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?