Second Annual Kolsch Cup Challenge at Gordon Biersch Navy Yard

Unfortunately, I missed the First Annual Kolsch Cup, so I made it a point to come to the Second. It’s hosted at the Gordon Biersch brewpub near the National Stadium in Washington, DC. Kolsch is a light summer beer, originally from Cologne, Germany. It tends to be a little hoppier than other light German lagers and can sometimes have a bit of fruitiness to it. Since it is a German beer, it is not a surprise that Gordon Biersch makes one as their seasonal summer beer. As part of the launch of the summer beer, they put it up against a number of other breweries to see which is best. Three are judged as best by certified beer judges and three are voted the crowd favorites. For $20 you get a free tasting glass and tickets for 20 samples of beer. You can try all 20, or you can have 20 samples of the same beer, if you like. Of course, Gordon Biersch also serves food and their own regular beers. The photo shows the lineup. The breweries were from as far away as St. Louis (Schlafly) and Michigan (New Holland), but most were local to the DC area. In a dubious sort of way Gordon Biersch’s entries were by separate location. I know they have brewers at each one, but it meant 6 out of 20 were from Gordon Biersch. The ones I thought stood out the most did not win any recognition. Of course, that can happen, people’s tastes are different. Out of the 20 entries, I admittedly did not get to try all of them. For example, I only tried two of the six Gordon Biersch entries. I also did not try the two Rockbottom brewpub entries. I would have if I’d had more time, but I arrived a bit late and had to get to what I could. I would recommend the Schlafly Kolsch. It was just slightly sweet and a tad fruity, but seemed like it would drink perfectly on a hot day. I also really liked the Blue Mountain Kolsch 151. This one was light and airy, but with a nice little hop bite to it. The two Gordon Biersch Sommerbraus I tried (one from the Navy Yard location and the other from the main DC location on F Street) seemed very similar to me, but they were both very good. The one I liked best though was from a new brewery near Charlottesville called Champion. Like others it was light bodied and easy to drink, but it had a little hops and a slight hint of peatiness or smokiness to it that I thought added a little more complexity. The winners from the Judges were Vintage 50 (1), Gordon Biersch Annapolis (2) and Gordon Biersch Tyson’s Corner (3). The winners among the crowd who voted were Gordon Biersch DC (1), Bluejacket (2) and a tie for third among Mad Fox and Gordon Biersch Annapolis. Thus Gordon Biersch beers dominated four of six of the top spots. I do think the Judges were tasting blind, so it’s not likely they were playing favorites. The Gordon Biersch was good, I will admit. It just wasn’t my favorite.

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