Dan Griffin was a newly minted engineering graduate working in the automotive industry just a handful of years ago when he decided it was time for a career change. He was soon off to Edinburgh Scotland to earn his M.S. degree in Brewing Technology from the Heriot-Watt University (incidentally, the same brewing school attended by Martin Dickie of BrewDog). His next stop was Vermont, to brew for the renowned Long Trail Brewing Company in tiny Bridgewater Corners. Finally, this summer when long time Gordon Biersch brewer Keith Jackson decided to strike out on his own, the 29-year old Columbus native had his chance to move back to his hometown as Head Brewer at GB’s brewery in the Arena District.
Because of its nationwide presence, it’s not unusual to think of Gordon Biersch as more of a “corporate” brewery than a local craft brewer; and back in 2001 when GB opened in Columbus, there might have been a hint of truth to that thought. At the time, only five beers were being brewed, all German-style lagers brewed true to company recipes. Happily, things have changed dramatically over the past fifteen years.
“About 2009 the [Gordon Biersch] brewers started to get a little more freedom,” said Griffin. “By 2011, IPAs were on our taps, and by 2013, the handcuffs were off. Every location is going to have Golden Export and Marzen on tap plus a GB seasonal, which right now is Festbier, but otherwise I get to do whatever I want.”
In fact, right now, only three of the ten taps are pouring those more traditional German-style lagers that were the mainstay for Gordon Biersch in those early years. The other seven taps are all Dan’s handiwork and include a Citra Blonde, a Pumpkin Ale, a Schwartzbier, and an IPA, plus the newest addition to the current line-up; an India Pale Lager. This latest brew is a collaboration beer concocted by Dan and his old pal Craig O’Herron of Sideswipe Brewing. At its heart, it is an IPA brewed with a lager yeast, but Dan and Craig did some serious dry-hopping with El Dorado hops to give it a unique character. This 6% IBL is clean, crisp, and eminently drinkable with hints of pineapple and mango. If you missed it at the Ohio Craft Beer Festival at the North Market last weekend, you can still find it on tap at both the Gordon Biersch and Sideswipe.
Fans of IPAs and Belgians will want to keep an eye on what’s coming next from Gordon Biersch.
“My big two passions are Double IPAs and I have always had a huge place in my heart for Belgian Ales—I love triples,” said Griffin. “We are going to have a steady stream of Belgians on tap starting in the near future.”
Gordon Biersch is located at 401 N. Front Street in the Arena District.