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Other Letters From America

My First Decent Pint...

Well I arrived in Los Angeles on Saturday 8th September at 9.00pm, experienced my first apparently ‘minor’ earthquake on the Sunday afternoon, which registered at 4.2 on the Brown Pants Scale, and the appalling events that followed on the Tuesday are now well documented and registered in the annals of History. What a time to start work in the land of the Infidels !!!

That tragedy aside, I managed to get to my first home brew pub the following weekend. Armed with a couple of guides and some information from the Internet, I eventually arrived at the Gordon Biersch Brewery in Pasadena at around 3.00pm on the following Sunday afternoon.

The Gordon Biersch Brewery, Pasadena is actually one of a rapidly expanding chain of brewery-cum-restaurants founded in 1988 in Palo Alto, California by Dan Gordon and Dean Biersch. They are now headquartered in Las Vegas. Dean Biersch is the Restaurateur, whilst Dan Gordon is the man behind the brewing. Being one of only a handful of Americans to have graduated at Weihenstephan Brewing School, one of Germanys most prestigious, his credentials are second to none. This is carried through to his beers, they are brewed from natural ingredients (no rice or beechwood chips here!) which are all imported from Germany. The Brewery, which is visible through large glass windows at the end of bar, is also imported from Germany and is state-of-the-art all stainless equipment. The Teutonic theme is continued through to his beers, which are all brewed in accordance with Germany's tough Purity Laws, the Reinheitsgebot. I really like the way this chain is set-up, make no mistake this is not your run-of-the-mill JD Wetherspoons or Firkin brew-pub. All beers are brewed and aged on the premises and are brewed only for that particular location (see below). Even the Bartenders that work here must spend at least one day working in the Brewery Section, what an excellent idea.

The GBB outlet in Pasadena is set in the revitalised and trendy Old Town area. Hugus Alley is located just off the main drag, Colorado Boulevard, in a mid-size courtyard (called One Colorado). This is a very hip and trendy brick-courtyard full of Cafes and upmarket Art & Craft Shops, typical of those found in say York.

The Brewery is very spacious, and comprises of an outside patio area overlooking the courtyard, internal restaurant area, as well as a traditional ‘Cheers style’ Bar area. I was not here for the food, so headed straight for the Bar Area and made myself comfortable on one of the twenty or so high stools that run the length of the mahogany-panelled and marble topped bar. The only thing that spoiled it for me was the ubiquitous TV’s hanging above the Bar, albeit the sound was muted. Can’t understand why they have four TV’s, all showing different Channels with no Sound ? – Must be a culture thing.

Three Beers were available when I was there; an Export, a Märzer and a Dunkles. A fourth Special is usually available at certain times of the year. Blonde Bock from February to March, Maibock from April to June, Hefelweizen from July to September, a Fest Bier from September to October with a Winterbock to round off the year from December to January.

The Beers are based on German Lagers, with the exception of the Hefelweizen. The Export is a light pilsner style lager, which is very refreshing, and whilst bar watching appeared to be the most popular. At $4.25 a Half-Litre (roughly £3.00 a Pint !) its not cheap by UK standards. Märzer is a well-balanced amber coloured lager, whilst the Dunkles has caramel and toffee in the aftertaste. Unfortunately, whilst I was there, no Special was available, however, the bartender informed me that the Fest Bier, would be available from the 24th September onwards. Damn, I’ll just have to come back.

So what do the beers taste like, nothing short of absolutely excellent. The quality of microbreweries in the US is generally high, but the standards appear to be ever improving, certainly since my last trip to the US some 6 years ago.

The Brewery is just half of the operation, I really ought to mention the Food. The same extremely high standards are evident here as well. The Brewery has won many wards for its appetisers and meals. Portions are, well, typically American. Food is important to Americans and for a Bar to make it over here, the food is just as important as the Beer.

I left the Bar after sampling the Brews and a Meal. The quality of both – extremely high and unquestionable. How refreshing to go a Brew-Pub and actually be able to discuss the Brewery and Beers with any of the staff chosen at random. Surely a hiring policy some bars over in the UK should think hard about.

Should anyone be travelling out this way the details are as follows;

GORDON BIERSCH BREWERY,41 Hugus Alley(At One Colorado) Pasadena

CA 91103-3644 Web : www.gordonbiersch.com  Tel: (626) 449 0052 Fax :(626) 449 0067 Hours Sun -Thurs 11:00am-Midnight Fri& Sat 11:00am to 1.00 am