The name Gordon Biersch doesn’t get much play among San Diego craft beer fans. To them, the central San Diego brewpub is but another in a chain of cookie-cutter outlets spanning the country. This is a short-sighted view of a place that’s been pumping out consistent brews for a long time. It would probably surprise most casual beer fans to hear that the man helming Gordon Biersch’s local brewhouse, Doug Hasker, is the most highly regarded lager craftsman in San Diego, the helpful sage other brewers come to when trying to create quality lagers of their own.
In many parts of the country, lagers outnumber ales significantly, but we are without question an ale town. Because of that, most San Diego drinkers barely understand, much less appreciate, lagers. As such, many of Hasker's creations get overlooked, but he recently created a lager/ale hybrid that's tasting great and should appeal to locals while giving them a peak into his sudsy sensibilities.
That beer, dubbed Vienna Pale, utilizes a malt bill for a traditional Vienna lager along with West Coast hops (Cascade, Centennial, Amarillo, and others) and California Ale Yeast. The result is an unfiltered, golden-tan Vienna pale ale of sorts with biscuity, cracker-like flavor plus a hop-spike 55 IBUs strong, quite large by Gordon Biersch standards.
Hasker's Vienna Ale is currently available at both Gordon Biersch (5010 Mission Center Road, Mission Valley) and Monkey Paw Pub & Brewing (805 16th Street, East Village). If you feel the former is too corporate to be craft, here is an opportunity to dispel that with a taste of the individual knowledge and craftsmanship behind the nationally-driven machine. And, if you can’t get over the whole chain thing (first off, that’s a real shame), head for the alternatively cozy and straightforwardly crafty downtown den.