Drunk Traveler once again,
With my extended stay in South Florida, I decided to make a short hop over to Gordon Biersch on Brickell Ave. in Downtown Miami. My first impressions did not fare well, as I walked in the front door the hostess walked right past me out the door, without even a greeting. I meandered about and found my way to the bar.
Surprisingly for a Saturday evening the place was practically empty. A bar that seats nearly 30, held only four other patrons handful of 5-6 tables with other dinner guests. None the less, I asked my bartender for a beer menu. I promised not to disclose my bartenders name as I am going to divulge some disturbing words here in just a few moments.
The beer menu had a base of 6 regular brews. I went straight for the Hefeweizen. Now Gordon Biersch has a very strict policy as described on their website as complying with the Reinheitsgebot (Germany’s beer purity law), which strictly limits that beer can be made from ONLY three ingredients; water, grains, and hops. Later the fourth ingredient was allowed only after the discovery of yeast by Louis Pasture. There are so many things wrong with their beer that I am just going to jump right in.
The Hefeweizen is brewed with banana peel and cloves added. I do not like either in beer. The beer was served way too cold, their keg room is set at 37 degrees Fahrenheit (I guessed 38˚ but I was corrected by the manager). Plus they have added artificial carbonation! While I was sipping and trying to get the first pint down, I struck up a conversation with the nameless bartender. I asked a myriad of questions about the brewery, and each brew. I was shocked at how little he and everyone else (wait staff and other bartenders) knew about beer in general!
I began to explain the whole purity law and brewing process, I described the two main beer styles — ales and lagers. I then expanded from there into the 18 accepted styles of beers, such as wheat, lambics, pale ales, bitters, porters, bocks etc. An audience started gather and it soon turned into a beer class.
If you work in a macro brewery I would think you would know some simple basics about beer, like the difference between an ale and a lager, but at this location no one knew anything. As I continued the beer class, I went for the next pint. This time I choose the marzen a very traditional German style beer. It was very good. Again way too cold and carbonated, but with that aside the flavors and light caramels gently passed my taste buds with a hint of fresh hops. I would order this again if given the opportunity. The lessons continued as I sipped the marzen.
I noticed sweat rolling off of the taps and cringed, knowing the beer is being dispensed way too cold. Miami at this time is under a very cool spell and with only 48% humidity this condensation on taps is highly irregular. This is when I found out that all their beer is stored at the same temperature (37˚).
I finished my burger and noticed a different tag on a tap I had not notice before; FestBier. The bartender quickly gave me a 4 once sample and explained it was the last remaining keg from their October (seasonal) beer which they called October Fest. This was a fantastic tasting beer, I would not dare call it an Octoberfest, though. that would only insult every German on the planet. It was, however, a very light, clean, and crisp lager — nearly a pilsner. I would think every idiotic American who chugs down countless beers during a Monday Night football game would love this beer. It should be their anchor beer for the non-beer aficionados. The establishment doesn’t see it that way (or shall I say my way).
Moving on, I promised my tender I would save their WinterBrew for last. Weihnactsbockbier, OG = 18, ABV= 7.5%. A dark beer, listed as a bock, described as having a smooth and nutty taste and finish with Christmas spices. The brew was served in a very large-mouthed mug and extremely cold (like everything else). I took a sip. Nearly tasteless. I waited 20 minutes or so for it too warm up just a bit, to around 42˚. Small sips and yes, it began to release it very smooth nuttiness. A clean finish. Not expected from this nearly black beer. This beer I would order as a finishing toast of the evening with friends.
If I wasn’t educated and self proclaimed as a beer lover and enthusiast, these beers would would have been very good. Commercial establishments such as Gordon Biersch don’t provide the facilities to store different styles of beer at different temperatures because they don’t have people like me walking in and providing judgment on a high scale. If given the opportunity I will visit a Gordon Biersch Restaurant again, but I will be prepared and not have such a high expectation.