Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

A Happy Friday At Drake’s Brewing

By William Brand
Monday, November 7th, 2005 at 11:55 pm in Uncategorized.

If you want to drink good beer, there are few places that equal the San Francisco Bay Area. I started out Friday at Drake’s Brewing ( in San Leandro, CA and ended Saturday night at the Toronado Wet Hop Festival in San Francisco More on the Toronado tomorrow.

First, let’s talk about Drake’s: There’s an open house at the brewery every Friday from 4-7 p.m. Buy a glass for $3, then beer’s $1.25 a pint. There are also sausages, hot dogs and other snacks, free. To get check out this link.

I talked to head brewer Rodger Davis and brewer Melissa Myers. Got a chance to taste two amazing beers they plan to release soon in 7 ounce bottles with gold foil tops.

The first is their 2003 Holiday beer, Jolly Roger***, aged in brandy barrels for two years. It’s 11 percent, has a brandy noose and smooth, malty character. Hops are there too, but not so pronounced as they once were.

The second was the 2003 Drake’s Barley Wine***. It’s been aging in brandy barrels since December, 2003. Right now it’s 14.7 percent and fairly breathtaking, aroma more like a Madeira or aged port than a beer. But the taste proves it’s definitely beer. There are hops, notes of brown sugar, maybe raisins and a wallop from the alcohol. This one will be a fine after dinner drink; it’s meant to sip, not guzzle.

Both will be released in December. You’ll be able to find them in good beer stores like Ledger’s Liquors, 1399 University Ave., Berkeley, and the Beverages N’More stores.

Rodger and Melissa also have a 2005 Jolly Roger, made using Drake’s founder Roger Lind’s 1990 recipe. There are a few differences. Roger used dry yeast. Rodger uses liquid yeast, the Chico ale version, and Simcoe hops, which produces a piny, pleasant aroma with low bitterness.

Don’t know where to find good beer in the Bay Area, email me at or call 510-915-1180. Ask for our 2005 Retail Beer List.

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