Gordon Biersch: The Airport Brewery Redeemer

There was no hope.  LA, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, London.  En route to San Francisco, all faith was lost.  Anchor and 21st Amendment Brewery deliver, but the city is not notorious for its beer culture.

Alcohol Tourism - Gordon Biersch Plane

Three weeks ago, Boston and London greeted me through their airports.  Boston is home to the Sam Adams Brewing Company, one of the largest ‘craft’ brewers in the US.  The tap room in the airport serves some of their beers- the most interesting of which was their Irish Red- and Budweiser.  People packed the bar from end-to-end, leaving no space for a nice, quiet pint.  Heathrow was a wasteland for good drink.  These airports primed me for disappointment.

Hartsfield-Jackson houses Sweetwater and the Atlanta Chophouse and Brewery.  As the first stop on our journey, we hoped to start with some decent beer.  The crowds overwhelmed at Sweetwater and the beer underwhelmed.  Atlanta Chophouse and Brewery carried none of their own brews.Alcohol Tourism - Matilda

Onwards to Chicago, where Goose Island pours their 312, Honker Ale, Green Line, 312 (again), Matilda, and, yes, Budweiser.  “It’s a Belgian” was the bartender’s response to a query about Matilda.  Susan’s remark on Matilda, “If someone doesn’t know how Belgian beer should taste, this will teach them.”  Light on the palate while retaining a malt forward character and dominated by the Belgian character, this was the first good offering we had encountered.  There was still no sign of a stout, porter, or even a Scottish ale yet.

Bounce through San Francisco, with the Gordan Biersch chain representing craft beer at the airport.  Doubt filled us.  Aside from two sisters playing rock-paper-scissors to decide on who should order first, the restaurant was as empty and eerie as a Kansas truck stop at four in the morning.  No Budweiser on tap here- just four of their own ales, three of which we ordered.  We were deemed suitable to have only two beers at a time, so two enormous glasses packed with beer appeared.  Finally, a great lineup!  Marzen is a style which many breweries do, in the form of Oktoberfest beers, but is hard to get just right.  Gordan Biersch succeeded, with a light malt character with little sweetness in the mid palate and a clean finish.  Banana aroma and flavor oozed from the hefeweizen, sending Susan straight to heaven.  We miss our stouts, but Gordan Biersch had delivered.

Our hope and faith in airport brewpubs restored, we were fortified for the balance of our journey to Melbourne.  As long as this blog remains small, and therefore the secrets of Gordan Biersch undiscovered, we look forward to Gordan Biersch continuing to be a quiet and delicious stop when heading through San Francisco airport.

Alcohol Tourism - Gordon Biersch Draft

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4 thoughts on “Gordon Biersch: The Airport Brewery Redeemer

  1. Most of the breweries you mention I would label as a bit larger than a micro-brewery thus their product is prone to disappoint. If they can afford to be in an airport, then they probably don’t have the care they once had in their products.

    • Yep, I would in general agree, which is sad. Our overall impression of chain microbreweries has been that the beer is fairly bland and targeting a broad audience with a less discerning palate. However, BJ’s and Gordon Biersch have produced excellent beers for us. The hefeweizen at BJ’s in Roseville was a nice example in a stellar lineup. Have you encountered any good small-operation brewpubs or breweries in airports?

      • I can’t say that I have. I do try to hit local breweries when on the road though. The food trucks that sit outside most make for a great dining option. Plus, they allow brewers to concentrate on what they do best…brewing!

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