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Gordon Biersch 9th St. Closes Sunday; Area Beer Folks Reflect on Their Time There

Gordon Biersch 9th Street, the District’s second-oldest operating brewery, will close Sunday, September 30.

Gordon Biersch opened in 2001, and the only brewery older than the 9th street location is the nearby District ChopHouse, which opened in 1996. Capitol City Brewing Company, the first brewpub in DC since Prohibition, opened its doors in 1992 though all of their beers have come from their Arlington location since 2003. As we reported in March, they kinda sorta closed their Shirlington location, though the small brewery is still producing beer under a separate license. All of this is to say that it’s the end for a long-tenured DC brewery.

The closing of GB 9th Street, the 17-year-old brewery, has provided a moment of reflection and humor. Below you will find quotes from those who have worked at GB 9th St and those who recall it as it was before its eminent close Sunday.

The following quotes have been edited for clarity and length:

I have so many stories about that place...being there for the opening back in the day. Walking into that place for the first time was amazing. We used to hang out there with friends before Jeff [Hancock] even started thinking about brewing. To holding the first meeting, to discussing planning of the current DC Brewers' Guild [in attendance: Me, Megan Parisi (w/ Bluejacket at the time), Melanie Knepp (who was the local Stone rep at the time - she is now in AZ still w/ Stone), and Acacia Coast (BA)].

Also, all the many times walking into that place and having a pint with the brewers - Jason and Scott always made it awesome.

Mari Rodela, Chief Community & Culture Officer, DC Brau Brewing Company

My first trip to GB was well before I was of age on a family trip to DC. When I came back during college, I brought a group from school there, stole a 4L glass (sorry, guys), and impressed (bored) my friends with the virtues of German beer. In a lot of ways, GB 9th Street is responsible for making me aware of brewing as a career path and definitely responsible for giving me access to folks like Jason, Scott, and (the inimitable) Barrett Lauer (not of GB, but a fixture there nonetheless). Really going to miss that spot and the great beers that came out of her cellars.

Erich Streckfuss, Cider Maker, Supreme Core Craft Cider

 

I was at that location for 10 years, so I probably brewed well over 10,000 BBLs of lager during that time.   

Lager is not cool.  It tastes like beer flavored beer.  But I'm most proud of the fact that never, ever, not even one time did I sell my soul to the Cinnamon Mango IPA devil.

Scott Lasater, Head Brewer GB Navy Yard 

I have a couple good memories of GB Chinatown. The one I remember the most was when Mari and I first met Jason Oliver back in the mid-2000's. I had picked up skateboarding again after an 8 year hiatus and was regularly skating at the infamous, now defunct DC skate spot called "Fight Club." I was taking a break between runs and was sipping on some craft malt liquor that Jason had brewed up. In addition to that brew, I was nipping at a pint of Johnny Walker Red. I noticed this guy flirting with Mari pretty hard so I introduced myself as Mari's fiancé, and he was like, "oh damn, sorry dude." I replied no worries and asked if he knew who made the malt liquor and he excitedly replied, "I did."

After that I went down and grabbed many a Märzen at GB Chinatown. It was right around the time Jason had accepted the brewers post at Devils Backbone Pub in Crozet, VA. I always loved going into GB Chinatown as the beers were always solid, and it’s also public knowledge that I have an extreme affinity for German lagers and ales.

I'll definitely miss that place once it’s gone, but I'm happy to now patronize GB Navy Yard and to continue to harass Scott Lasater at his new post.

Jeff Hancock, President / Co-Founder / Brewmaster, Certified Cicerone®, DC Brau Brewing, LLC

I have fond memories of Jason Oliver and GB 9th Street… but one I thought I would share – Mia Hamm was a guest bartender at GB one of the evenings I was there with Jason… wish I had a photo…! 

Joe Gold, Sales Manager, Heavy Seas Beer 

It was my go-to for high quality, fresh draft lagers for ages, especially after Baltimore Brewing Co. closed. And it was right next to the old 9:30, so good music memories, by extension!

I loved the location by the [Smithsonian American Art Museum / National Portrait Gallery], and they always accommodated me when I was there with my daughter, even when she was still quite young.

I have a fond memory of meeting Jason [Oliver] there for a "halben Liter" of Bock before we walked over to an RFD holiday beer tasting together...

It will be missed.

Volker Stewart, Founding Partner, The Brewer’s Art

I worked there from Feb 2002 to July 2008. I was the second brewer...I didn't have much creativity so I focused where I could. I became a much better brewer at GB. Creativity is often overrated and caught up in sensationalism. The act of creating, as in making something, and learning to create better goes much further than seeing what kind of stupid shit you can dump in beer IMO.  

Jason Oliver, Brewmaster Devils Backbone Brewing Company 

I used to visit occasionally when I was working at DeGroens/Baltimore Brewing Co. We [me and Jason Oliver] used to work at Oliver Brewing Ltd/The Wharf Rat 1996-1998. We quickly became friends, being literally in the trenches together, even though we worked opposite shifts most of the time. He was one of my groomsmen when I got married in 2005, if that helps put things in perspective. When I would visit him at GB DC, we typically started out with a few beers at GB and then hit dive bars, which there were much more of back then, on his People motor scooter. I don’t know how I survived. Sometimes we’d take some beer and go to a warehouse-turned-party house/skate park/art studio affectionately named “Fight Club.” Jason always had some “projects” going with hop extracts or hop oils in kegs, and was always trying to get approval to brew beers outside of the GB box. He actually succeeded and was given permission to do a Baltic Porter. He also won some GABF and World Beer Cup medals while there. We would mainly talk about lager producing techniques and laugh about how much simpler and loose things were making ales at Oliver, back in the day.

I’ve known Scott since about 2002, before he took over for Jason. He was visiting Baltimore and went to the Wharf Rat to look for me. My future wife Stacie was GM and was working at the time. So she pointed him up to Brewer’s Art where I used to spend quite a few of my Friday evenings. We hit it off and have been friends ever since.

I was very sad to see Jason go, but I knew he had a very special opportunity. I was familiar with Charlottesville and thought a brewpub would crush it down there. Over the years, Scott and I have become great friends as well, though due to the addition of my daughters, I don’t spend as much time as I used to going out in DC. But if I do go out, Scott is my first message. We help each other out quite a bit. He has been supplying me with lager yeast for years...As far as brewers go Scott is a traditionalist, and I admire that in this day and age. Scott and Jason are two great brewers that both focus on quality, but they couldn’t be more different as artists. I love that about brewers!

Basically, as much as I’ll miss the brewery, I’ll still have friendships with all the great people who worked there, especially Jason and Scott. 

Barrett Lauer, Head Brewer, The District ChopHouse and Brewery

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Get over to Gordon Biersch while you still can, and be sure to visit Scott Lasater at his new home at Gordon Biersch Navy Yard.

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