Pilsener, Bock, Vienna, and a Hefe. I just tried the Pilsener last night and was dissapointed. I have the other three in the fridge to try soon.

As for the DC GB I have never been but I have had their beers on a number of occasions (festivals, tastings, etc...). I have never had any of the other GB brewer's beers (other than the bottled Pils as mentioned above). What I have had from the DC location has been acceptable though nothing special.

My site, it is crappy.

http://www.nothoo.com

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They are also brewing a line of beers (12oz 6 packs) for Trader Joe's grocery stores. A Bohemian Pilsener, Bock, Vienna, and a Hefe. I just tried the Pilsener last night and was dissapointed. I have the other three in the fridge to try soon.

As for the DC GB I have never been but I have had their beers on a number of occasions (festivals, tastings, etc...). I have never had any of the other GB brewer's beers (other than the bottled Pils as mentioned above). What I have had from the DC location has been acceptable though nothing special.

As far as chain brewpubs go, with the exception of Big River Breweries of Chattanooga, Gordon Biersch is by far the best chain going. They have generally good to great beers and pretty good food to go with it and the places are usually well done architecturally.

Their marzen is kind of the flagship beer and it is a damn fine brew, IMO.

And since I mentioned them, let me put in a plug for Big River. Rob Gentry, the guy who thought it up (along with a couple of deep pocketed partners) is a really, really knowledgable brewer and someone who cares alot about what he makes, how he makes it, and the people that drink it. There are Big Rivers in Chattanooga, Nashville, Disney (!) and a few other places around. I reccoment them highly.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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As far as chain brewpubs go, with the exception of Big River Breweries of Chattanooga, Gordon Biersch is by far the best chain going. They have generally good to great beers and pretty good food to go with it and the places are usually well done architecturally.

Their marzen is kind of the flagship beer and it is a damn fine brew, IMO.

You had me confused there for a moment, as Big River purchased the Gordon Biersch chain in 1999. I thought you were about to say that Big River in Chattanooga was not up to the standards of the rest of the chain.

Although the Chattanooga-based company now markets itself primarily under the Gordon Biersch brand, it also operates two Big River (Chattanooga and Nashville) and two Rock Bottom brewpubs (Charlotte and Atlanta) as well as three other brewpubs in Florida that each go by different names. To further confuse matters, all of the other Rock Bottom brewpubs are owned and operated by another company.

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If Jacksonville and Columbus are doing that well, they may want to start giving lessons to the folks in DC.  The GB here is garbage on all counts.

Ditto.

Nasty food and bad beer.

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

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As far as chain brewpubs go, with the exception of Big River Breweries of Chattanooga, Gordon Biersch is by far the best chain going. They have generally good to great beers and pretty good food to go with it and the places are usually well done architecturally.

Their marzen is kind of the flagship beer and it is a damn fine brew, IMO.

You had me confused there for a moment, as Big River purchased the Gordon Biersch chain in 1999. I thought you were about to say that Big River in Chattanooga was not up to the standards of the rest of the chain.

Although the Chattanooga-based company now markets itself primarily under the Gordon Biersch brand, it also operates two Big River (Chattanooga and Nashville) and two Rock Bottom brewpubs (Charlotte and Atlanta) as well as three other brewpubs in Florida that each go by different names. To further confuse matters, all of the other Rock Bottom brewpubs are owned and operated by another company.

That's true, but what seperates the two is the beer and the way that it is made. Big River, beginning in Chattanooga and then moving on to Nashville, served unfiltered, primarily British, style ales. This is kind of a switch from normal brewpub methodology. One of the unique things about the Big River brands are that they are not filtered at all. Gentry had this guy from England come over and teach him and his brewers about fining methodology. Fining, when done properly, is a very complicated process involving eisinglass, carageenan, and some pretty complicated temperature changes. The result is a beer that is virtually clear, but still retains some of the nice, yeasty characterisitics that accompany unfiltered beers. I love the stuff.

They are nice guys. At one point I helped them run the Southern Brewers Festival in Chattanooga. It is one of the better events of it's kind in the South. I would reccomend it to anyone who wants to have a few unusual beers in a really nice setting.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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That's true, but what seperates the two is the beer and the way that it is made. Big River, beginning in Chattanooga and then moving on to Nashville, served unfiltered, primarily British, style ales. This is kind of a switch from normal brewpub methodology. One of the unique things about the Big River brands are that they are not filtered at all. Gentry had this guy from England come over and teach him and his brewers about fining methodology. Fining, when done properly, is a very complicated process involving eisinglass, carageenan, and some pretty complicated temperature changes. The result is a beer that is virtually clear, but still retains some of the nice, yeasty characterisitics that accompany unfiltered beers. I love the stuff.

I know the Rock Bottom brewmaster here in Charlotte and he has told me that the Biersch beers are all brewed according to the Reinheitsgebot German purity laws. Since the Rock Bottom beers in Charlotte are primarily British ales, I suspect that he is using the same recipes as the Big River brewpubs. He has told me that there are two sets of recipes in the company and there are strict controls over what he can brew.

My personal impression is that the brews are good examples of the style but are all fairly mainstream. Part of that is due to the restriction on brewing beers with an abv greater than 6% here in North Carolina, but the primary reason ties to the company's formula for success. Certainly, the company appears to be doing well so I cannot argue with that from a business perspective. From a beer lover's perspective, however, I would like to see them branch out from the mainstream British styles they are brewing. The vast majority of their clientele couldn't tell a lager from an ale, let alone recognize that they are brewing to classic British styles. I suppose this part of the country is not ready for a brewpub along the lines of the Southampton Publick House but I can only dream that someday it will be.

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I would agree with Brooks that the beers at Gordon Biersch can be "good to great". The problem is the lack of consistency from location to location, which I guess, should be expected. I have been to GB in Atlanta, DC, Hawaii, and Colorado, and had varying experiences. The DC and Hawaii sites rated low, in my opinion, on everything from beer to food to service. On the other hand, Atlanta was a jump up on the scale in all areas and the Boulder location was great. However, we have to realize that even though they are a chain, they are still operated by local staff and brewers, and use the local water supply, so there will be variations in the beer. I would think, though, that the food and service could be more consistent from place to place.

Bob R in OKC

Home Brewer, Beer & Food Lover!

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.  I suppose this part of the country is not ready for a brewpub along the lines of the Southampton Publick House but I can only dream that someday it will be.

You would have to be very rich and not very smart to really go into weird beer as a full time occupation-and that really does not include just the South.

I have built, operated, and/or supervised brewing operations (both brewpubs and full on breweries) in 4 countries, 3 continents, and 4 states. We made different things for different locales and beer styles, and regularly made something unfamiliar in order to keep from getting bored and to educate the local drinkers-but we never considered getting too far away from what the drinkers were familiar with (don't even THINK about making dark beer in Hong Kong or hoppy beer in Mississippi, etc.). You will always sell some to adventuresome drinkers, but it won't be enough to pay the note. Give them what they want and make a little something to satisfy yourself, was kind of the way that we always went into it, and it worked for us for a long time.

There are exceptions. At Abita, we developed Turbodog as a joke. It's a dark, strong, reasonably hoppy beer-exactly the kind of thing that we thought would be a bust. But it had a great name (long story-an off color joke, actually) and we put it out as a draft only specialty in New Orleans (Abita used to have rotating specialty taps all over New Orleans that kind of let us put out fun stuff when we felt like we had something worth taking across the lake. Eventually it turned into a rotating seasonal list (Bock for Mardi Gras, Wheat for Summer, Octoberfest for Fall, and a dark beer for Christmas (which, back in the old days, was the best beer of the year-we changed it every year-one year I made this big alcoholic chocolate bomb. We ended up having a couple of 1/4 kegs in a cooler in a bar in New Orleans that were there for a year. We kept meaning to throw them out, but we never did. The next year we tapped one just to see what was left-and it was, in fact, the best beer that I ever made. Boy was that stuff good. Sublime.). No matter what we made, however, Amber always outsold everything else. Amber is a good, pedestrian. lager-broadly in the Vienna style and made with a Weheinstaphen yeast that gives it that nice Vienna character-although the beer is finished at 1010 and that leaves it just a touch on the sweet side. It's pretty much like your basic yellow beer, except that it's brown. It makes people feel like they are really stepping out when basically they are drinking that same thing that they always do, just in a different color.

Anyway, you can make fun beer, but it's hard to make a living at it. Beer is the comfort food of alcohol. People generally want what's familiar. That is not to say that they won't venture out-kind of like people eat sushi sometimes, but they still come back to a good burger- but that they prefer the familiar on a regular basis.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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It was a lot better before the sellout when they were local. Try the Garlic fries and Marzen beer.

I have. Unfortunately they're part of the problem, not the solution. It's a bad news place which draws lots of tourists, I'm sure. I haven't been in there in a while to see if it draws anyone else. But it sets a bad precedent for other GB outlets, for when I travel it's unlikely I'll visit one knowing how bad they are here. Even worse off for them is that they're one block away from the District Chophouse, which has its set of faults, but in my book is the top scorer in the DC area for highest quality food and beer combo.
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  • 3 weeks later...

I guess I just have to disagree with just about everyone. I like the beer at GB DC: I've known the brewer there for years, and liked his beers when he was brewing in Alexandria at the place that is now Founders', and when he was briefly at Ellicott City. Just had his Maibock, and liked it a lot. Like the beer at the Chophouse, too, and really like the beer out at the Rock Bottom in Bethesda; Sweetwater Tavern and Old Dominion rock as well.

The G-B bottled beers are not made by the same company or same brewers as the G-B pubs, so the similarity gradually grows less every year.

And you can definitely do well making off-the-cam beers. Hats off to your experience, Mayhaw, but when Stone, Victory, and Dogfish Head are three of the fastest-growing breweries in the country, and the best-selling beers at all three are anything but "comfort" beers, you have to consider that the paradigms, they are a-changing.

Lew Bryson

I Drink for a Living

Somewhere in the world...it's Beer O'Clock. Let's have one.

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  • 2 weeks later...
...the Boulder location was great. 

I don't know if there's another location in Boulder itself, but I work in Broomfield, which is slightly Southeast of Boulder and go to the location in there often. I love the Martzen (as well as any other beer of theirs, but then I'm a huge beer fan), and their mushroom swiss burger is pretty much the best burger anywhere around - their burgers are juicy and highly seasoned, just like I like them. I've eaten dinner there a few times as well and once they had and Ono special that was fantastic - difficult to get great fish in Colorado...

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  • 3 weeks later...
It was a lot better before the sellout when they were local. Try the Garlic fries and Marzen beer.

Yep. It's certainly not what it used to be unfortunately. I only go there for the fries and Marzen now, maybe a meal at the Palo Alto location.

I was so excited when they opened the Broomfield, CO location, but the food just wasn't as good and extremely salty. I think it was an oriental salad and actually inedible and I'm somewhat of a salt fiend too. It also had a very "chainy" feel. The Hawaii (Honolulu I believe) one we ate at several years ago wasn't very busy and felt chainy too.

Of course now I mostly just buy my garlic fries frozen at Costsco and my marzen bottled at the grocery store. :smile:

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