Dan Gordon founded Gordon Biersch Brewing Company with partner Dean Biersch in 1987, and he continues to supervise the 114,000-square-foot brewing and bottling facility on E. Taylor Street in San Jose.

After earning a degree in resource economics from UC Berkeley, Gordon moved to West Germany to pursue a five-year brewing engineering degree from the world-renowned Technical University of Munich. During his training, he got hands-on experience interning at Anheuser-Busch and the famous Spaten Brewery in Munich.

The first Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant opened in Palo Alto in 1988, serving not only the popular Gordon Biersch brews, but another of Gordon’s original creations: the renowned (and even trademarked) Gordon Biersch Garlic Fries. Gordon Biersch brewery restaurants are now in 20 different states, along with their first international location in Taipei, Taiwan.

Name: Dan Gordon
Age: 51
Occupation: Co-Founder and Director of Brewing Operations at Gordon Biersch

How long have you lived and worked in San Jose?
I’ve been working here at the brewery since ‘95 and I was born in San Jose, but now I live in Redwood City.

What do you like most about San Jose?

I love this building [the brewery on E. Taylor.] It’s got a lot of history behind it. This area used to be called Cannery Park. There were three canneries within 1,000 feet of this building, including one I actually worked in when I was growing up, California Canners and Growers. It ties, in a big way, to my youth. And my parents moved from Hawaii to San Jose right before I was born, so the first restaurants I went to growing up were in Japantown right here.

How did you and Dean Biersch meet?
We were a match made by his godfather who knew someone who knew someone who knew me. I was studying brewery engineering in Germany and found out Dean was trying to do the same thing from a restauranteur’s perspective that I wanted to do from a brewing side: an upscale brewing restaurant concept.

What is your favorite Gordon Biersch brew?
That’s like saying which child do you want to give up for adoption, it’s too difficult to make a decision on… at home I have pilsner on tap, but we just came out with a new beer, Braumeister Selekt, that I like a lot.

How often do you make it down to the Gordon Biersch restaurant?
Maybe once every couple weeks. I usually go with people who are visiting the brewery here. The last person I went with was the head of a sausage company. They make some sausages out of our beer, and we were looking into doing a joint product out of our next beer.

What do you like most about your job?
It’s all fun! I mean it’s kind of hard to choose. My day is always a combination of working toward building the future of the company, along with putting out fires on a daily basis. Starting things from scratch is probably the most exciting though, developing a new beer.

For instance I get to go next week to Taiwan to have lunch and launch our IPB beer over there. This will be the first major launch we’ve had in a foreign country with our bottled beer.

How do you like to spend your time when you’re not at the brewery?
I play jazz trombone and I play with a couple bands. That’s my therapy. I love to cook and I work out a lot. I’m trying to dispel the “never trust a skinny brewer” physique.

Where did the “never trust a skinny brewer” motto come from?
That evolved from an interview. We were doing this kind of infomercial thing called “Beer Talk” and we talked about a lot of things related to beer technologies. This guy I was talking to was a twig, and he said “Man, I wanna be a brewer,” and I said, “No one would trust you, you’re way too skinny,” and we just ran with it.

What are some of your favorite places in San Jose?
There’s a whole slew of them. Within spitting distance of here is Japantown, so I love Kubota, Minato, and I love San Jose Tofu. It’s unreal, it’s the best tofu in the world. There’s also Roy’s Station, when I’m dashing in and out. But I like Santana Row, I have a lot of friends who own restaurants there. There’s a lot of places in downtown San Jose that I love to go to also. I like to go to the hockey games, it’s nice to have my and garlic fries and beer on tap there [HP Pavilion.]

If you could change one thing about San Jose, what would it be?
I wish for downtown to have more of a center of gravity that was drawing people to it. The amount of storefronts that are empty is reminding me a lot of 1988 to 1990 when it was started to turn around, and now this is kind of the back-turn of it.

Who’s the most interesting person you’ve met in San Jose?
That’s a tough one, I’ve met a lot of really interesting people here. It’s fun having some friends that are also celebrities every now and again, for instance we do a lot of stuff with Santa Clara University. I grew up with Jerry Smith, coach of woman’s soccer at Santa Clara and he’s married to Brandi Chastain. Jerry and I grew up playing soccer together since we were 9-years-old, so I’ve known him a while. They’re good friends.

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