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Gordon Biersch, California-Based Brewery Chain with Terrible Beer in Several Area Locations


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[Posted on eGullet 2003-2004]

I stopped into Gordon Biersch (does anyone remember the blinking penisaurus in Flesh Gordon?) last night for a nightcap, and ordered a Marzen and a Fest. The beers arrived, I took one taste of each, and just about gagged. I asked the snotty bartender where the beers came from, and she pointed behind me and said "over there." I turned around and saw what appeared to be a microbrew operation, but quite honestly I couldn't believe that these beers were brewed right there in a small batch. Then I looked at the menu and saw that there are sixteen other locations, and guessed that this stuff must be mass-produced formula beer, with the corporate-purchased ingredients trucked in and brewed locally under the guise of being some sort of craft brew, sort of like Otis Spunkmeyer cookies at 7-11, or even Papa John's pizza (ever seen the big rigs that pull into that place?) Is this stuff always this bad, and can anyone confirm how this place operates?

No body move, I've got the power pasties and I know how to use them.

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I was at Tysons Corner mall with a friend today and, since he is an avid beer drinker, we decided to have lunch at Gordon Biersch. Being a weekday, there was no wait to be seated, but there was a bit of an odd moment when the hostess asked “Can you follow me?” Hmm. While my friend is currently suffering from back problems, I am pretty sure he does not look that pitiful. His reply of “We’ll try our best” was met with a blank look.

I ordered the fish and chips.

The chips: as our waitress oh-so patiently explained to us, Gordon Biersch is “known” for their garlic french fries. They consisted of slightly undercooked, medium-cut fries tossed with minced raw garlic and a bit of parsely. Whew. :) I figure that I am quite safe from vampires for the next 24 hours or so.

The fish: the fish itself seemed okay (not overcooked or terribly fishy-tasting), but it was encased in a shell of breading which tested the compressive strength of my fork & knife. Even drowning the pieces in malt vinegar did nothing to soften the breading. I wound up neglecting my end of the conversation during lunch because I was concentrating so much on applying the exact amount of force to my fish to cut it into bite-sized pieces without sending breading-shrapnel or, worse, the whole chunk of fish, flying off my plate and into the lap of my dining companion.

Overall, the meal was fine. The service was fine. The food was fine. Not great food, but better than the fish and chips I had the last time I ate at Capital City Brewing Company (but that is not really saying much). Not sure if I’d choose to go back though…

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For some reason, the downtown GB is often selected for birthday lunches. Blah, not MY birthday lunch. IMO, those fries are a novelty to be ordered once and then banished from the diet. If I have to go, I get the ham & cheese sandwich over the burger or anything with pasta, both of which tend to arrive overcooked.

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I think that their Sunday brunch is nice. The last time I went, they had live music, and an incredible bloody mary bar.

The worst part is the parking at the downtown location. There simply isn't any. And the lines at the Spy Museum across the street are the reason why.

I can take it or leave it, though.

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I once went to the Penn Quarter location of the GB and found it horrible in every imaginable way.  Every.  Imaginable.  Way.  However, I've ended up at GB a number of times recently because I have a friend who likes the location near the ballpark, for drinking.  It's fine for that (I like the Czech pilsner), but their greatest attribute is their bathroom.  Not much available to the public right near there.  There are restroom signs at Canal Park, but I've never figured out exactly where they are.

Usually I just get a beer while we're hanging out, but it turns out that the garlic fries are actually pretty good.  The small size ($4.50) is fairly generous and meets the need when you want food and don't want to spend a lot of money.

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According to the Washington Business Journal (and verified on G-B's website), Penn Quarter, Navy Yard, and Rockville locations have been closed locally. Many others closed nationally, too.

Only location in the immediate area is in Tyson’s Corner Center, and it is the best brewpub in that mall (at least, it’s the only brewpub I remember in the mall).

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8 hours ago, twj410 said:

Only location in the immediate area is in Tyson’s Corner Center, and it is the best brewpub in that mall (at least, it’s the only brewpub I remember in the mall).

Annapolis I believe is still open.

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38 minutes ago, DanielK said:

Annapolis I believe is still open.

For a few more days I suspect.  Many closings in Annapolis Town Center due to high rents.  Annapolis has many favored local sailor bars.  From the Boatyard to Davis's pub.  And we are about to get a nano brewery, Forward Brewing, in Eastport.

 

Goodbye bad beer and food.

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Another loss for Rockville Town Center (closely following Bar Louie's closure). If a location in a hopping neighborhood like Navy Yard closes - Craftworks Holdings/GB's bankruptcy filing was a bigger driver than any individual location. 

DCBeer had some nice things to say and highlighted local, successful GB Alums:

dcbeer.com/2020/03/04/gordon-biersch-closes-four-area-locations/

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