San Josean spotlight: Dan Gordon of Gordon Biersch

Let’s talk about this local legend who brought not just the highly popular Gordon Biersch Brewery to San Jose, but even more internationally loved beer.

Dan Gordon poses behind the bar with Gordon Biersch beer infront of him.

Celebrate Dan Gordon at this year’s Valley of Heart’s Delight fundraiser.

Photo by Susan Harding

At History San Jose’s upcoming Valley of Heart’s Delight Annual Fundraiser on Thursday, Oct. 12, the organization will honor a very special San Josean — brewmaster + Gordon Biersch co-founder Dan Gordon.

Gordon + his co-founder Dean Biersch, started a little Palo Alto brewpub in 1988 that would grow to become Santa Clara County’s biggest brewer.

⭐ The man, the myth, the legend

Born in San Jose in 1960, Gordon grew up in Los Altos and attended Homestead High before pursuing a resource economics degree at UC Berkeley in the 1980s.

After college, he was accepted into a prestigious five-year brewing engineering program at the Technical University of Munich in West Germany. He earned his degree in 1987 and and interned at Spaten Brewery.

With all these skills in his back pocket, Gordon was destined to brew something up back in the US.

🍻 Dedicated to San Jose

Following the opening of the flagship Gordon Biersch restaurant in 1988, the two co-founders opened a chain of 11 more brewpubs.

Though San Jose’s location closed in 2018, the Gordon Biersch brewing + bottle facility that opened in 1997 in the old California Canners and Growers plant is still going strong.

As the director of operations at the Japantown brewery, Gordon is committed to being a community player. He’s pushed for a frequent San Jose Jazz presence (he used to play trombone regularly with the group), and hosts the summer Gordon Biersch Night Markets annually.

💰 The fundraiser

Though tickets are no longer available to Thursday’s event, anyone wanting to make a donation in Gordon’s honor to support History San Jose + its Title I School Fund, is more than welcome to do so. The fund helps students from local Title I schools attend immersive field trips + learn more about their local heritage.

❓ Trivia question

What can Dan Gordon be credited for inventing?

A. Beer cozies
B. Garlic fries
C. Beer-battered onion rings
D. Mechanical hops separator

Make your guess.

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