Palo Alto Weekly

Eating Out - October 7, 2011

Thoughts from a brewmaster

Brewmaster Jeff Held of Gordon Biersch Palo Alto offers some insight on how to best enjoy beer from a bottle, the difference between lagers and ales, and other sudsy tidbits:

On drinking beer out of a glass rather than a bottle: "(Bottled) beer has carbon dioxide in it, and much like when it's pouring from a tap, you want that carbon dioxide to release. So as you pour the beer into a glass, the bubbles will start to form and flow out of the glass, releasing different aromas and, when you drink it, flavors."

On ales and lagers: "The difference between ales and lagers is the yeast that you use. A lager yeast likes to work in cool temperature, 50 degrees instead of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. And a lager takes a long time to ferment, seven to 10 days, whereas an ale takes two to three days. A lager is not better than an ale nor an ale over a lager, just different yeasts."

On finding the right brew pub: "If you go to a brew pub and you taste their lightest beer, and it tastes clean and fresh, then you probably know you're in for a good trip."

On beer color and alcohol content: "A lot of people will associate the color of beer with the strength of beer, but they're completely unrelated."

On Gordon-Biersch's most popular brew: "Our Marzen is the No. 1 seller with the exception of when we release a new seasonal. The new seasonal, depending on which one it is, will outsell Marzen for a week or two and then Marzen will fall right back into first place. It's usually between 35 and 40 percent of our beer sales."

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