Pod 72: Dan Gordon – the man behind Gordon Biersch!

Hilarious Gordon Biersch YouTube video referenced

 The Gordon Biersch way to deliver kegs!

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Sam:                      All right. Let’s bring in our guest today. Sergio, pretty pumped. We’re at Gordon Biersch Brewery and we’re sitting with Dan Gordon.

Sergio:                  We’re not only at Gordon Biersch, we’re at the headquarters of Gordon Biersch in Japantown.

Dan Gordon:      That’s at the brewery.

Sergio:                  At the brewery.

Sam:                      So Dan, we like to ask our guests to give us when a what up when we introduce them here.

Dan Gordon:      Okay. Yeah. What up? We were just bottling today.

Sam:                      Nice.

Sergio:                  Oh, nice.

Dan Gordon:      What a surprise? We bottle about five days a week. [00:00:30] So the likelihood of us bottling is pretty darn good.

Sam:                      And lets kind of just jump right in. You are the co-founder and the COO of Gordon Biersch. And I was doing some research and I saw that you guys do a lot of private labeling and bottling. So are you able to tell us who you’re bottling for today?

Dan Gordon:      No, I’d have to kill you.

Sergio:                  No, absolutely not.

Sam:                      Well, I think it’s pretty public that you guys do bottling for Trader Joe’s and-

Dan Gordon:      No, I’m the Michael Cullen of brewers. I’m going to lie [00:01:00] and get mislead and discredit.

Sam:                      Got it.

Sergio:                  Well, we did see-

Dan Gordon:      But we probably were bottling for one of the brands that we produce for.

Sam:                      Nice.

Dan Gordon:      Yeah. That’s a nice picture that gives some specifics.

Sergio:                  Go figure.

Sam:                      Good stuff. Okay. So everyone knows the brand, especially around here in Silicon Valley in the Bay Area. You can’t go to stay in Marina and not see Gordon Biersch, garlic fries, right?

Sergio:                  Oh, yes.

Dan Gordon:      Not if it’s any quality place, [00:01:30] that’s for sure.

Sam:                      Well, we actually we’re partners with the Silicon Valley Business Journal and they’d produced an article saying Gordon Biersch was the number one brewery in the Bay Area producing, what was it, 112000 barrels last year.

Dan Gordon:      That was a very good stat, yeah.

Sam:                      Congratulations to that.

Dan Gordon:      Yes.

Sergio:                  That’s impressive. I would have figured there’s a lot of breweries out here like Lagunitas. They weren’t even top five.

Dan Gordon:      [00:02:00] They’re not in the Bay Area.

Sergio:                  Were they Chicago now?

Dan Gordon:      No, Petaluma is not the Bay area.

Sergio:                  Got you.

Dan Gordon:      We don’t call Sonoma County the Bay Area.

Sam:                      Yeah. Sometimes they get mixed in those lists with like North Bay and it’s a big stretch.

Sergio:                  Is Gilroy really the South Bay or is it-

Dan Gordon:      We are the largest American owned as you were alluding to.

Sam:                      That is a big statement. That is awesome. And you guys are well known across the country. I mean, how [00:02:30] many different breweries and restaurants do you guys have?

Dan Gordon:      The brewery restaurants is what I founded but they’re no longer part of our umbrella. We sold the restaurants about 20 years ago. But they’re currently something like 27 in the United States, another 4 in Taiwan.

Sam:                      Wow! I was in Hawaii and there’s a Gordon Biersch-

Dan Gordon:      Yeah, that was one of my babies. That number five.

Sam:                      That’s awesome. So let’s dive into kind of the founding and the idea for Gordon Biersch because I’m not sure you pronounce you the [00:03:00] university that you went to after you graduated from Berkeley. But you went to Germany. And can you tell us a little bit about your experience out there and how you learned to brew?

Dan Gordon:      Sure. I went to the Technical University of Munich. The campus is called Weihenstephan. It’s the location of the oldest brewery in the world. So it’s historically significant and it’s outside of Munich about 35 minutes by fast train. And it’s a phenomenal university. [00:03:30] It’s all engineering hence the technical university part, and they have a degree in brewery engineering. So I love beer and it was an exchange study in Germany so I could study brewery engineering. I said, “Bingo. This is what I was put on earth to do,” went over for the four and a half year engineering program and wrote a business plan while I was there. My expertise, specifically my thesis was on yeast zoology. So I’m an expert at growing yeast, propagation, and we do all [00:04:00] that here at the brewery.

Sergio:                  Wow, that’s amazing.

Dan Gordon:      I was able to apply to my college education doing what I do.

Sergio:                  No one does that these days.

Dan Gordon:      No?

Sergio:                  No one ever does that.

Dan Gordon:      Noble concept.

Sergio:                  But that’s impressive. I mean, going to school in Munich. I was in Oktoberfest a couple of months back.

Dan Gordon:      That’s basically how we do. We just go to Oktoberfest and-

Sergio:                  I was going to say how do you focus on school just going to Oktoberfest?

Dan Gordon:      Actually I rarely went. We had exams all in September. September, October was [00:04:30] exam time. So you had classes for a full whatever, 10 months, and you had one and a half months to prepare for finals, and then you took anywhere from 10 to 13 final exams in a three week timeframe. It was very stressful.

Sergio:                  Sam didn’t have a stat like he was the first American-

Sam:                      Good job, Sergio. So I found this. You were the first American more than 40 years to graduate from that University.

Dan Gordon:      Yeah. Exactly.

Sam:                      Why is that?

Dan Gordon:      We’ve had an 85% [00:05:00] attrition rate.

Sam:                      Because they were too drunk?

Dan Gordon:      There was always 5, 10 people … So you start off with a class of about 100 and there’re 5 or 10 of them that are going there because they think you drink beer all day long. So they’re out in the first six months. They flank out quickly, usually the technical drawing classes, camera work and all that. It takes them down quickly. Then the remainder flank out because you’re doing 10 to 13 final exams in a three week timeframe. [00:05:30] And there’re not a lot of people that can handle that kind of academic rigor. So there’s a big weed out process in the first two years. Once you survive those first two years then you’re pretty much golden and we’re down to about 17 students out of the 100 that started.

Sergio:                  And are these exams all in German?

Dan Gordon:      Yes. It’s a German university. They don’t teach in English.

Sergio:                  So how do you-

Dan Gordon:      Sergio.

Sergio:                  You speak German.

Sam:                      Great question.

Dan Gordon:      It’s amazing. All those foreign students that come to the United States when [00:06:00] we force them to study in English-

Sergio:                  I know. It’s the opposite.

Dan Gordon:      What the hell is going on with this world?

Sergio:                  No English, what’s that?

Sam:                      Wait, no. But seriously though when did you learn how to speak and write in German?

Dan Gordon:      I took German at Cal for the first two years and I was an exchange student my junior year.

Sam:                      Okay. And to dive a little bit deeper on that did you specifically learn German because you knew you were going to Germany to do this?

Dan Gordon:      No. The first time was my junior abroad at Cal. I was going to have fun in [00:06:30] Germany for a year and study abroad, and I ended up playing trombone more than I did actual studying. The jazz scene there was pretty good. Americans can make a lot of money without being that great. And then I saw you could study brewery engineering and then got serious in my senior year at Cal, applied for the program and luckily I already spoke German and I correctly experticulated out of the University in northern German which is called Gottingen and applied [00:07:00] for Technical University of Munich. And they accepted me because I was a pretty good student up in northern Germany for that one year.

Sam:                      That’s amazing. And now it kind of makes more sense now, right?

Sergio:                  Right. No, it’s an amazing background, and there’s a lot of these guys starting these breweries that don’t have that type of background.

Dan Gordon:      They’re virtually was … Being the one in 40 years puts me at an advantage. I think there were one or two other guys, non-American born, [00:07:30] either Austrian or German born, that started breweries in the United States.

Sam:                      We’re going to have to dive into just the brewery scene and how it’s so trendy and the different flavors and your marketing take on that.

Sergio:                  Those hazy-

Dan Gordon:      Yeah, I’m really fond of beer flavored beer.

Sam:                      All right. So guys-

Dan Gordon:      And I work really hard to make sure my beer isn’t sour.

Sergio:                  Oh, yes because that’s a big thing right now.

Dan Gordon:      We call that mistakes where I come from.

Sam:                      So let’s talk about that. We’re going to go a little off script [00:08:00] and we would like to document your story-

Dan Gordon:      I only go off scripts. That’s perfect.

Sam:                      Perfect.

Sergio:                  Perfect

Dan Gordon:      That’s the nature of Dan Gordon.

Sam:                      We love it. We love it. Explain to us but specifically our listeners because Sergio and I are kind of beer guys but a lot of people don’t really know what you’re alluding to [inaudible 00:08:16] mistakes.

Dan Gordon:      Beer 101.

Sam:                      Yeah.

Dan Gordon:      You started off with malted barley, barley that’s soaked in water. It’s beginning to sprout and then it’s roasted. And after that roasting process it’s in a more stable form. The roasting intensity somewhat like coffee beans, the [00:08:30] darker the roast the more flavor. The lighter the roast the less impact for the flavor is. The combination of different types of malts impacts the alcohol, color, and body of the beer. So types of malts, quality of malt, malt to water ratio, that’s one of the variables you play with. Then you have hops. Hops give beer it’s bit of flavor. It also contributes to aroma. You can add hops primarily to give the bitterness during the boil. Some American craft beers like IPAs you add hops during fermentation. [00:09:00] That’s when the yeast is doing its thing.

So in the brewing process we take malt and hops, create an extract. It’s called the wort. Then we cool it down, add yeast, then it converts the sugars from the malt into alcohol and carbon dioxide and also refines and changes the flavor of the bitterness slightly ingesting some of the hops but at the same time balancing out the bitterness. So you have basically after it’s aged for another five, weeks, sometimes longer, and ale ages shorter, different yeast strains create different flavor profiles. [00:09:30] Ales have top fermenting yeast strains, lagers have bottom fermenting yeast strains. Ales have a [inaudible 00:09:36] bitterness, an aroma that are created by hops, and you add hops to the beer during it’s aging process. That’s called dry hopping. [inaudible 00:09:47] still wet it makes no sense while it’s dry hopping. But it’s called dry hopping. And that contributes to the oils and the hop leaves give an aroma.

The longer you typically don’t dry hop they release well made [00:10:00] lagers. You’re going to want to have dry hopping to it because you’re going to want to get the nice perfect balance of malt and bitterness that is inherent in the delicate flavors and aromas that you get with lagers. So there you have it.

Sergio:                  Sam, you got that? You got that recipe down?

Sam:                      Is there a going to be a test after this?

Dan Gordon:      There is. So then after aging the yeast is going to be removed by filtration. If it’s not removed you’ll end up with cloggy beer. [inaudible 00:10:25] means yeast in the wheat, so using malted wheat as opposed to malted barley [00:10:30] and the yeast is still in the suspension. So it’s cloudy. Now, hops can also cause some haze and that’s where you’re hearing this hazy IPA. It’s basically because the guys have made a little bit of a mistake. They don’t know how to remove the haziness. So they lived with it.

Sergio:                  Those are New England guys, right?

Dan Gordon:      Well, they’re New England but I mean it’s all … there’s nothing new being done. It’s all been tried. It’s just Americans for some reason are willing to accept mistakes. They call [00:11:00] it creative crafty brewing.

Sergio:                  Is that an American thing? Because I went to Europe and with Paris and you couldn’t find double, triple IPAs. It was pretty rare.

Dan Gordon:      That’s an American deal.

Sergio:                  It’s an American deal. Okay.

Dan Gordon:      Well, France isn’t really exactly beersome.

Sergio:                  Right, right.

Dan Gordon:      Brewing capital is-

Sergio:                  We found one place, but yeah, it’s not like a Germany, right?

Sam:                      So what abut sours, could you tell us a little bit about sours? Because my understanding is that it’s actually really bad for your brewing process.

Dan Gordon:      Well, we work really work [00:11:30] to make sure there’re no bacteria that can change the flavor of beer. So our enemies are pediococcus and lactobacillus. Lactobacillus is well known because that’s the bacteria used to culture milk and turn it into yogurt. So it takes sugars, in that case it can be basically any sugar, and will turn it into acid which is acid which is sour.

Sam:                      So sours are were mistakes as well and that people love them.

Dan Gordon:      Yes, yes.

Sergio:                  That’s so bizarre.

Dan Gordon:      I’m not really sure how many people really love [00:12:00] them, but like they say though-

Sergio:                  No, it’s a niche.

Dan Gordon:      It’s actually like IPAs. People like saying the three letters in a blind test. Do they really want to drink it? Big question mark.

Sergio:                  So Dan, I heard this and tell me if this is an urban legend.

Dan Gordon:      It’s true.

Sergio:                  IPA, Indian pale ale-

Sam:                      Also imperial pale ale.

Sergio:                  Indian pale ale is because back in the day the British and this is history … is this in the class that you were going to school [00:12:30] in Germany?

Dan Gordon:      We didn’t really talk about IPAs. Remember we focused on how to brew correctly as that was-

Sergio:                  How to make it.

Dan Gordon:      How to engineer a brewery to be functional and efficient.

Sergio:                  So Sam, and correct me if I’m wrong, the British when they brought their beer to India it was spoiled and they needed to put extra hots in there to keep it from going bad. Is that true story? Is that how it kind of went by?

Dan Gordon:      Sort of true, yeah. The thing is it didn’t taste anything [00:13:00] like the modern day American Indian pale ale though. No.

Sergio:                  No. Not at all.

Sam:                      Interesting. No, I didn’t know that. So we have an idea of how you make beer now, very-

Sergio:                  Scientific.

Sam:                      You could go back and listen to it and study it because I think I’m going to need listen to that a few times. I home brewed once.

Sergio:                  Yeah, he home brewed once.

Dan Gordon:      There you go.

Sam:                      It came out pretty good.

Dan Gordon:      You stayed a holiday in too.

Sergio:                  Did you have instructions and a little kit?

Sam:                      Yeah. It was pretty much just making the water … yeah, it was a total kit. [00:13:30] But anyways, so where were we going with this? When you graduated in Germany and you came back to America what was your plan? How did you really get started with Gordon Biersch?

Sergio:                  Yeah, why San Jose.

Sam:                      Actually Palo Alto was where-

Sergio:                  Oh, Palo Alto.

Dan Gordon:      So I actually bought brewery machinery when I was in grad school and I’d go pet it every weekend. It was siting in storage. I wrote a business plan and I was actually working on the Palo Alto Gordon Biersch before I had actually completed all [inaudible 00:13:58].

Sam:                      Nice.

Sergio:                  Wow, so Palo [00:14:00] Alto is not only the tech startup of the world but it’s also got some of the beer history too.

Dan Gordon:      It’s basically ground zero for brewery industry worldwide, yes.

Sam:                      I love it. I love it.

Sergio:                  When did you make the trek over to San Jose then Japantown?

Dan Gordon:      This was like stop number seven. So we built five brewery restaurants first, then added a kegging facility in Emeryvile where we’d take over the work for a minute and then we’d revolve from our San Francisco location to Emeryville and [00:14:30] the aging for a minute and then distribute through kegs. Well, we knocked that out and then that’s when we came to Japantown, found this great brick building on 10th and Taylor and opened up the big facility.

Sam:                      And you guys open it up to the community. I mean, Sergio and I were just talking about how we’ve been here for chamber events and then you have the Thursday night-

Dan Gordon:      The night market.

Sergio:                  The night market which starts on May 17th from 5:00-

Sam:                      Tomorrow actually, if this gets aired.

Dan Gordon:      Oh, yeah. Tomorrow.

Sam:                      Yeah, when this [crosstalk 00:14:57].

Sergio:                  When this airs next week.

Dan Gordon:      Through the magic of podcast.

Sam:                      [00:15:00] Exactly.

Sergio:                  So it’s around 5:30 to around 9:00 PM?

Dan Gordon:      5:00 to 9:00, yeah.

Sergio:                  So you’re involved with the community. That’s awesome.

Dan Gordon:      We’re community advocates.

Sergio:                  Right. You even have a community focused beer called Chum, the beer of the San Jose Sharks. Got to love it. What other brewery does that?

Sam:                      We loved that video with Jamie Baker and Randy Hahn where they’re introducing Chum. It’s great.

Dan Gordon:      Yeah, they’re good guys.

Sergio:                  Past guests of the show.

Sam:                      And we know you’re partners with the Sharks. You’re the official-

Dan Gordon:      Indeed.

Sam:                      [00:15:30] That’s awesome. So how did you initially set up that partnership with the Sharks?

Dan Gordon:      John Tortora and I went out for lunch and had a good time, we drunk a few beers and said, “Let’s do it.”

Sam:                      That’s awesome.

Sergio:                  Simple. I love it. That’s how it should it be, right? So it’s like a true friendship after-

Dan Gordon:      I mean, who doesn’t like a beer called Chum. It was natural name. It took one idea man like five minutes to think up that one. Casey, he’s the idea man of the Sharks.

Sam:                      Got it. And we [00:16:00] should talk about ideas and just trends [inaudible 00:16:03] because last year I, saw you speak at the Silicon Valley Capital Club, another partner of ours. Sergio, you want there. But Dan you were talking about how you’re working with some of the universities. One of the case studies might have been Stanford?

Dan Gordon:      Yeah.

Sam:                      Could you tell us a little bit about that?

Dan Gordon:      Well, I’ve been a guest speaker at Stanford for 25 years.

Sam:                      Wow!

Dan Gordon:      That’s a long time, yeah. I’m looking forward to getting my little badge. I was told to give a badge out.

Sam:                      You’re talking about-

Dan Gordon:      I’m the first one to ever do it for 25 years. So they’ve [00:16:30] got to be thinking long and hard about what kind of beautiful badge … I want it to be like the size of a star the size of my head. You just clip on and walk around and say, “Guest speaker extraordinaire.” [crosstalk 00:16:42].

Sam:                      Well, Sergio, you should get it.

Sergio:                  I could design it.

Sam:                      And I could make it.

Sergio:                  If I were you I would go for a honorary degree. How cool is that?

Dan Gordon:      I’ve got enough degrees. They would never accept someone like me anyway [inaudible 00:16:56].

Sergio:                  They gave Bill Cosby. Not Stanford but a bunch of universities gave Bill Cosby [00:17:00] degrees. I’m sure they [crosstalk 00:17:01].

Dan Gordon:      But I think they’re going to rescind those.

Sergio:                  They are, right?

Dan Gordon:      So through the business school I heard about the design school which is really fascinating. It’s a technique of interviewing and empathy and feedback and iteration to create and understand the problems and solutions for specific products or methodologies that are being applied in the world. There might be even room [00:17:30] service programs for a hotel. It’s a universal thought process and we did two product designs using that. The first one was Wildcide which is our hard cider-

Sam:                      Which you can get at Trader Joe’s, right?

Dan Gordon:      No, no. That’s a different one. We might make something for Trader Joe’s called something different. But Wildcide is on the shelves of Safeway beverages and more. It’s a number four selling hard cider right now. It’s fantastic stuff.

Sam:                      That’s huge.

Dan Gordon:      It’s one [00:18:00] ingredient made with just fresh pressed apple juice, very expensive to make unlike Angry Orchard which uses a concentrate, Ace Cider which a concentrate, you go down the list. And you always wonder why are these things so stupidly sweet and unpalatable. Well, ours is natural, fresh pressed juice and it’s dry. So that came along with the packaging on how to convey this all natural drinking hard cider drinking experience, and we learned how to transfer that information to our packaging [00:18:30] and convey the message of authenticity via the design school techniques. So we drank the Kool-Aid and have been using it ever since.

Sam:                      So that’s amazing. So in a nutshell you really talked to … at the time it was probably still the millennials but if you were going to do it now it would be Gen Z. I mean, this is the demographic.

Dan Gordon:      I didn’t know there’s Gen Z. Wow!

Sam:                      Oh, yeah. That-

Sergio:                  That’s the new thing.

Dan Gordon:      Gen Z.

Sam:                      Gen Z is there in the workforce in a year or two. So get ready.

Dan Gordon:      Okay. I’m too old.

Sam:                      But the [00:19:00] point here is how amazing is it that you get to work with the school to find out directly from the consumers what is marketable to them and then they get to create it. Plus it’s Stanford, right?

Dan Gordon:      I mean, the old school methodology was to hire a market research company, do the focus group studies, they dial up individuals, they pay them to come in. I don’t want that. That’s paying for information. That’s incorrect. I want to go directly in the field to talk to people in [00:19:30] a more casual basis and just iterate and get feedback. I want to be able to go back to different people another time with a new idea until we iterate it and come full circle three or four times to dial it in. And that’s what the design school does. By the way it’s kind of [inaudible 00:19:44]. The owner of the Sharks, Hasso Plattner, a German guy-

Sergio:                  SAP guy?

Dan Gordon:      Yeah, yeah, the SAP guy, actually is the founder of the design school of Stanford.

Sergio:                  Wow! There’s a connection there.

Sam:                      That’s probably-

Dan Gordon:      And David Kelley who is [00:20:00] the originator of IDEO is basically the brainstorm behind the whole thing.

Sergio:                  That’s amazing. Speaking to him in German?

Dan Gordon:      I haven’t met Hasso. I should. It would be kind of fun.

Sergio:                  Yeah, connection there.

Dan Gordon:      I’m pretty sure he’s a Technical University of Munich alum also. Yeah.

Sergio:                  So that university in Munich is not just a beer school?

Dan Gordon:      No, it’s all engineering.

Sergio:                  All engineering.

Dan Gordon:      Mechanical, electrical, the medical school is part of it, bio engineering, you name it.

Sergio:                  BMW must have been a startup from [00:20:30] that university.

Dan Gordon:      Huge. Well, I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know who Mr BM is, Mr W is. But I know that the university works hand in hand with BMW in a lot of projects.

Sam:                      So something we should touch on and definitely address is how real and authentic you are. And it’s appreciated. And I think anyone listening to this podcast can hear it in your voice, in your sense of humor-

Dan Gordon:      Well, I had a beer at lunch.

Sergio:                  There you go [crosstalk 00:20:57].

Dan Gordon:      That’s authentic.

Sam:                      Liquid bread.

Sergio:                  I love his tag line too by the way.

Sam:                      What is it [inaudible 00:20:59]?

Sergio:                  Never trust [00:21:00] a skinny brewer.

Dan Gordon:      Well, we’re phasing that one out now. It’s on the phase of [inaudible 00:21:03].

Sergio:                  Well, because you lost weight. You look good.

Dan Gordon:      I’m trying to. Yeah.

Sergio:                  You look pretty ripped now.

Sam:                      Okay. So let’s talk about the branding and the marketing. There’s just so many places we could go. You started with the tag line. There’s that of course. We were looking at you YouTube videos. You had a video on … the YouTube channel was the Brewer’s Network I want to say.

Dan Gordon:      Oh, yeah. That was with Justin Cosby.

Sergio:                  [00:21:30] Love it. Great video.

Dan Gordon:      Great on YouTube.

Dan Gordon:      Justin Crossley. My God, that beer is still … lingering effects are there.

Sam:                      What was it? Something-

Dan Gordon:      [inaudible 00:21:39] maximus.

Sergio:                  That was 2013. That was a couple of years ago.

Dan Gordon:      Yeah, it was a while ago. But it’s timeless.

Sergio:                  Yeah. No, you guys got … If you’re listening-

Dan Gordon:      We were ahead of our time actually.

Sergio:                  How do they find that video Sam? They just-

Dan Gordon:      We’ll put it in the show notes.

Sergio:                  Okay. It’s a great video.

Sam:                      But basically you’re being interviewed about a very hopy beer and how you made it so hopy and just over the top and so [00:22:00] much sarcasm, and for someone that doesn’t really catch on to sarcasm or doesn’t really know much about beer they might actually believe most of it.

Dan Gordon:      Oh, it’s not plausible.

Sam:                      So definitely check that out. We’ll put that out in the show notes. But your marketing is just always on point. Got to give you props there.

Sergio:                  Stands out.

Dan Gordon:      That one had a good play especially amongst the brewery community because it is so true in many regards. But I can’t believe that it really [00:22:30] would become true. Their beer is bitter that they could wad out a wooden barrel and sip aggressively on the concrete destroying it.

Sam:                      That’s good stuff. And it’s true. There’s so many different kinds of beers out there now and so many different trends and experiments.

Dan Gordon:      Every note’s been played.

Sam:                      Yeah, yeah.

Sergio:                  Have any of these local breweries contacted you for a collaboration beer, anything like that?

Dan Gordon:      We get hit up quite a bit primarily, [00:23:00] not necessarily local ones but breweries that want us to take them to the next level for bottling and packaging. But collaborationwise the only ones I’ve spoken to are some German breweries, the [inaudible 00:23:12].

Sergio:                  That’d be awesome.

Sam:                      And Sergio I’m glad you brought that up too because there are a lot more breweries that are popping up in Silicon Valley.

Dan Gordon:      Well, how about the whole country.

Sam:                      True.

Dan Gordon:      Let me give a little graphical timeline that you don’t have to actually see the graph. When we started in 1988 there were 235 [00:23:30] breweries in the country. When we went into production here at our bottling facility there were roughly 780 breweries in the country. That’s 1997. Right now there’re over 6000. And there’re new ones opening at a rate of two to three a day.

Sam:                      Two to three.

Dan Gordon:      Nationwide.

Sergio:                  A day. That’s amazing. What’s the failure rate? If they-

Dan Gordon:      Well, I’ve got a whole pie because this is unsustainable. I really think brewing Armageddon is going to hit one to [00:24:00] two years from now. It already started hitting.

Sergio:                  Right. They’re starting to get swallowed up by-

Dan Gordon:      No, no. Not swallowed. They’re starting to fall apart.

Sergio:                  Fall apart. Got it. Okay.

Dan Gordon:      Bankruptcy, yeah. Mendocino is the first one on a big splash, Speakeasy fell apart. They’re hanging on by a string right now from what I understand. I haven’t seen them on the shelf in a long time. Green Flash.

Sergio:                  Yes, big San Diego brewery.

Dan Gordon:      I read about them having some issues. Sonoma Cide [00:24:30] just closed their doors.

Sam:                      What do you think about Fieldwork’s approach with all the pop-up shops and you don’t really see too much of that.

Dan Gordon:      I don’t know what a pop up shop is.

Sam:                      Hat are they calling [crosstalk 00:24:40].

Sergio:                  Almost in like a metal crate and they open up in San Mateo and they’re little venues but they’re not … they’re just like little pop-up shops.

Dan Gordon:      They’re brewing in a temporary-

Sergio:                  No, no. They’re brewing in Berkeley but then they’re distributing at their … they bring the barrels over and just deliver them and just put them on tap.

Dan Gordon:      Oh, okay.

Sam:                      It’s kind of like a beer garden.

Sergio:                  [00:25:00] Yeah. Almost like a small beer garden. Not every location [inaudible 00:25:03].

Dan Gordon:      Praise the Lord for that I guess. I don’t know. It’s like everybody’s got a gimmick.

Sam:                      That’s true. And you have to fire away standout.

Dan Gordon:      I mean, there’s so many tap rooms and so many nano breweries.

Sergio:                  Have you ever considered an acquisition, acquiring some of these breweries? Has that ever been a thought or-

Dan Gordon:      Yeah, I guess but, I mean, what do I do with it?

Sam:                      One [00:25:30] of your big thing is you want to stay true to the Gordon Biersch brand, what you set out to do, beer brew, brew beer the right way.

Dan Gordon:      Yeah. I like doing it the right way, but we’re going to have to go a little bit out of edge and we’ve got a some things going on that way.

Sam:                      Is there anything that you can talk about that we can look forward in the next few years from Gordon Biersch?

Dan Gordon:      Yeah, do you know the words Dan gordos and can you think of what’s coming out of that?

Sam:                      I think you might be the don.

Sergio:                  The don and gordos meaning [00:26:00] overweight?

Dan Gordon:      But what kind of beer would that represent, Dan Gordos?

Sergio:                  A Mexican pilsner?

Dan Gordon:      Oh, yeah.

Sergio:                  Did I get it right?

Dan Gordon:      You got it.

Sergio:                  Oh, nice.

Sam:                      Shout out to the craft beer head groups.

Sergio:                  CBH, yeah.

Sam:                      Yeah. Do you know about these beer groups-

Sergio:                  No, it’s a private group.

Sam:                      So there’s these little craft beer head groups and I-

Sergio:                  All over the country. Yeah. They do bottle shares and things like that in their little local scene. But it’s good. It’s such a big scene that you have to [00:26:30] get knowledge of beer.

Dan Gordon:      It’s endless.

Sergio:                  Right. The audience is pickier now, right? It’s got to be a nightmare.

Dan Gordon:      Yeah, how to shop throughout the clutter.

Sam:                      And stand out.

Sergio:                  Like I want a watermelon something.

Sam:                      The watermelon beer with wedge watermelon in it.

Sergio:                  That’s just another audience. It’s another audience. You have a traditional German style. I love the hefeweizen. Is it hefenweizen?

Dan Gordon:      Hefeweisen.

Sergio:                  See, [00:27:00] I can’t-

Sam:                      Heferweizen.

Dan Gordon:      Heferweizen.

Sergio:                  Heferweizen.

Sam:                      Heferweizen.

Dan Gordon:      Hefe

Sam:                      Hefe.

Dan Gordon:      Weizen.

Sam:                      Weizen.

Sergio:                  Heferweizen.

Dan Gordon:      Yeast, wheat.

Sergio:                  Is that what that means?

Dan Gordon:      I believe so.

Sergio:                  That’s it, huh?, What’s the difference between a heferwiezen and a wit.

Dan Gordon:      Witbier is Belgian and it usually has instead of hops it’s flavored with coriander and orange peel. Orange peel contains bitterness.

Sergio:                  Got it. So it’s-

Dan Gordon:      It’s astringent bitterness. There’s still some hops in a witbier [00:27:30] and then still cloudy, usually has yeast or protein haze in it. Hefeweizen is a very specific yeast strain that gives a beer flavor, the citrus, banana, bubblegum, clove like flavor profile that is signature to that yeast strain in what it metabolizes and produces. So extrudes these flavor profiles. It’s not in the yeast. The yeast creates flavors.

Sam:                      That’s awesome.

Sergio:                  But I can taste that banana [00:28:00] for sure.

Dan Gordon:      It’s all from the yeast, nothing added, still brewed with malt, hops, water, and yeast.

Sergio:                  That’s my favorite [inaudible 00:28:08] beer.

Dan Gordon:      Thousands of different yeast strains.

Sergio:                  I love that. On a hot especially you get one of those out.

Sam:                      It’s great.

Dan Gordon:      Or Dan Gordos.

Sam:                      Or Dan Gordos.

Dan Gordon:      Soon.

Sam:                      When is that releasing?

Dan Gordon:      We’re on tap right now. It’s trial right now. It’s on tap at the Old Pro in Palo Alto, our local union, and this restaurant called Dan Gordon’s in Palo Alto. I believe they have it [00:28:30] on tap too.

Sam:                      I wonder who that guys is. Must be-

Dan Gordon:      The namesake.

Sam:                      Dan this is awesome.

Dan Gordon:      It was actually a joke by one of my best friends.

Sam:                      What’s that?

Dan Gordon:      Who actually is the partner in the restaurant, Steve Sincheck, who also owns the Old Pro on the local union. But he wanted to trow my name out there. I go, “Oh, my God. Okay. I don’t have an ego that big. But if you insist.” So it’s actually owned by him and my son, Oliver.

Sergio:                  I love that place. Have you been to the Old Pro?

Sam:                      I’ve been there once.

Dan Gordon:      Dan Gordos is [00:29:00] the barbecue capital of Silicon Valley.

Sam:                      I can’t wait to see what you are working on for Dan Gordos.

Sergio:                  I’m sure it’s going to be great.

Dan Gordon:      Think luchador. Do you know what a luchador is?

Sam:                      No.

Dan Gordon:      Do you know that masked Mexican wrestler?

Sergio:                  Oh, yeah, yeah.

Dan Gordon:      That’s the theme.

Sergio:                  Nacho Libre with [inaudible 00:29:19].

Dan Gordon:      That is it, yeah.

Sergio:                  Are they going to have a ring in there?

Dan Gordon:      What do you mean?

Sergio:                  On certain days a wrestling ring.

Dan Gordon:      Maybe.

Sergio:                  That will kind of cool [crosstalk 00:29:26].

Dan Gordon:      You never know where the ring is going to pop up.

Sam:                      [00:29:30] So this is great.

Dan Gordon:      And then the wrestler Dan Gordo may appear.

Sergio:                  Oh, that is … see? I like that. That’s awesome.

Dan Gordon:      You never know.

Sergio:                  As Stan says the riches are in the niches. That’s a very niche-

Dan Gordon:      The niches.

Sam:                      Nice [crosstalk 00:29:44].

Dan Gordon:      Can I write that one down?

Sam:                      Yeah, yeah. So I want to say Oktoberfest. We were talking about September early.

Dan Gordon:      We were looking at what’s going to happen.

Sam:                      Yeah, and you don’t-

Dan Gordon:      Actually I know the dates.

Sam:                      But Oktoberfest traditionally [00:30:00] is in September. A lot of people-

Sergio:                  A lot of people don’t know that. Actually I didn’t know that until I actually went to Oktoberfest in Munich.

Sam:                      See? I already knew that because I already people that went to Oktoberfest and they brought that back in their stories. So I knew that.

Sergio:                  So Dan, not too far from here a new restaurant. What’s it called, Sam?

Sam:                      I don’t know what restaurant you’re talking about.

Sergio:                  A German table-

Sam:                      Oh, yeah Ludwigs.

Sergio:                  Ludwigs.

Dan Gordon:      Ludwig, yeah. I know them.

Sergio:                  Have you been there? It says old German hall and its great. [00:30:30] It’s like a traditional German building. So Sam and I were thinking about going there for Oktoberfest, just kind of small-

Dan Gordon:      You’re going to want to come here too.

Sergio:                  Oh, there’s going to be one here?

Dan Gordon:      Big one [inaudible 00:30:39] just 2500 or so of your closest friends.

Sergio:                  I didn’t know. So let’s talk about this.

Dan Gordon:      Yeah, I think it’s the 27th, 28th, 29th. For sure 27th and 28th.

Sergio:                  September.

Dan Gordon:      Actually let’s get more specific because-

Sergio:                  Sam, we’ve got to-

Sam:                      I’m down.

Sergio:                  We’ve got to get our, what is called, a legenhosen?

Dan Gordon:      [00:31:00] Legenhosen, no. They’re called lederhosen.

Sergio:                  Lederhosen.

Dan Gordon:      I like that though. Why is-

Sergio:                  I don’t know.

Dan Gordon:      So the 28th and 29th, Friday and Saturday.

Sam:                      All right. End of September.

Dan Gordon:      Yap.

Sergio:                  And it’s here in Japantoown.

Dan Gordon:      It’s here at the brewery in the parking lot.

Sergio:                  In the parking lot of the brewery where you have a night market?

Dan Gordon:      Exactly same spot.

Sergio:                  Oh, that’s awesome. So how many times have you … Is this is the-

Dan Gordon:      We’ve done the event every five years. We’ve done Oktoberfest before though.

Sam:                      Yeah, you guys have done it with the chambers and that type of stuff.

Dan Gordon:      Yeah, this will be much cooler.

Sam:                      Yeah, for [00:31:30] sure.

Dan Gordon:      [inaudible 00:31:30], the big ceramic [inaudible 00:31:31]

Sam:                      I have some of those, yeah.

Sergio:                  Big ones.

Dan Gordon:      Big ones.

Sergio:                  Are people singing? Are going to have a band? Is that possible?

Dan Gordon:      I’m sure we will have music so long as we can an entertainment permit lined up by then.

Sam:                      Sweet. You’ve got a few months.

Sergio:                  That’s going to be fun. Sam, you could drink out of the boot.

Sam:                      I’m down. [inaudible 00:31:49] boot, right?

Dan Gordon:      It’s called [inaudible 00:31:55].

Sergio:                  [inaudible 00:31:55]. I have no idea how to say that.

Sam:                      All right. So let’s air the flash around a few quick things. Dan, where is [00:32:00] your favorite diet bar [inaudible 00:32:02]?

Sergio:                  In South Bay.

Sam:                      South Bay.

Dan Gordon:      Diet bar. I mean, the one that was next to us that closed was only one I really went to called Beenies, and that closed 2004, 2005.

Sam:                      Do you know that Sergio?

Dan Gordon:      No.

Sam:                      It used to be here in the [inaudible 00:32:18].

Sergio:                  Japantown has changed so much now.

Dan Gordon:      That was the one I went to.

Sam:                      It was close by.

Dan Gordon:      I don’t do a lot of diet bars.

Sergio:                  What about just bar?

Dan Gordon:      [00:32:30] I do a lot of ramen.

Sergio:                  Ramen.

Sam:                      Yeah, being in Japantown, yeah.

Dan Gordon:      And Kumako. It’s the best restaurant in the world.

Sergio:                  And it’s out here in Japantown?

Dan Gordon:      Yeah.

Sergio:                  Kumako.

Dan Gordon:      Right around the corner.

Sergio:                  Sam, we’re going to have pay a visit.

Sam:                      We just had Joey Chestnut on the podcast. He was talking about eating some- he’s never done-

Sergio:                  He’s never done a sushi.

Sam:                      That was it. Yeah.

Dan Gordon:      I could be him.

Sergio:                  That sounds like [inaudible 00:32:54].

Sam:                      We should get something set up between you guys.

Dan Gordon:      I met Joey here at a going away party for Mark Pardy.

Sam:                      Oh, sports [inaudible 00:32:59].

Dan Gordon:      The sports [inaudible 00:32:59].

Sam:                      [00:33:00] Yeah, wow. That’s really cool.

Dan Gordon:      Joey’s in shape.

Sergio:                  Yeah, he is. He was [crosstalk 00:33:07].

Dan Gordon:      [inaudible 00:33:07] they’ve got to be in shape.

Sam:                      He runs a lot.

Sergio:                  He runs a lot and he was telling about his training coming up right now. So he’s given up beer and everything. He’s got July 4th.

Sam:                      4th of July.

Dan Gordon:      The season. Coney Island, right?

Sergio:                  Coney Island. He’s the 10 time-

Dan Gordon:      He always goes out with the kid from Japan.

Sergio:                  Kobayashi. They have a real beef. It’s not scripted. They [00:33:30] don’t get a long.

Dan Gordon:      Well, they both were making a leaving eating.

Sergio:                  Yeah, I know. Tough life.

Sam:                      All right. So I had another and I just forgot it. Sergio, do you have a quick question?

Sergio:                  Oh, like a-

Sam:                      Flash around.

Sergio:                  Flash around.

Sam:                      Yeah.

Sergio:                  It’s sports. We’re in a sports community. Obviously, you’re a Shark’s fan but what’s your favorite if you have a favorite team? South bay [inaudible 00:33:54]

Dan Gordon:      Oh, wow.

Sergio:                  The Earthquakes. t could be-

Sam:                      Beside the Sharks.

Sergio:                  I mean, [inaudible 00:33:57] university, Cal [inaudible 00:33:59].

Dan Gordon:      Oh, yeah. Cal [00:34:00] women’s Lacrosse would be my favorite sport.

Sergio:                  Very niche.

Sam:                      I see that.

Dan Gordon:      My daughter is on the team.

Sam:                      There we go.

Dan Gordon:      Well, you asked for it.

Sam:                      Shout out.

Dan Gordon:      Cal women’s lacrosse.

Sam:                      So what’s your favorite way to deliver kegs to the sales aid giants?

Dan Gordon:      In the Tesla, 15 kegs.

Sam:                      Did you know that, Serge?

Sergio:                  What? No, I’m completely … And how did you know that, Sam?

Sam:                      Just research.

Dan Gordon:      Tesla did a video on me delivering kegs to the San Jose Giants. It’s [00:34:30] pretty funny. And it’s a nice keg car.

Sergio:                  So-

Dan Gordon:      [inaudible 00:34:33] cars these days.

Sergio:                  Space.

Dan Gordon:      How many kegs can it carry?

Sergio:                  Right. And they’ve got that SUV too. You get that going you get even more.

Sam:                      Well, Dan, this has been awesome. So we were talking about September and Oktoberfest in September. We’d love to have you on again, do something again and promote that later on. But anything else you want to say before we head on out?

Dan Gordon:      Drink lots of Gordon Biersch beer. Please buy it at supermarkets. [00:35:00] You will help the Gordon family. I’ve got tuition payments, a lot of things, a wedding for my son coming up, even thought he’s the son, the groom, still … By the way modern day-

Sam:                      That’s [inaudible 00:35:13] used to be, yeah, the brides [crosstalk 00:35:13].

Sergio:                  Father of the bride. Doesn’t happen.

Dan Gordon:      Well, he’s still got a four to one ratio over me. A big one. Yeah. He’s winning.

Sergio:                  Well, thank you so much for your time. I love the variety pack that’s available at all these grocery stores.

Dan Gordon:      [00:35:30] Please look for it.

Sergio:                  Look for the variety pack. That’s probably your bestseller, right?

Dan Gordon:      Just immediately buy it.

Sam:                      [inaudible 00:35:36]. You see Gordon Biersch buy.

Dan Gordon:      Anyway, we have new graphics and new branding. So you’re going to have to kep your eyes opening, make sure the spelling … it’s on the outside.

Sergio:                  How often do you change your graphics? Every 10 years maybe?

Sam:                      Four or five.

Sergio:                  Every four or five years.

Sam:                      Six would be the big change. You guys I’ll take you [inaudible 00:35:50] grab some beer for you, and you’ll see how [inaudible 00:35:53].

Sergio:                  The perks of a podcast. Right.

Sam:                      Cool. Thanks again. We really appreciate it.

Dan Gordon:      My pleasure.

Sam:                      Awesome.

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About the author, SwagSam

Sam Kabert is the Creative Director of ValueBP Marketing Group and the Creator and Co-Host of the podcast “WhatUp Silicon Valley!” A risk taker who embraces permanent beta, Sam is leading the transformation of his family-run office supplies business into a promotional products’ powerhouse.

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