In Seattle’s ale dominated microbrewing scene Gordon Biersch is something of an oddity. To my knowledge there are only two area breweries producing exclusively German-style beers; Gordon Biersch being one of them. So, does this exclusivity and differentiation help?
First I have to admit I’m no expert, or even particularly fond of German-style Beers (lagers). Which is why I didn’t expect one to be a contender for Puget’s Perfect Pint (of ale). It’s also why I didn’t check out Gordon Biersch while visiting the other breweries before declaring Elysian the winner.
However, this is not to say that I was not curious about Gordon Biersch’s offerings; after all I have enjoyed Märzen, Alt, and Maibock brews at several of my favorite breweries, most notably around Oktoberfest.
So, at the end of a long day hiking and exploring Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood, some liquid restoration was needed. Since I would be riding Link light rail back downtown to Westlake station, which is right next to Pacific Place, where Gordon Biersch is located, some Teutonic brew seemed to be in order. Qualifies as a fueled by beer destination? Check!
As usual for my first time at a brewpub I ordered the beer sampler. In addition to GB’s five standard offerings: Golden/Hef/Pils/Märzen/Schwarzbier; two seasonals were on tap too. These were a Dunkelweiss and Rauchbier bringing my sampling up to seven beers in total.
However, my experience at Gordon Biersch suggested to me that they are using wheat in everything, including the brews that should be all barley malt. I can tolerate some wheat in the mash but can usually tell when it exceeds, say, 20% – then I typically don’t like it.
Going from light to dark…
- The Golden Export was pure mouthwash – not quite as nasty as the awful Lightswitch Lager at BJ’s brewhouse but still basically flavored water.
- The Hefeweizen – a style I usually dislike – was not horrible to my taste. I think it would be good to return with The Spouse and have her try it.
- The Czech Pilsner was a big disappointment: almost devoid of flavor and body, just a flat blah brew. The Spouse and I have drunk real Bohemian Pilsners on draft and in bottles in Slovakia so we know good Pilsner from bad.
- The Märzen, as the GB website states, is their most popular brew. It was certainly the best of my samples so I had a pint of it with my food. I will say this though: it did not measure up to the other Märzens I have tried. While I was not aware of any wheat in the others, if my taste buds were not mistaken, there was wheat in GB’s.
- The Schwarzbier reminded me of Three Skulls’ Blackbeard Dark Lager, a Schwarzbier by another name – but GB brews a watered down version.
- The Dunkelweiss, as its name implies, would not be my cup of tea. And so it was; basically a dark Hef, however it too might be a brew The Spouse would like, and like the Hef, worth returning for her to give it a try.
- The Rauchbier is certainly interesting but I think I may not be a fan of smoked beers. I remember having a smoked brew somewhere before, maybe Big Al’s, and this time, as before, I didn’t much care for it.
Out of GB’s seven beers I think I can honestly say only one of them was even halfway palatable to my taste – the Märzen – while the Hef and the Dunkel might appeal to The Spouse. The rest – totally forgettable I’m afraid.
As for the food at Gordon Biersch, I can only pass on my impressions from an appetizer combo. It was very good and the rest of the menu is very extensive – high end brewpub fare comparable to Rock Bottom.
In fact since November 2010 Gordon Biersch and Rock Bottom have become sister companies operating as subsidiaries under a new corporate umbrella called CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries. Combining over 200 locations nationwide CraftWorks is easily America’s largest operator of brewery restaurants.
It will be interesting to see what impact this common ownership has on GB and RB going forward.