Brew In Town: Gordon Biersch SommerBrau Kölsch

GordonBierschSommerBrauGordon Biersch SommerBrau Kölsch

Where in Town: Gordon Biersch, 900 F St. NW

Price: $6.50/21 oz.

A Breath of Fresh Ale

Lately I find myself reaching for clean, classic styles rather than aggressively flavored beers full of exotic ingredients. Some equate “simple” and “low-alcohol” with “boring,” but there’s nothing more satisfying than a well-balanced brew. And that is exactly what Gordon Biersch delivers. The 25-year-old restaurant chain from California, which now belongs to the same large company that owns the Rock Bottom and Old Chicago brands, is known for making high-quality German-style beers. Pilsner, Märzen, Hefeweizen, Bock—it does them all, and it does them well. Gordon Biersch recently hosted a blind tasting competition of Kölsch beers from 19 mostly mid-Atlantic breweries (including six of its own). The beer voted No. 1 by the public? It was made by Scott Lasater, brewmaster at the downtown D.C. location.

One Swallow Does a Summer Make

Lasater’s version of Gordon Biersch’s summer seasonal, aptly named SommerBrau, looks, smells, and tastes like “sommer” itself. Pilsner and wheat malt give the beer its pale gold color and frothy white head. German Hersbrucker hops impart grass and hay aromas. Sweet at first, the beer’s biscuit and subtle fruit flavors—apple, pear, and white grape—are followed by a crisp, dry finish. Like all Kölsches, SommerBrau is brewed with ale yeast but using lager methods: It’s stored for five weeks at near-freezing temperatures. The result is a refreshing, well-carbonated brew that, at just 4.8 percent alcohol, is easily quaffable. Better hurry, though. Lasater predicts his tap could run dry by the end of Fourth of July weekend.

Photo by Tammy Tuck