I headed up the 880 to San Leandro with friend Brady to find out what was on tap and we were not disappointed.
Tucked behind and through the shadowy alleys of a colossal shopping mall, Drake's is not easy to find. But as we meandered our way between buildings a brilliant and holy light was shinning down on Drake's Barrel House tap room. Stepping inside this warehouse/taproom we approached a length of bar that fronted about 18 tap mounted to a large walk-in cooler. With only a couple of tables and the bar, the facility appeared mostly devoted to the dozens of barrels for the purposes of aging. Out on the patio were several more tables for enjoying the beer in the sun.
Eager to quench our thirsts we ordered pints of light lagers before launching into some of the barreled aged beers. Brady got the pilsner and I the Kolsch, both were excellent beers right off the bat and a good way to settle in and take the heat off from our long drive from Santa Cruz. The chalkboard above the bar boasted some impressive barrel aged beers that I was anxious to taste.
First up was the 'Portly Imperial', a Russian Imperial Stout aged in a port barrel with black berries and comes in at over 8% abv. I was blown away by how good this beer was, with just a minor influence of flavor from a lactic sourness and port from the barrel the coffee and bittersweet cocoa stand out and the berries blend nicely as a supporting flavor. The alcohol flavor and warmth are evident but minor players in a beer that (if bottled) I would have taken home by the case. This was just the beginning in a line up of beers that continued to impress. There were several other imperial stout aged in different barrels and an imperial IPA 'Denogginizer' has to go on the top of my 'best of' list. This over the top IIPA was incredibly delicious, well balanced and deceptive easy to quaff considering its 9.75% abv.
I spoke with Randy behind the bar who was enthusiastic about helping out at Drake's. He has a thorough knowledge of the beers and the processes that went into making them. He's also and homebrewer and homebrew beer judge. I asked him to help out with my upcoming tasting class at Cabrillo College and I believe he will be there and if I'm lucky he will bring along some of the RIS that I was loving.