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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Gordon Biersch SF and fresh Kölsch out of the tank

I have the highest respect for Dan Gordon. His mission in life is to bring the beers of Germany to the U.S. by brewing them here and serving them fresh. All done in accordance to Reinheitsgebot. 100% the way they are brewed in Germany. This includes a decoction mash for most beers that causes the brew day to be 10 hours. Dan backs up his strict guidelines with the highest level of brew education achievable in the world. His post-graduate work was at Weinstephan in Munich.....a demanding four year course where, " a passing grade is equivalent to A level work at UC Berkeley".
If you want to hear more about Dan, I highly recommend listening to any of the three times he visited the Sunday Session on The Brewing Network.

Dan's west coast man in charge of brew operations, including SF, the Northwest, and Hawaii is John Tucci. No slouch himself as he fleshed out his brewing education at Paulaner in Munich. He’s a perfect fit at GB. And thanks to a co-worker that grew up with John, we had the chance to take a private tour of GB-SF brew operations yesterday.
We started off with a couple of pints to warm us up….I had never tried the GB scharwzbier, so I did. Nice, mellow and obviously to style. I love Köstritzer and I would say the GB Schwarz is a hair mellower than that one. We were readied up to go tour the brewery and we were instructed by John to bring an empty glass with us for a tasting…most of us had one.

Down the stairs we went to the basement where all the fermentation and lagering takes place. BTW, GB-SF has a 25 barrel brew system….kind of unusual in that they have two kettles that do some back and forth. The mashtun also serves as the boil kettle. They mash, pump 80% of it to the lauter tun, then deconcoct the remaining 20% in the mash tun. When this is done, they bring the remaining, deconcocted mash over to the lauter and sparge. Then, the runnings get pumped back to the mash tun where they boil and hop. Back and forth. In the basement, we went through a VERY short door that led us to the bottom of the fermentation tanks (60 barrel tanks, they brew twice to fill it and have 10 barrels of headroom….and no kreusen blowing all over the place). I have to say, this is probably the most cramped setup I have seen. They fit this system in the spaces the best they could but there is a lot of bending down during the processes of brewing beer here. A tall guys nightmare.

From here, we went into the lagering space, in the basement right under the bar/eating area of the restaurant. Tanks were horizontal and tucked neatly into a space very short on headroom. Here is where the treat of the evening started.

John had the next seasonal in the lager tanks, their Kölsch. This is where he took our empty glasses and topped them up with some feisty young beer. Wow, it was great. Tangy and yeasty. Grainy and thick but most of all, damn good. I could have spent the rest my time there but the room was around 40 degrees and I was wearing a t-shirt. This Kölsch will be put on around the 24th of June and I can’t wait to go back and try it to compare.
After this, it was back upstairs for more beer. I pretty much stuck with the Marzen for the rest of the night as GB Marzen is one of my all time favorites.

Thank you Michael and John for the tour. It was a great time, very educational, and very satisfying on the palette. Shout out to Rich, also a brewer at GB. Met him at the Commonwealth beer event last winter and was impressed he still remembered me.

beer blogger and beer brewer

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