For those of you who have not yet visited the brewery, it is nestled away behind a retail shopping center – head between the Sports Authority and Walmart. Don’t let this detour you – the warehouse style tasting room (aka the Barrel House) is a beer lover’s haven, offering patrons up to 24 taps of standard, seasonal and barrel-aged beers. Drake’s regularly produces a variety of excellent IPAs, which are known for their full bodied hoppiness, leading drinkers into a deep Aroma Coma, and for the chose few, a Hopocalypse. In addition to the pursuit of hoppiness, rotating taps provide several specialties, including experimental barrel-aged wonders ranging anywhere from sours to stouts to even a few barleywines. For those of you looking for an armageddon, try the Denogginizer and/or Drakonic Stout, the most powerful of the year-around offerings. A great time to try Drake’s Brewing is during San Francisco Beer Week
Founded in 1989, Drake’s Brewing has a rich history in craft brewing, lending the framework for what makes Drake’s a unique brewery. In 2008, Drake’s was purchased by John Martin of Triple Rock Brewery / Jupiter Brewpub and his business partner, Roy Kirkorian. Triple Rock opened in 1986 under the name “Roaring Rock Brewery & Alehouse” as the fifth brewpub in the US. Today, Triple Rock (renamed) is the only brewpub of the first 5 brewpubs in the US which continues to be owned and operated by its founders.
In 2007, Drake’s Barrel Program began inadvertently when Rodger Davis, former Drake’s brewer, acquired a handful of barrels and used them to experiment. Now one of the largest Barrel-aged programs on the West Coast, Drake’s continues to expand the Barrel Program, focusing on experimentation with different beer styles and a variety of barrels. To date, Drake’s has over 200 barrels previously used in making bourbon, brandy, red wine (merlot, pinot noir, cabernet, etc.), white wine, port, whiskey and Sam Adams Utopias, which currently holds the Reunion Barleywine. The experimental brews are served on tap in the Barrel House and change frequently, offering patrons unique brews upon each visit. Barrel-aged bottling is planned for the near future, which means soon you may be able to get your hands on a bomber of the barrel-aged Drakonic Stout.
Alexandra Nowell is Drake’s Lead Brewer, a well-established female brewer who previously brewed at Moylan’s Brewing Company and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Nowell is a member of the Northern California chapter of the Pink Boots Society, a non-profit organization for women in the beer industry, and came up with the idea to brew the very first Pink Boots Scholarship Beer.
Nowell recently participated in a few notable collaborations, including “Quarter Century of Issues” with Stone Brewing’s Mitch Steele, Dave Hopwood and Zippo Patrick, which is a sessionable pale ale for Celebrator Beer News’ 25th Anniversary. The ale was brewed using the new El Dorado hop – a hop with a minty, fruity profile – marking the first time the brewers have used this hop. Double dry-hopped with Centennial and El Dorado, the collaboration ale is expected to clock in at 4.5% ABV with 43 IBUs.
Secondly, Nowell collaborated with 21st Amendment Brewery’s Shaun O’Sullivan to create a beer for Strong Beer Month, which was released February 1st at 21st Amendment Brewery. The beer, “Nelson, Jade, and Helga” is a triple IPA of 10.5% ABV made with 2-row, caramalt, rye, chocolate malt, and a little roasted barley, along with a combination of New Zealand (Nelson Sauvin & Pacific Jade) and American hops (Centennial & Amarillo).
Despite all the success Drake’s has had, John Martin and his team aren’t slowing down. In early 2014, John and Roy are looking to open a beer garden in Uptown Oakland, which is planned to have a variety of beers on draft and wood-fired pizza set in urban beer garden atmosphere. John is also looking to expand Triple Rock Brewery in 2014 into a larger brewery with a full kitchen, more seating space, and enough room for a shuffleboard table (which some of you may recall from previous days).
For further information please visit Drake’s website here.