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Happy Friday beer lovers, and thanks for stopping into FNBB. Grab a cold one and come discuss beer with us.

Last Friday I was lucky enough to get a special tour of the Gordon Biersch production brewery in San Jose CA and I want to share my impressions.

Gordon Biersch was founded by Dan Gordon and Dean Biersch in 1988 in Palo Alto CA, has their beer distributed nationally, and pubs in 18 states and DC. According to their website their capacity is 3.1 million gallons per year, making them the largest brewery in the SF Bay area.

Head Brewer Dan Gordon is Munich-trained, enormously proud of that, and GB sticks to German-style beers brewed by Reinheitsgebot rules.
A lot of American craft brewers pride themselves on their creativity; this includes most of the best American brewers and a lot of the other kind. Dan is happy to brew really good beer every day without inventing new recipes and new styles.

The homebrew club was able to arrange a private tour, led by co-owner and Head Brewer Dan Gordon, that was probably the best brewery tour I'll ever be part of, and not just because of Dan's generosity with the free samples. [if their home page is still showing the Limited Release Dunkles, we drank that straight from the lagering tank. YUM!]
I've seen enormous corporate beer factories, but they talk about stuff like how many bottles per hour come out, not about technical details of mashing. And I've seen smallish 5-10 barrel breweries that are really only scaled-up  homebrew systems without the sophisticated automation and process control of the big boys. GB is a very impressive medium-size brewery. Dan's comment on the bottling line wasn't about throughput, it was how much air gets into the bottle, which determines shelf life. It was a German bottling line. The Munich training shows in his preference for German equipment as well as German styles.

GB is also a big contract brewer; they make German styles under the JosephsBrau label for Trader Joe's, also some of Costco's "Kirkland" beers. We didn't recognize all the packaging we saw; I think there were also some ales I've seen at TJ's. I believe the label has to show the real production location so if it says San Jose it's almost certainly from GB.

More detail and pictures at our club website.

I'm out at the regular monthly meeting of the homebrew club and will stop by the comments later. What are you drinking? Who's brewing?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (14+ / 0-)

    "Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war" - John Adams

    by esquimaux on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 06:45:17 PM PST

  •  Thanks for the tour info (4+ / 0-)

    sounds really great!

    Enjoying Sam Adams Rebel IPA tonight.

    Blue is blue and must be that. But yellow is none the worse for it - Edith Sidebottom

    by kenwards on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 06:54:50 PM PST

    •  Me too! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kenwards, bsegel

      I've had a run of good beers lately.

      Tonight I too had a Sam Adams Rebel IPA. Billed as a West-Coast style IPA with a piney character. It is a bit piney, but not as piney as the Sierra Nevada Celebration that I had a couple 12-packs of this winter. The Sam Adams is pretty good, but I loved the Celebration. Just more intense.

      Last night I had a Red Hare (brewery in Marietta, GA) Cottontail Pale Ale, which was great. A richer, more robust flavor than most pale ales. Reminded me of the Red Brick Hoplanta IPA, with less hops.  

      The waitress brought the Cottontail by mistake; I had ordered a Red Hare Watership Brown, which is also great. It's both a little hoppier and a little maltier than a Newcastle.

      Speaking of the Hoplanta, through February I worked my way through a 6-pack of Hoplanta and a 12-pack of Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA. I had had the Hoplanta months ago, remembered it fondly, and it was every bit as good as I remembered. It might be my overall second-favorite beer of the last several years. Though the Ruthless Rye was close. They're very similar; full-bodied, hoppier than average but not extremely so. All February I was trying to decide which one I liked better. I think it's the Hoplanta, but another Ruthless Rye might change my mind. Again.

      My very favorite beer of the last several years was the Red Hare Bitter Hearts Double Black Imperial IPA they brewed in the winter of 2012-13. Practically the platonic ideal of beer--hearty in every respect. My son helps pour at Red Hare for some of their Thursday night tours, and he says they're thinking of brewing it again. I hope so. If they do, don't miss it. It will be worth the trip to ATL! And I'll take you to get some good local barbecue, too.

      That's the beer news from the Atlanta suburbs.

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 07:39:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  it was (0+ / 0-)

      a really superior tour. He talked a lot about the science and QA processes that give them reliability which I found fascinating.

      "Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war" - John Adams

      by esquimaux on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 10:26:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I was gifted a 6-pack of pumpkin ale today. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bsegel, mungley

    They were absolutely delicious, and hopefully maybe nutritious?  Good stuff.

    Punxsutawney Phil has been unfriended.

    by jwinIL14 on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 06:58:20 PM PST

  •  Just got home from Pizza Port Brewing (5+ / 0-)

    Met up with a friend and her daughter at Pizza Port Brewing in Carlsbad California after work today.

    While I was waiting for them to arrive I had a Ponto SIPA, a sessions beer. I have some in the fridge right now, it's pretty good for a low alcohol beer.

    Next up was a Norse Woman IPA, it was pretty tasty.

    Then I had a Bressi Brown Ale, also very tasty.

    After leaving I had to stop to take this shot of the brewery with the sun going down.

  •  Sidhe update: No pics yet (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mungley, bsegel

    I've been taking some, but haven't done anything with them.

    Very busy week. Bought control panel kit, BrewHouse pots and the metal for the stand. I currently have a nice sunburn on my neck from 3 consecutive 12-hour days of heliarc welding. Pretty impressive for February in MN!

    Waiting on a quote for fermenters. Have let paperwork pile up a bit,  and need to start leaning on the landlord to get going on demo.

    Michele Bachmann
    is a manipulative homophobe. And soon to just be a bad memory!

    by Transactivist on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 07:30:13 PM PST

  •  The first Micro Brewery I ever visited was GB in (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bsegel

    Palo Alto.
    Sometime around 1988. Maybe 1989.

    Started with a Red Hook IPS (Long Hammer)

    Going to try a second one of those Poe themed beers from Maryland This one is "Telltale Heart IPA"

    I ain't often right, but I've never been wrong. Seldom turns out the way it does in this song.

    by mungley on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 07:33:38 PM PST

  •  Got away from the snow this week (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bsegel

    to wet, rainy, rainy, Portland, OR to visit the daughter.  Getting away during the WINTER when you have livestock is not easy, but we managed it.  Portland is a haven of beervana, so many to choose from and so little time.  A favorite for the week has been a beer not from Portland but from environs, Pyramid Imperial IPA on draft.  Not a "real" IPA, but a dark, sweet and malty beer with a hoppy finish (hence the IPA, I guess).  Not  my usual favorite type, but this one was very, very good.  A couple of visits to the McMenamins where there are consistently good brews and then to Bridgeport and Portland Brewing to top off the week.  Today was a beautiful, sunny, warm day but the rain returns tomorrow.  No problem, we fly out in the morning.

  •  Gordon Biersch (0+ / 0-)

    Marzen. Amazing, my favorite!. Thanks for this...SSK

    "Hey Clinton, I'm bushed" - Keith Richards UID 194838

    by Santa Susanna Kid on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 08:51:41 PM PST

    •  glad you liked it (0+ / 0-)

      the German styles aren't as popular with American craft brewers but GB does them well I think.

      "Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war" - John Adams

      by esquimaux on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 10:32:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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