And has a good time to boot…
They are located all across the country— in airports, and even Taiwan. Each restaurant has a big community that all the others are a part of, and they extend that outwards creating a community-oriented presence in each neighborhood they inhabit.
Gordon Biersch releases new beers seasonally throughout the year, all brewed in house by the brewmaster at their on-site brewery. Each release is cause for a celebration called a tapping party, which benefits a particular charity. It’s up to the management team to decide who receives the proceeds from a tapping party, and there are countless patrons and groups who would like to be selected for the honor.
Jessi Leeson-McClure, Gordon Biersch’s general manager, wanted to focus on supporting smaller, and if possible, local charities. “We get together as a management group and speak about the options, and figure out what the best one is in that moment,” she says. This year, they divided donations amongst Grand Strand Miracle Leagues, Red Cross, Children’s Recovery Center, Making Strides, Military Officers Association of America, and Neighbor to Neighbor.
Major tapping parties occur predictably throughout the year, when they showcase what’s on-tap for the season, but they also host various minor ones that can change year- to-year. That’s the case for this past October’s minor tapping party, in which the restaurant is teaming up with 8 other Gordon Biersch locations along the east coast to support Making Strides, in Washington, D.C., a charity which funds breast cancer research. “This is our first time having a tapping party in October,” Jessi tells me, “and as soon as we heard it was an option, we all felt strongly that we wanted to do something to be a part of this cause.”
Every party is unique in terms of theme, the charity to be benefitted, and the beer that is being offered. Oktoberfest, held in September, is a German-themed party, complete with the girls who dress up in traditional German outfits. “Years ago,” Jessi tells me, “we had another manager who was a party planner, and now I am too. We spend about $100 for decorations and the night before we come in and set up and try to make it as nice as possible. It’s fun to change things up.”
Maibock is held in April, and the theme varies every year— sometimes it’s a summer theme, and sometimes a take-me-out-to-the-ball- game theme. Summerbrau, in June, is always the same— a luau and pig roast. “It’s awesome,” she tells me. And in December, they host Winterbock, with a winter white out theme bedecking the restaurant.
“When we have a tapping party,” says Jessi, “each person’s donation goes directly to the charity, we don’t take any proceeds. We donate the food and the beer for the event, and patrons get the new beer on tap and access to the buffet. People come to support a great cause and to be a part of our culture and the community.”
Halfway through the party, the managers and the brewmaster all get together and stand on top of the bar to announce the new brew release, the charity being benefitted, and whatever other conviviality is most befitting the moment. In keeping with German tradition, the brewmaster takes the first drink of the season’s beer from a big glass boot, and passes it around until it’s empty. Surprisingly, no one has ever dropped the boot. “Although,” Jessi tells me, “it was stolen once. But amazingly, we found it without a scratch behind a bush around the corner from here.” Good news for all.
Several years ago, a group of regular patrons who live in the Highland Meadow Community of of Farrow Parkway, decided to add their own celebration to the December mix. They took the initiative to collect toys for underprivileged children and fill the mostly empty box that Toys for Tots dropped off to the restaurant. One day, they surprised Gordon Biersch staff by descending upon them like Santa Claus and his elves, their festively decorated golf carts filled to over-brimming with toys as they paraded from their community to the Market Common.
Dressed as carolers and passing out candy canes, they delivered their gifts to Gordon Biersch and filled twelve giant Toys for Tots boxes for them. Last year they increased the amount; and this year, they want to make it even bigger.
Come out to the Market Common to see the parade this year on Saturday, December 3— they usually arrive in the morning before noon, bedecked in holiday attire and full of merriment.
“They are a great group of people who wanted to do a great thing,” says Jessi, “it just snowballed from there.”
Gordon Biersch, 3060 Howard Ave, Myrtle Beach is open Su- 11am-11pm, Fr & Sa 11-12am. Full menu is available until close. Visit Facebook: Gordon Biersch Myrtle Beach, or 843-839-0249 to see what’s brewing and join in the fellowship.
To see more of the events being hosted in and around the Market Common, check out our events section!