The beer scene has exploded in Hawaii over the past couple of years. There are more beer bars, breweries and incredible beer choices than ever before. With all of the recent growth it’s amazing to think that Gordon Biersch at Aloha Tower has been brewing in Honolulu for 20 years. The waterfront restaurant pub opened long before the current craft beer craze and has been brewing up quality German style beers the whole time.
Current brewmaster, Jeff Liles, has been with the company for 18 years. The Fresno, CA., native moved to Hawaii, attended K.C.C., and worked as a server at Gordon Biersch. Fate would lead him into brewing. As the brewmaster of a brewery located on a pier, Jeff is a jack of all trades, handling everything from the brewery repairs to 200+ feet beer lines running to the outside bar.
Aloha Tower has seen it’s ups and downs, but Gordon Biersch has always been one of the most scenic spots in Hawaii to grab a pint and relax. You can catch Jeff at one of the many brewer events hosted at the restaurant each month or running around the brewery each day.
How did you get interested in brewing and what was the first beer you ever brewed?
Friends dad was a home brewer. I was drawn to the science behind brewing! My first brew was an IPA. It was a good headache beer.
How did you get started as a professional brewer?
I was waiting tables at Gordon Biersch Honolulu and the brewer needed help one day! Soon after that Dan Gordon relocated me to Davis, CA., to attend the American Brewers Guild.
You’ve been brewing for Gordon Biersch for a long time now. What are the keys to making quality German beers consistently?
Being clean in every aspect of brewing and lab results!
What is your favorite beer to brew and why?
I really love to brew all beers! The smells of brewing are really enticing to me! The smell of cooking mash, the affect that adding hops have to the boiling wort is incredible!
What GB beer do you most often drink yourself?
I love our Hefeweizen and Czech Pilsner!
Gordon Biersch is now owned by the same company that owns the Rock Bottom chain. Will we ever see an IPA or American Stout brewed at a GB pub?
I may have some surprises in store for our guest this year!
What is it like working for and with Dan Gordon? What are the most important things about brewing that he has taught you?
Dan is great! He is an incredible information resource! That everything I do during a brew day has an impact on the end result. Being able to utilize our lab results and fine tune our brews.
Do you brew the same recipes at the Honolulu pub that they brew at the bottling plant in San Jose?
Yes, he even replicates our Hawaiian water for all his keg and bottle products.
Last year you brewed a IPL that was probably the hoppiest beer I’ve ever had from a Gordon Biersch restaurant. Do you have any plans to bring that beer back this year?
Do you have plans to brew more one offs like that? Yes, I will be bringing the IPL back at some point this year. I have a lot of surprises for our guest this coming year.
What are the breweries or other brewers that inspire you and influence you?
Brewing for Gordon Biersch I’ve been greatly influenced by the Bavarian styles from the Weihenstephan. I seek out a lot of traditional styles, I’m always looking for a well- balanced beer. There are 2 brewers that have had huge impact on my brewing style, Jay Misson and John Tucci. Both have an extensive German brewing background.
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