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Gorden Biersch – Visted by The Drunken Traveller

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. 


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Posted by on December 15, 2010 in Beer, Beer Tasting, Drunken Traveler


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Portland, OR, Part Deux

Drunken Traveler here, again.

As soon as I could get off work, I zipped across the Willamette River and to the City Center.
I met up with my Concierge and discussed the evening’s worth of beer consumption.
On his advice I walked a few blocks to a pub called Rock Bottom (

A bit on the commercial side. After a little while I found out that this is a chain, that was disappointing. A micro-brew house, for those of you who don’t know, is really designed to brew their own beer for sale within their own establishment. A craft brew is usually made for sale to other pubs and distributors. There are always exceptions to the rules. So please don’t send me any emails explaining it different.

Shivering from the cold Oregonian air, I stumble in to warm, dark hostess area. At first glance it appeared to be like most any mid-priced eatery comparable to Chili’s, TGI Fridays, or Bennigan’s — if they still exist.

Then I sit at the bar and notice the windows behind the bar exposing 10 or so large stainless steel tanks of the nectar.

A beer menu is handed to and, with little time to think, the bar tender asks what I want. With ten beers to choose from, I opted for the Beer Tasters Sampler. Six, four ounce glasses of their brews were placed in front of me. From light to dark, I received: Swan Island, Volksweizen Wheat, Velvet Pale Ale, Sunny Day IPA, Oregonic Amber, and American Stout.

The Swan Island was way too sweet, hoppy and too floral. But, it did sip well with a clean finish.

Volksweizen Wheat, very clean and smooth. It claims to have orange and coriander in but, but I found no hints of either. None the less it was very good brew. I ended up ordering a pint with my dinner.

Velvet Pale Ale, I don’t even know what to say about this one, barely any flavor at all. As far as I know they could have poured me a glass of Bud Select 55.

Sunny Day IPA, good flavor, nice bitterness, and slight hop tastes and smooth drinking, but never stood out as unique. So, I will say, it’s just a typical IPA. If it was warmed up to about 42 degrees Fahrenheit, I would bet this Ale would change character and kick ass.

Oregonic Amber, much lighter carrying the caramel tones, but not overdone. I would call this a nut brown anywhere else.

American Stout. The first thing that hit me was coffee.
Why do brew masters have to resort to using coffee to make a stout darker? I honestly believe by using proper chocolate malts and properly matched hops, yeasts, and grains a much smoother and better tasting beer could be produced. Once you start adding things other than the sacred 4 ingredients water, grain, yeast, and hops I start getting defensive about my beer.

Next, I was handed a 4 ounce glass of cask aged IPA, from an English pull and pump style dispenser. It really mellowed a lot with the lack of carbonation and a slightly warmer serving temperature; a very nice surprise. So, I was right, a slight change in temperature and age smoothed the beer and made a huge difference.

To sum it up; I was disappointed that I ended up at a restaurant chain. I enjoyed most of the brew but, most I will ever order again. Others, IF I ever end up in a Rock Bottom, I might order a pint or two.

This joint is within walking distance of my hotel, so I may end up there again. I’ll have to try out a few others while I’m here before making any rash decision when there are so many other great beer options.

Time for an aspirin.


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