My girlfriend was in town a while back, and as always we were looking for some cheap, quality beer. I had passed Gordon Biersch brewery/restaurant in San Diego millions of times while driving along the I-8 West, but I was never interested enough to stop by and check it out. That was until a quick glance at their menu revealed the $4 brews they offer all day on Sundays. Four dollars. Twenty ounces! I was interested.
About Gordon Biersch
Gordon B is kinda like the Joey Votto of breweries. It’s been around longer than most people would think, producing quietly yet consistently and always maintaining an enticing outward appearance. According to their website and the many info placards scattered around the brewery/restaurant, they pride themselves on by-the-books, German style brewing. The fact that they fail to clad their waitresses in dirndls makes me question their commitment, though.
Though technically a “craft brewery,” Gordon B lacked everything in the starter pack with the exception of the chalkboard beer list and the bare-bones industrial lighting. It definitely gave off more of a BJs vibe than a brewery vibe.
They were founded in the late ’80s and as such never really latched onto the trend of giving their beers weird names. They were offering six beers on draft, and I chose the Hefeweizen, which was both the individual beer’s name and the type of beer it was. I suppose you could call it the “GB Hefeweizen,” if you wanted to give it proper branding, but I suspect even that name is a bit too silly by German standards.
The Hefeweizen was advertised as “fruity and spicy.” I was astounded that they managed to bottle my personality, so I had to give it a try.
Beer Appearance: It looked like if you mixed the orange Gatorade flavor with that weird white one that no one drinks. It was a light gold in color, similar to what you’d find in the toilet bowl when you wake up all dehydrated in the morning. When swirled it around, the beer had a nice, white head — crisp and clean, not creamy. The little bubbles popping on the sides of the glass reminded me vividly of TV static. This says nothing about the quality of the beer, of course.
Smell: It smelled like someone squeezed some grapefruits and oranges into otherwise normal beer. A little wheaty, as I presumed it would smell since it was a beer.
Taste and Overall Impressions
My first impression — and the most accurate one in my mind — was that the Hefeweizen tasted exactly like the smell of those fake fruits your abuela puts out around the Winter Holidays. You could call them pot pourri, I guess. The Hefeweizen didn’t exactly taste as strong as your standard pot pourri smells; it was more… muted. It was fruity, vaguely spicy in a cinnamon sorta way, with just a hint of plastic and wheat. Don’t get me wrong, that description’s a compliment.
It’s actually a pretty clean-tasting beer — refreshing, easy to drink, and sans significant bitterness (only 12 IBU). I imagine (and I had to imagine since I was at a fine dining establishment and not amongst seasoned frat stars) that it’s a highly chuggable beer.
The thing I wasn’t a big fan of was the lingering taste it left on the palate. That plastic/wheat taste hybrid came on a little too strong. If you waited a few minutes between sips, it became a bit nutty. Kinda like the taste peanut butter leaves in your mouth an hour after you eat it — peanut butter on nonsalted crackers mixed with the airiness of what I imagine Styrofoam probably tastes like. It wasn’t awful, and it certainly encouraged me to shorten the time between sips.
The Hefeweizen at Gordon Biersch is not a bad beer by any means. I don’t foresee it cracking my top ten anytime soon, but I’d keep it in mind next time I’m craving something fruity, wheaty, and easy to drink… and $.20 per ounce.
Suggested for: Beer rookies, people who dislike “hoppiness,” lite beer drinkers looking to expand their horizons, people seeking to pound quality brews in quaint settings.
ABV: 5.5% IBUs: 12