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Bar Review: Gordon Biersch

Submitted by on December 9, 2009 – 12:27 PMNo Comment
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Gordon Biersch
900 F St
Washington, DC
Tel: 202.783.5454

Hours of Operation:
Mon. – Thurs.    11 AM – 12 AM
Fri. – Sat.     11 AM – 1 AM
Sun.        11 AM – 11 PM

Best time to visit: Happy Hour (4:30 – 6:30 Weekdays)

GBWith locations in over a dozen states, Gordon Biersch is striking a balance between local flavor and corporate consistency.  So, while it may be “wrong” to rate a brew-pub that is part of a national chain, if the beer is brewed on the premises, the establishment is worthy of consideration.

The GB in DC is in the heart of the city, in an exceptionally attractive setting – the former Riggs Bank building, an elegant example of Washington’s historic architecture.  The interior has been made equally appealing, offering a huge, open space, a long and impressive bar, and the sensibilities of an upscale dining establishment.

But there is still a warm, inviting quality which does not discriminate.  One can come in after work, still in suit and tie, or off the street, in a T-shirt and jeans, and feel comfortable.  Part of the reason is the menu, which offers some pricey fare, but also a nice selection of appetizers which are about $5 during happy hour.  Beer prices are also reduced during that time, so it is the best time to go and taste what’s available.

GB specializes in Lagers, and several varieties are on hand at any time.  For the most part they are quite good; the smooth, malty Märzen, for example, is worthy of note.  But occasionally the carbonation is slightly lacking.  The Winterbock bears more of a resemblance to a hand-pulled British Ale than a German seasonal.
This could disappoint, but it comes with the reassurance that the beer is not being shipped from some central factory; it has an undeniable hint of home-brew rawness.  This may not suit everyone, but frustrated homebrewers can come and see to what they might aspire.

Washington’s Gordon Biersch draws its mix of patrons as much for its atmosphere as for its beer, and, like the beer, the atmosphere is deceptively down-to-earth.  The beauty of the space and the obvious care given to its arrangement could be off-putting and snobby, if one is just looking to sit at the bar and enjoy a fresh Lager.  But the TVs behind the bar are tuned to the game(s) of the day, the patrons (a large group, most days) are sociable, and the bartenders are as friendly and attentive as the size of the crowd will permit.

In spite of the corporate reality, Gordon Biersch – at least the one in DC – still feels like a local brew pub.  A huge, elegant, busy brew pub, but a local brew-pub nonetheless.

Pros: Good selection of beer brewed on the premises; great architecture.

Cons: Not locally owned; snob potential.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5