Tag Archives: Dan Gordon

Scenes from the 3rd Annual Cider Summit SF 2016

It was another excellent Cider Summit SF.

Cider Summit 2016 01

Cider Summit 2016 02

Cider Summit co-founder Alan Shapiro and PR extraordinaire Yasemin Sussman.

Cider Summit 2016 03

Cider Summit 2016 04

Common Cider Company Blackberry Sangria.

Cider Summit 2016 05

Finnriver Black Currant.

Cider Summit 2016 06

Finnriver Oak & Apple.

Cider Summit 2016 07

The San Francisco Meadery Blackberry.

Cider Summit 2016 08

The San Francisco Meadery Apple Pie.

Cider Summit 2016 09

See Canyon Hard Cider Premium Dry.

Cider Summit 2016 10

South City Ciderworks Dry Me a River.

Cider Summit 2016 11

South City Ciderworks All the Good Hopped Names Were Taken.

Cider Summit 2016 12

Nana Mae’s Hard Cider.

Cider Summit 2016 13

Tag + Jug Strawberry Hill Gang.

Cider Summit 2016 14

Tag + Tug Brut Cider.

Cider Summit 2016 15

Redstone Meadery Passion Fruit Nectar.

Cider Summit 2016 16

Red Branch Cider Company’s Jon Siddoway and Siobhan Faul pouring their Hard Peach, Johnny Jump-Up and Hard Blackberry.

Cider Summit 2016 17

Cider Summit 2016 18

Cider Summit 2016 19

Cider Summit 2016 20

Cider Summit 2016 21

Cider Summit 2016 22

Cider Summit 2016 23

Embark Craft Ciderworks American Hopped.

Cider Summit 2016 24

Embark Craft Ciderworks American Heirloom.

Cider Summit 2016 25

Cider Summit 2016 26

Cider Summit 2016 27

Cider Summit 2016 28

Cider Summit 2016 29

Cider Summit 2016 30

Cider Summit 2016 31

Tilted Shed Ciderworks.

Cider Summit 2016 32

Tiled Shed Ciderworks Txotx.

Cider Summit 2016 33

Millestone Cellars Gingeroot.

Cider Summit 2016 34

Wifey and Dan Gordon of Wildcide Hard Cider and Gordon Biersch.

Cider Summit 2016 35

Cider Summit 2016 36

Cider Summit 2016 37

Cider Summit 2016 38

We also made sure to roam around The Presidio and soak in the beautiful sights and refreshing air.

Definitely an event highlight of the year.

Cheers! Prost! Gunbae!

~Andy



Inaugural Gordon Biersch Oktoberfest in San Jose

Photo from 25th anniversary celebration at Gordon Biersch Brewery in San Jose
Photo from 25th anniversary celebration at Gordon Biersch Brewery in San Jose

Gordon Biersch will celebrate its inaugural Oktoberfest this Sat., Oct. 10 directly outside its brewing facilities in San Jose’s Japantown (357 E. Taylor St.). The event takes place from 12pm to 9pm and includes a selection of the brewery’s signature German-style beers, traditional and contemporary food options, live music, stein-holding contest, free brewery tours and a five-story tall Ferris wheel.

Gordon Biersch will feature three of its traditional, unfiltered German-style beers – Märzen, Czech Style Pilsner and Festbier. Märzen, Gordon Biersch’s original Oktoberfest beer, highlights the flavors of imported German, dark-roasted Munich and caramelized Munich malts. The Czech-style Pilsner utilizes Bavarian Hallertau and Tettnang aroma hops to produce fine bitterness and a floral aroma. The unique flavor and bouquet combine for a crisp, highly drinkable beer. Festbier emphasizes rich malty undertones with a moderately hoppy finish. The maltiness is created via a combination of dark-roasted Munich style malt, Pilsner malt and both light-roasted and dark-roasted caramel malt.

Look for WildCide Hard Cider – the first offering from Gordon Biersch’s new cider venture – to make its public debut after the stealthily creative “No Name Cider” social media marketing campaign held earlier this year.

Gordon Biersch’s signature garlic fries will be available in addition to offerings from Capelo’s Barbecue, German-style soft pretzels from Wolfgang’s Bavarian Pretzels, Bratwurst, other sausages and roasted pig and chicken. Seating will be housed under a sperry tent with hall-style seating for 500.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo is scheduled to make a special appearance at 2pm to take part in the traditional tapping of the keg with Gordon Biersch brewmaster Dan Gordon.

Free brewery tours will be held at intervals throughout the day. Live music will include Santa Cruz soul band Pawn Shop Soul and San Francisco collective Jazz Mafia. Both groups focus on contemporary funk, soul and jazz.

Ticket Information

Tickets are available at gboktoberfest.brownpapertickets.com.

Price:

12 and under free
$15 13+ or designated driver
$20 entrance and 1 drink ticket
$25 entrance, 1 drink ticket, and .4 Litre (13oz) Gordon Biersch Willibecher glass
$30 entrance, 2 drink tickets, and 1 Litre (33oz) Gordon Biersch stein mug
$50 entrance, 4 drink tickets, and Gordon Biersch stein mug

Drink Tickets:

1 ticket fills a Willibecher or half a Stein
2 tickets fills a Stein
Additional drink tickets = $5

Given the past Gordon Biersch events I’ve been to, I expect this one to quickly become a local favorite. More information is below for those unfamiliar with the history of Gordon Biersch.

Beers from Gordon Biersch

All of Gordon Biersch’s beer is brewed in strict adherence to the German Purity Law, a traditional German brewing philosophy that dates to 1487. In the declaration issued by Albert IV, Duke of Bavaria, it was stated that the only ingredients used in the production of beer should be water, barley, and hops. This traditional approach has been a cornerstone of Gordon Biersch’s brewing philosophy since brewmaster Dan Gordon established the company’s first brewery restaurant with restauranteur Dean Biersch in Palo Alto in 1988. Gordon was the first American in 40 years to graduate from the five-year brewing program at Technical University of Munich, the most prestigious brewing program in the world.

About Gordon Biersch

Dan Gordon first met Dean Biersch in 1987 through a mutual friend. Gordon was one of the most sought-after brewers in the country, while restaurateur and beer lover Biersch was looking for a partner to open a brewery restaurant.

Their mutual vision was clear from the start: a monument to beer, where people could come drink freshly-brewed beer and have a great meal. They would serve authentic, German-style beers in the tradition of the blends Gordon brewed while attending the Technical University of Munich, considered the world’s most renowned brewing school. Their beer has always been brewed according to the age-old German Purity Law of beer known as Reinheitsgebot, utilizing only the finest ingredients: Hallertauer hops, two-row malted barley, and a special yeast strain imported directly from Germany.

In 1988, they opened their first brewery restaurant in Palo Alto. Since then, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants have opened across the United States and world to include locations from California to Florida and even Taiwan.

The organization took its next major step in 1997 when it opened a state-of-the-art brewery and bottling facility in San Jose’s Japantown neighborhood.

Since 1998, Gordon Biersch Brewing Company has more than doubled its production, increasing its capacity to 3.1 million gallons of beer annually, making the company the largest brewery in the San Francisco Bay Area.

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

Gordon Biersch 25th Anniversary, Plus Interview with Co-Founder Dan Gordon

Gordon Biersch celebrates 25 years of authentic German-style brewing
Gordon Biersch celebrates 25 years of authentic German-style brewing

Dan Gordon and Dean Biersch founded Gordon Biersch in 1988 with the goal of making the most authentic German-style lagers outside of Germany.

Twenty-five years later, Gordon reflects, “I can’t believe it, actually. When Dean and I started, we never thought 25 years. Being here, having the brewery in San Jose where I was born in an area where I had my college job working in the canneries located around it, it’s so hard to believe that this actually happened.”

When asked about his proudest achievement, Gordon says, “I think it’s our dedication to authenticity and not compromising on how we brew our beer. … Our focal point has always been to brew authentic German-style beers and make them balanced and drinkable, and to maintain the highest levels of standards for brewing according to German purity law. It’s going to be how we continue to brew our beers, and we’re hoping people continue to accept that.”

To celebrate its silver anniversary, Gordon Biersch will host a “Big Bands, Brews & BBQ” event this Saturday, 2-7pm, at its state-of-the-art brewing and bottling facility in San Jose’s Japantown. The theme represents Gordon’s two passions—jazz and, of course, making beer. Tickets are $10 and available online at gbanniversary.brownpapertickets.com or payable by cash at the door.

Two glasses or six tastes of Gordon Biersch beers as well as a commemorative glass are included. Additional glasses and tastes can be purchased, along with food designed to pair with the beers, including 18-hour Texas smoked-beef brisket, pulled-pork sliders and other fare. Gordon Biersch will also serve its trademark garlic fries.

The musical lineup features the San Jose Jazz Festival All-Star Big Band, Pacific Mambo Orchestra, and Carlos Reyes and his Super Group. The beer lineup includes the Czech Style Pilsner, SommerBrau, Marzen, Blonde Bock, Hefeweizen and the limited release Weizen Eisbock, a recent medal winner in the German-style wheat-beer category at the prestigious Great American Beer Festival. There will be guided tours of the brewery—and look for Gordon to play his trombone. Folks can watch him literally tooting his own horn (his joke, not mine).

What are Gordon’s hopes for the next 25 years? “It would be nice to be around, you know. I don’t plan on going anywhere. We want to be San Jose’s brewery representing the amazing San Jose brand, expanding throughout the country, and hopefully exporting abroad, too. We’re not going to stop.”

He adds, “I hope everyone comes out on Saturday. It would be nice to have a full house of people enjoying beer, the bands and the BBQ. It’s all affordable, too. … The event is for the community, to let people know what we’re all about.”

Gordon Biersch 25th Anniversary
Saturday, May 18; 2-7pm; $10 357 E. Taylor St., San Jose.

[This post was shared in Metro Silicon Valley.]

Gordon Biersch Braumeister Selekt Series

Gordon Biersch Brewing Company—not the brewpub but the brewing and bottling facility located on Taylor Street in San Jose—has started offering limited-release, big-bottle beers with special flip-tops as part of the Braumeister Selekt series. The first issue is the Imperial Pilsner Brau, which was released last summer and has garnered much acclaim, enchanting those who’ve been curious to taste a hoppy Gordon Biersch beer.

The Weizen Eisbock, a dark wheat beer released this past fall, has already proven just as popular and well made; in October, it won a bronze medal in the German-style wheat ale category at the Great American Beer Festival. This particular kind of beer is based on a technique accidentally developed by a brewer in Kulmbach, Germany. Water molecules are frozen out of the brew and removed, resulting in a higher alcohol content with a stronger flavor.

“The idea of the big-bottle series was to produce some old school and one-of-a-kind, hard-to-get German beers that were unfiltered and dedicated to authenticity,” shares founder Dan Gordon, a South Bay native—“Born in San Jose. Raised in Los Altos. Went to Homestead High.”

After graduating from UC-Berkeley, Gordon moved to Germany to study at the Technical University of Munich’s prestigious beer-brewing program in Weihenstephan. He learned to brew according to the Reinheitsgebot, a purity law dating back to 1516 that states that beer can only be made with four ingredients: water, hops, malted barley and yeast. Returning home, Dan brought back this beer-making tradition.

Gordon and Dean Biersch opened their first brewery restaurant in Palo Alto in 1988, with the downtown San Jose location opening a couple years later. The brewery and bottling facility opened in 1997. The restaurant side has since been sold, but the two businesses remain “tied at the hip.”

Gordon Biersch’s regular and seasonal lineup of beer styles includes Hefeweizen, Marzen, Blonde Bock, Czech Style Pilsner, Maibock, SommerBrau, WinterBock and FestBier. There is also a special Ÿberbier series, featuring Zwickel Bock, an unfiltered blonde bock, and Zwickel Pils, an unfiltered pilsner to be released in the spring.

The next Braumeister Selekt beer will be the 25th Anniversary Dunkles. Dan says, “It’s the one and only style we brewed at the opening of the original Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant in Palo Alto.” A special celebration to commemorate Gordon Biersch’s 25th anniversary is scheduled for May 18 at the Taylor Street brewery. As for the current Braumeister Selekt offerings, they are available in local beer stores, but I’ve noticed that they’re disappearing quickly from the shops that I go to.

[This post was shared on SanJose.com.]

South Bay Beer Events for Aug. 8-11, 2012

Good beer enjoyed in San Jose
Good beer enjoyed in San Jose

It is a busy four days in the South Bay for beer fans. Yours truly has just returned from an almost three-week trip to Germany, and I apologize for the short notice on this evening’s two beer events.

Wed., Aug. 8, 2012, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.: Catch live music and good beer at Poor House Bistro with “Blues & $2 Brews” featuring Gordon Biersch Brewing Co. 91 South Autumn Street, 408-292-5837. “Tonight we will be featuring Gordon Biersch Brewing Co. at our Blues and $2 Brews so come on in and say hello to the brewer, Dan Gordon. He will be drinking beer and playing trombone with the legendary Ron Thompson. The beer list includes special tapping of a 50 liter Hefeweizen uber keg, Seasonal Summerbrau on draft, Marzen on draft, 22 oz bottles of Imperial Pilsner Brau (IPB) signed by Dan Gordon, and Blonde Bock btl. ($2 Taste, $3 Bottle 12oz, $4 Pint/$15 pitcher, $8 IPB 22 oz bottle (signed by Dan Gordon).”

Wed., Aug. 8, 2012, starting at 7 p.m.: Chef’s Choice Beer and Food Pairing Dinner at Restaurant James Randall. 303 North Santa Cruz Avenue, 408-395-4441. Be sure to call for availability and reservations if you have not done so already.

Thurs., Aug. 9, 2012, starting at 6:00 p.m.: Harry’s Hofbrau in San Jose hosts their weekly Pint Night. Check the Harry’s Hofbrau Facebook page for updates. 390 Saratoga Ave., 408-243-0434. “It only comes around once a year but it is one of our favorite IPAs. Aroma Coma from Drake’s will be only $3.75 a pint this Thursday! Cheers!”

Thurs., Aug. 9, 2012, starting at 6 p.m.: Jack’s Bar & Lounge in Japantown offers up their weekly $2 Pint Night. Check the Jack’s Bar & Lounge Facebook page for updates. 167 East Taylor St., 408-287-5225. This week’s featured beer is the Imperial Pilsner Brau from Gordon Biersch Brewing Co.

Fri., Aug. 10, 2012, starting at 4:30 p.m.: Ninkasi Pint Night at Original Gravity Public House. 66 South First Street. “Come join us this Friday in debuting Ninkasi Brewing to the South Bay at 4:30PM for Ninkasi Pint Night! We’ll have Tricerahops and Oatis on tap and will have some folks from the Brewery to talk about the beer. Free Ninkasi Pint glasses with a purchase of a draft beer of Tricera Hops and Oatis while supplies last!”

Sat., Aug. 11, 2012, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.: SJ Beerwalk in downtown Campbell.

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

 

June 2012: Highlights of Two South Bay Beer Launches – Gordon Biersch Imperial Pilsner Brau and Hermitage Brewing Company Ale de Dieux Biere de Garde

South Bay beer launch at Gordon Biersch Brewing Company in San Jose
Imperial Pilsner Brau Launch Party at Gordon Biersch Brewing Company in San Jose

Last month, there were two special beer launch parties in San Jose and Mountain View. The first took place on Friday, June 15, 2012 along East Taylor Street at the Gordon Biersch brewery and bottling facility in San Jose.

Owner Dan Gordon was on hand to introduce the Imperial Pilsner Brau (IPB), the first in a series of specialty beers with a limited production of 4,000 cases or less to be released throughout the year. The IPB comes in 750 ml. bottles with German swing-top enclosures.

Dan Gordon and friends at the Gordon Biersch Imperial Pilsner Brau launch party at Gordon Biersch Brewing Company in San Jose
Dan Gordon and friends at the Gordon Biersch Imperial Pilsner Brau launch party at Gordon Biersch Brewing Company in San Jose

The Imperial Pilsner Brau (6.5% ABV/50 IBU) poured a golden yellow and provided a unique and refreshing aroma and taste of a hoppy pilsner. It is an “intensely hopped, robust pilsner that emphasizes the noble hops from Central Europe, including Hallertau, Tettnang, Spalt and Saaz… and brewed in accordance with the German Purity Law of 1516.”

Gordon Biersch Imperial Pilsner Brau
Gordon Biersch Imperial Pilsner Brau

With a live jazz band, food catered by Sino and Straits Cafe, and plenty of the Imperial Pilsner Brau, the launch party for the Imperial Pilsner Brau was an elegant and memorable event.

Celebrating the launch of Gordon Biersch Imperial Pilsner Brau at Gordon Biersch Brewing Company in San Jose
Celebrating the launch of Imperial Pilsner Brau at Gordon Biersch Brewing Company in San Jose
Gordon Biersch Brewing Company in San Jose
Gordon Biersch Brewing Company in San Jose

The second beer release and tasting party took place on Friday, June 22, 2012 at Tied House Cafe & Brewery in Mountain View by invitation only. The occasion also served as an informal party to welcome multiple award-winning Steve Donohue to the brewing team.

South Bay beer launch at Tied House in Mountain View
Hermitage Brewing Ale de Dieux Biere de Garde beer launch at Tied House in Mountain View

The featured beer was the Hermitage Brewing Company Ale de Dieux Biere de Garde, a traditional farmhouse ale popular in the northern French countryside. It is “the brainchild of our brewer Peter Licht. He fell in love with this beer style while studying abroad in northern France almost 30 years ago and has wanted to re-create that memory ever since.”

Hermitage Brewing Ale de Dieux biere de garde release party at Tied House in Mountain View
Pours of Hermitage Brewing Ale de Dieux Biere de Garde at Tied House in Mountain View

The Ale de Dieux (9.2% ABV/26 IBU) poured a dark amber color, and the description for this beer is spot on: “It is complex and warming with subtle notes of spice and oak, while still being exceptionally smooth.” Look for the Ale de Dieux either on tap at Tied House for a limited time or in 750 ml bottles at select California retail locations (just 300 cases distributed).

Peter Licht recalls the inspiration behind the Hermitage Brewing Ale de Dieux biere de garde
Peter Licht (left) recalls the inspiration behind the Hermitage Brewing Ale de Dieux Biere de Garde with Hermitage/Tied House Marketing Director Carolyn Hopkins-Vasquez, Mike Pitsker of Celebrator Beer News, brewer Steve Donohue and Hermitage lead brewer Greg Filippi carrying his baby boy

Director of Marketing Carolyn Hopkins-Vasquez introduced the brewing team of Tied House and Hermitage Brewing – brewmasters Ron Manabe and Peter Licht, along with brewers Greg Filippi and the newest team member Steve Donohue, reuniting him with Peter Licht from their days at Coast Range Brewing.

Ron Manabe and Peter Licht at the Hermitage Brewing Ale de Dieux biere de garde release party at Tied House in Mountain View
Ron Manabe and Peter Licht at the Hermitage Brewing Ale de Dieux Biere de Garde release party at Tied House in Mountain View

Along with a pour of the limited-release Biere de Garde, there were other Tied House and Hermitage beers as well as appetizers, all of which helped to make for a fun – and tasty – evening.

Steve Donohue (left) and Peter Licht (right) at the Hermitage Brewing Ale de Dieux biere de garde release party at Tied House in Mountain View
Steve Donohue (left) and Peter Licht (right) at the Hermitage Brewing Ale de Dieux Biere de Garde release party at Tied House in Mountain View
Greg Filippi at the Hermitage Brewing Ale de Dieux biere de garde release party at Tied House in Mountain View
Greg Filippi at the Hermitage Brewing Ale de Dieux Biere de Garde release party at Tied House in Mountain View
Mike Pitsker of Celebrator Beer News at the Hermitage Brewing Ale de Dieux biere de garde release party at Tied House in Mountain View
Mike Pitsker of Celebrator Beer News at the Hermitage Brewing Ale de Dieux Biere de Garde release party at Tied House in Mountain View

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

A Brief History of Craft Beer in the South Bay

Meet the Brewers at Hermitage Brewing Company, Feb. 19, 2011
Meet the Brewers at Hermitage Brewing Company, Feb. 19, 2011

It was the Feb. 2011 second annual Meet the Brewers beer festival held at San Jose’s Hermitage Brewing Company that provided me more than just a memorable beer experience. Truth be told, my wife and I had originally gone mainly for the food trucks, but when in Rome…

I tried a refreshing Tied House Brewery wheat beer which served as a prelude to the Campbell Brewing hefeweizen with its pleasant combination of sweetness and bitterness. My wife, who is from Bavaria, heartily approved.

After talking with the pourers – many of whom were the actual brewers – about their beers, I opted for unfamiliar-to-me beer styles next.

The Uncommon Brewers organic brown ale had a flavor profile of roasted nuts and a slight bitterness. Seabright Brewery’s oatmeal stout poured black and smooth with hints of dark chocolate. Finally, there was the Faultine Brewery porter, a dark beer that smelled and tasted of roasted coffee beans.

The beers were tasty; they also paired well with our Korean tacos and burritos that we got from one of the aforementioned food trucks.

We left relatively early and did not sample any more beers from the other breweries, but thanks in large part to this beer festival, I gained a new hobby – to learn more about beer and the wide range of beer styles while checking out the local beer scene.

We began complementing our already existing wine rituals with beer exploration. I’d go online and learn about solid examples of various beer styles and match that information with the selections at nearby stores that sold craft beer.

I stayed up-to-date with Peter Estaniel’s BetterBeerBlog to see if there was anything new going on in the South Bay.

In April 2011, the first KraftBrew Beer Fest – organized by Naglee Park Garage – took place at the historic San Jose Woman’s Club, and we tried a larger selection of different styles of domestic and international beers.

Some beer styles we enjoyed from the first sip (IPA for my wife), while others we grew to appreciate over time (IPA for me).

Events like the Meet the Brewers beer festival and the KraftBrew Beer Fest not only provided opportunities to discover the wide variety of beer styles, but they also showed that there are plenty of folks in the area interested in good beer.

For the next year-and-a-half, our appreciation for beer and the local beer scene would continue to grow, and for me in particular become a passion as I started blogging and writing about the local beer scene.

Local Craft Beer Boom

As recently as late 2008, William Brand wrote that the South Bay was a craft beer desert, but from our ventures out to local beer spots, stores and events, we learned that Brand’s observation was surely evolving.

Beer enthusiasts no longer had to routinely drive at least 45 minutes to try the latest touted, hard-to-get beer. There were establishments that made and carried great beer right here, from Morgan Hill through San Jose to Palo Alto.

We observed first hand the growing demand for – and distribution of – good beer, a relatively recent development according to a number of longer-term South Bay beer fans. The various, possible reasons for why the South Bay was such a latecomer continue to be discussed (and might perhaps be a topic in a future write-up).

Fortunately, such discussions these days often end on a positive note; many beer drinkers throughout the South Bay are enjoying the current craft beer boom and imagining the potential for the local area.

Craft Beer Movement and the South Bay

“Craft beer” – as defined by the Brewers Association – refers to beer made by a “small, independent, and traditional” brewing company. Such definitions illustrate the contrast between local and regional craft beer brewing companies and the giant, macro brewing companies that still dominate the overall beer market.

But according to recent numbers released by the Brewers Association in March, overall beer volume sales are down while the U.S. craft brewing industry continues to grow in volume and dollar sales. More beer drinkers are trying craft beer and learning about the various aspects that make craft beer more compelling compared to macro beer.

This nationwide growth within the craft beer segment reflects the growing interest and demand for craft beer here locally. A number of recent developments highlight the increasing popularity of craft beer within our region – from the popular and successful beer festivals to the growth of local brewing companies like Hermitage and Strike, as well as a new San Jose brewery that is in the works.

Greg Filippi - Lead Brewer at Hermitage Brewing Company, May 18, 2012
Greg Filippi – Lead Brewer at Hermitage Brewing Company, May 18, 2012

The Bay Brewers Guild, a collective of brewers representing the South Bay and nearby Santa Cruz and Monterey areas, continues to take shape, while the spotlight on the beers made at our local brewpubs – and the brewers who make them – grows bigger and brighter.

More establishments are offering craft beer in the South Bay and taking care to ensure that their staff are knowledgeable enough about beer to be able to make just the right recommendation to both beer enthusiasts and newbies alike.

Restaurant James Randall in Los Gatos has joined California Café (both the Palo Alto and Los Gatos locations) in hosting a growing number of beer-and-food-pairing events.

With craft beer’s growing popularity, it’s no surprise that more folks are interested in homebrewing and joining homebrew clubs. “We receive several inquiries a month from new homebrewers… where even just a year ago inquiries were much more infrequent,” says Derek Wolfgram, president of the homebrew club Silicon Valley Sudzers.

And there is a growing list of craft beer-centric businesses that have just opened or are set to open this year.

In downtown San Jose, the list includes craft beer bars Original Gravity Public House and ISO: Beers, and restaurant Blackbird Tavern.

In Campbell, there is Liquid Bread beer bar. In Mountain View, there are Jane’s Beer Store, South Bay’s first specialty beer store, and Steins Beer Garden + Restaurant.

History and Emergence of the South Bay Beer Scene: Breweries

Even hardcore South Bay beer fans might be surprised to learn that the valley had its share of early breweries, as cited in the 1992 book The Bars of Santa Clara County: A Beer Drinker’s Guide to Silicon Valley co-written by Bay Area beer scribe Jay Brooks and Karen Knezevich.

These breweries produced predominantly German-style beers and included Eagle Brewery (San Jose, 1853), Fredericksburg Brewery (San Jose, 1856), and other San Jose breweries opening between 1875 and 1905, including San Jose Brewery, Louis Krumb’s Brewery, and the St. Claire Brewing Company. After breweries such as these closed, there were no local South Bay breweries until the mid-1980s.

Breweries like Winchester Brewery and Palo Alto Brewing Company would come and go, but not before making their impact.

In 1986, Pete Slosberg launched Pete’s Wicked Ales in Mountain View thanks to Palo Alto Brewing Company and Bob Stoddard, of whom Slosberg refers to as “one of the first, true pioneers” in craft brewing.

Stoddard would later open his eponymous Brewhouse & Eatery in Sunnyvale in 1993 (now FireHouse Grill & Brewery) and in Campbell in 2002 (now Campbell Brewing Company/Sonoma Chicken Coop).

Mountain View’s Tied House Brewery opened in 1988, and later in the same year Dan Gordon and Dean Biersch opened the first Gordon Biersch brewery restaurant in Palo Alto.

The second Gordon Biersch opened in downtown San Jose in 1990, replacing a brewpub that had closed in four months, proving in part that South Bay native Gordon – “Born in San Jose. Grew up in Los Altos,” he shares – had a strong case of South Bay pride. Gordon would go on to open a brewery and bottling facility in San Jose in 1997.

Dan Gordon, June 26, 2012
Dan Gordon, June 26, 2012

Los Gatos Brewing Company opened in 1991 with their downtown San Jose location opening in 2010.

El Toro Brewing Company started in 1992 with the opening of their Morgan Hill brewpub in 2006.

Additional breweries and restaurants would open, including Sunnyvale’s Faultline Brewing Company in 1994.

“We have breweries here in the South Bay that have been around for a while, and it’s nice to see people appreciating beer more,” states Campbell Brewing’s brewmaster Jim Turturici.

Steve Donohue, currently brewing at Hermitage while working on the initial stages of opening Santa Clara Valley Brewing Company in San Jose, asks that people give South Bay breweries a chance and says, “I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

Steve Donohue and Peter Licht (Brewmaster at Hermitage Brewing Company), June 22, 2012
Steve Donohue and Peter Licht (Brewmaster at Hermitage Brewing Company), June 22, 2012

Craft Beer Bars and More

Moving along the local craft beer landscape, every beer region has its share of go-to hangouts for good beer. Since last year, Harry’s Hofbrau in San Jose has become a destination for the South Bay craft beer community. General manager Kevin Olcese has earned a solid reputation for his beer knowledge and passion, for bringing in hard-to-get beers on tap, and for informing customers via Facebook of the latest beer arrivals.

Kevin Olcese, June 26, 2012
Kevin Olcese, June 26, 2012

Olcese, however, is quick to give credit to Palo Alto’s Rose & Crown Pub and San Jose’s Wine Affairs – “They’re huge,” he simply says – for helping to pave the way in the beer scene, contributing greatly to the American and micro/craft beer knowledge base among local beer drinkers.

Kasim Syed took over the Rose & Crown in 2006 with an immediate goal to bring better quality beers along with beers that other places didn’t have. His second goal was to get people to try these different beers and get his customers to change their tastes. On a moment’s notice, he would drive to Santa Rosa to pick up a single keg of the latest Russian River Brewing Company offering – all to get more people to try different styles of beer.

As for the growing number of local beer spots, Syed says, “It’s not a competition. It’s about giving people choices; there’s more fun with more choices. These are happy times right now.”

Kasim Syed, June 27, 2012
Kasim Syed, June 27, 2012

Owner Diane Chang-Laurent remembers opening Wine Affairs in November 2007 with only five Belgian beers in bottles. But the customers, including mostly homebrewers at the beginning, would constantly request various beers from particular breweries. The beer focus really took shape in 2009.

Chang-Laurent says, “All the credit goes to the customers. They pushed me, and I listened.” As for the growing number of beer spots opening up in the South Bay, she says, “The more, the better. Plus, competition is always good.”

Diane Chang-Laurent, June 28, 2012
Diane Chang-Laurent, June 28, 2012

In downtown San Jose, Ryan Summers opened Good Karma Vegan Café in 2006 and has worked quietly yet diligently on bringing and maintaining a quality rotating craft beer selection – currently 15 beers on tap – for Good Karma’s loyal following. The new beer-centric establishments will “create a draw for everybody and help us take the customer experience even further as each of us continues to think about how to stand out.”

Ryan Summers, May 17, 2012
Ryan Summers, May 17, 2012

The craft beer focus began in 2008 for Bobby’s Liquors in Santa Clara thanks to Sukhjeev Singh, better known as Dee to his customers. Among the varied bottled craft beers in stock, Bobby’s offers a well-regarded collection of hard-to-get bottled sour ales.

Look for Dee and his wife to open ISO: Beers in downtown San Jose later this fall, which he says is “a beer bar and tasting lounge that will offer about 2,000 refrigerated, bottled craft beers and feature 50 to 60 craft beers on tap starting out.”

San Jose’s Naglee Park Garage and Jack’s Bar & Lounge, while providing respectable craft beer offerings, are coordinating large-scale South Bay beer events, like the Garage’s upcoming Summer KraftBrew Beer Fest (their third KraftBrew installment), taking place in downtown San Jose on Saturday, July 21. Event goers will get to enjoy a variety of beer styles along with great food and music in a festive atmosphere.

The next South Bay Beerwalk hosted by Jack’s (their third beerwalk) takes place in Campbell on Saturday, August 11, providing the opportunity to check out downtown Campbell while sampling beers from Northern California.

South Bay Craft Beer Scene Going Forward

Having been born and raised in San Jose (and still living here), I have seen various communities spring up over the years, communities bonded by a myriad of cultural facets, like art, music, food, sports and technology. We can now include craft beer; co-owner Dan Phan of Original Gravity Public House notes, “Beer is the universal beverage that has been bringing people together on common ground for thousands of years.”

Dan Phan and Johnny Wang, April 9, 2012
Dan Phan and Johnny Wang, April 9, 2012
Dan Phan and Johnny Wang, June 28, 2012
Dan Phan and Johnny Wang, June 28, 2012

The late esteemed English writer and journalist Michael Jackson wrote in his 1997 book The New World Guide to Beer, “The world always knew that beer was a noble and complex drink, but, for a moment in history, that was forgotten. Now it is being remembered.”

Indeed, many folks, including Dan Gordon, have felt the momentum for good beer building in the South Bay ever since the 80s and 90s. Fast forward to today, and there is no doubting the momentum. Notable Bay Area beer editor and writer Mike Pitsker agrees that the South Bay beer scene is on the up-and-up. And brewer Steve Donohue adds the capstone comment, “We’re just scratching the surface.”

[An abridged version of this post was shared as the cover story in the annual beer issue for Metro Silicon Valley.]



San Jose Area Beer News and Events for June 18-24, 2012: Successful Gordon Biersch Imperial Pilsner Brau Launch and Inaugural Los Gatos Brewing Company Firkin Fest

Dan Gordon of Gordon Biersch Brewery enjoying a glass of Imperial Pilsner Brau during the June 15, 2012 Imperial Pilsner Brau launch party in San Jose
Dan Gordon of Gordon Biersch Brewery enjoying a glass of Imperial Pilsner Brau during the June 15, 2012 Imperial Pilsner Brau launch party in San Jose

The following is a collection of recent San Jose beer news and a list of craft beer events in San Jose and the greater South Bay for the upcoming week and beyond. As events may change from time to time, please do check with the establishment directly, especially if you are extra excited about a particular event.

Recent beer news

  • A successful launch party featuring the new limited release Gordon Biersch Imperial Pilsner Brau (6.5% ABV, 50 IBU) took place this past week at the Gordon Biersch brewery and bottling facility in San Jose with co-founder Dan Gordon. “This is an intensely hopped, robust Pilsner that emphasizes the noble hops from central Europe including Hallertau, Tettnang, Spalt and Saaz. It has been brewed in accordance with the German Purity Law of 1516. Our IPB is naturally carbonated and unfiltered.”
  • Los Gatos Brewing Company and brewmaster Kent Wheat hosted the inaugural Los Gatos Brewing Company Firkin Fest 2012 at their San Pedro Square location in San Jose yesterday, June 16, 2012. The heat did not deter people from coming out to enjoy fresh beer. A huge turnout had the opportunity to sample beer from nine breweries, including Tied House, Hermitage, Magnolia, Drake’s, Strike, Los Gatos Brewing, Seabright, FireHouse, and Faultline at Los Gatos Brewing’s outdoor patio.
Glassware and drink tokens from the inaugural Los Gatos Brewing Company Firkin Fest in San Jose on Saturday, June 16, 2012
Glassware and drink tokens from the inaugural Los Gatos Brewing Company Firkin Fest in San Jose on Saturday, June 16, 2012
Brewmaster Kent Wheat of Los Gatos Brewing Company - the mastermind of the inaugural LGBC Firkin Fest 2012 in San Jose
Brewmaster Kent Wheat of Los Gatos Brewing Company – the mastermind of the inaugural LGBC Firkin Fest 2012 in San Jose

Beer events this upcoming week

  • Mon., June 18, 2012, 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.: San Jose’s Wine Affairs releases Parabola from Firestone Walker. 1435 The Alameda, 408-977-0111. “The most aggressive beer from their Proprietor’s Reserve Series, the 2012 Parabola is a bourbon-barrel aged Imperial Stout released just last month. We have 24 bottles and one keg we’ve been hoarding for this special occasion. Keg will be tapped at 5pm sharp and bottles will be available all day! To-go and club discounts apply. Three bottle limit per customer.”
  • Tues., June 19, 2012, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.: Rock Bottom Campbell taps their Summer Honey Ale. Passed appetizers, $3 Summer Honey Ales, keep the glass (while supplies last), and meet and greet with the brewmaster.
  • Tues., June 19, 2012, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.: Gordon Biersch San Jose taps their limited time Summerbrau, “a golden, refreshing Kölsch-style beer from Cologne, with just a hint of fruitiness.” Live music on their patio and complimentary passed appetizers.
  • Tues., June 19, 2012, 4 p.m. – closing: The Counter Santana Row, offers a “Mix-It-Up” 4 mini burger & beer pairings, including Devil’s Canyon Full Boar Scotch Ale and Lagunitas IPA. 3055 Olin Ave., 408-423-9200.
  • Wed., June 20, 2012, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.: Catch live music and good beer at Poor House Bistro with “Blues & $2 Brews” featuring Knee Deep Brewing Company. 91 South Autumn Street, 408-292-5837.
South bay beer fans Joe (left), Antony (center), Russ and David (right) at a recent pint night at Harry's Hofbrau in San Jose
South bay beer fans Joe (left), Antony (center), Russ and David (right) at a recent pint night at Harry’s Hofbrau in San Jose
South Bay beer enthusiasts Joe (left) and Antony (right) at a recent pint night at Harry's Hofbrau in San Jose
South Bay beer enthusiasts Joe (left) and Antony (right) at a recent pint night at Harry’s Hofbrau in San Jose
Jack's Bar & Lounge in Japantown, San Jose
Jack’s Bar & Lounge in Japantown, San Jose
The taps at Jack's Bar & Lounge in Japantown, San Jose hosts weekly Thursday pint nights
The taps at Jack’s Bar & Lounge in Japantown, San Jose hosts weekly Thursday pint nights
  • Fri., June 22, 2012: BevMo! stores host weekly Beer Tasting events on Fridays. Check your local BevMo! store for details.

Looking ahead: Save the date

  • Sat., June 30, 2012, 12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.: The 3rd Annual Santa Cruz Hop N’ Barley Festival takes place in Scotts Valley.
  • Sat., July 21, 2012, 12 p.m. – 8 p.m.: The Summer KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012 will take place in downtown San Jose on Post Street between Market and South First Streets.

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]