I have always been a fan of Drake’s Brewing Company out of San Leandro, California. The Denogginizer double IPA had me at first sip and I haven’t looked back since. So when I saw that this fine house of hops was within a traveling proximity of my vacation spot I did not hesitate to set the date and make the trip. As with all other craft brew experiences this needed to be shared, so with my invitees here we go on this pilgrimage.
Be warned that if you take this trip, parking will be your first hurdle (you may have to park at the adjacent Walmart), but if the spirit is willing you will be walking up on a modest warehouse with heaven inside. The kitchen is essentially a food cart with three menu items, street tacos, nachos, and quesadillas, and with their beer as a companion to these simple pieces of delightful its hard to improve upon your life at this moment.
No wait staff here. Get your ass up and stand in line at the bar to order your, well, everything, your food, your flights, your growlers, pay your tab, and if you are lucky enough you can ask for the special, not-in-the-cooler brews for purchase. I missed out on buying the Hopocalypse Black Label and I am still very upset about it, so do NOT wait. Buy as soon as you can. While waiting to order, please show proper etiquette and read the menu BEFORE you get to the counter. So when its your turn you don’t seem as if this is your first time outside ever in social situations. Now, the beers…
I naturally went with a flight of the more rare options first, because I am essentially a kid in a candy store and know no control or awareness of moderation. A flight of the Denogginizer, the Bourbon Barrel Aged Drakonic, Barrel Aged Nebula, and the Barrel Fermented Hopocalypse is what awaited my palate and it took me to that familiar place. Craft beer heaven. The Denogginizer being the reason for my affliction with this brewery is as it has always been, outstanding. Its got the sweetness you expect from bitter citrus and a malty spine that supports throughout the experience. Most double IPA’s these days try to smooth out the boozy aspect with hop variations or mixed malts, but that is far from the case here. You feel the 9.75 % ABV with every exhale and every step to the bathroom. Its hard to explain in any other way except to say that it is a glorious experience to actually FEEL your brew. I often imagine running down the beach with brew in hand behind doves…… (ahem) Moving on. The Denogginizer gets an easy 8.75/10 on the UrD scale.
Now the barreled brews that broke my blabbering blatherskeits. The Barrel Aged Nebula is their Barleywine that takes on some cloudy aspects from the barrels but maintains its malty sweetness and the 11% boozy backhand. It will make you blink hard into an exaggerated double take followed by a smile and a “You gotta try this…” 8.5/10 on the UrD scale. Next up was the barrel fermented Hopocalypse. I’m a big fan of the regular Hopocalypse so expectations were high, and honestly the barrels couldn’t tame this behemoth. The pronounced hop mixture dances about your palate, rotting out you teeth and disinfecting your throat. The IBU’s are content to do harm at 100+ and the 9.3% ABV will keep you honest, whether you intend to be or not. For the BF Hopocalypse and the regular one I am thoroughly conflicted with not over fluffing its reputation and overall rating, because I love this beer. If I was being abused by this brew I would keep coming back, because the good and delightful will always outweigh the bad. Lucky for me there is no bad and they get the elusive 9/10 UrD rating.
The Bourbon Barrel-Aged Drakonic stole some thunder from the Hopocalypse with its brilliant eyebrow raising bourbon accents that complimented the chocolate and toffee-like velvet glove over your taste buds. It was the perfect dessert for this group of over indulgers. 8.7% ABV but breathes like a boozy beast twice its potency. Awesome at 8.75/10 UrD.
I would love to go on and on, actually I already have, but I must leave some surprises for your inevitable pilgrimage to this great brewery. I do not use the word great lightly. This beer snob still gets those warm feelings just thinking about the experience and I encourage or rather insist you experience it too.