Being a beer drinker in the Bay Area hasn’t always been this good. It seems like every day there is a new brewery opening up out here, offering a line of well-made beers to both please and challenge our palates. It’s great, and only getting better. When we sit around and talk about this new wave of beers entering the market, Drake’s Brewing gets mentioned right alongside the latest startup almost every time as having just released a beer to watch out for. Amazing, since they have been keeping the Bay Area beer scene alive for the last 27 years.
How does a brewery survive this sometimes toxic environment of opinionated beer drinkers (of which I am several) who are looking for that right mix of attitude and flavors in a market that seems to be both growing in number and shrinking in style selection? Somehow, the folks at Drake’s have been not only surviving, but thriving.
Spending some time walking around their San Leandro facility during their 26th anniversary, I realized just how long the Bay Area has been looking towards this place for consistently good beer in an industry peppered with the opposite. In each loading bay there are popup beer stands, serving any number of oldies-but-goodies right along side some brand new beers. A perfect reflection of an industry that needs to cater to an ever-widening array of tastes. I love my Robust Porters, but I’m also a freak for a tart Berliner Weisse. At Drakes, I got to have both!
Next to the line of food trucks (because hey, it’s the Bay Area), was a collection of beers brewed by Drake’s Brewing alum – folks that have cut their teeth at one time or another at this very facility and are now making waves on their own. A reminder that this place has stayed relevant for longer than most attendees have been of beer drinking age, much less been alive.
Tucked behind a massive Walmart, parking is always tough but you are well rewarded for your troubles with the greatest gift – fresh beer. And on this day, you got so much more than that – barrel-aged stuff, a smoking band, a refresher course in Bay Area brewing history, and a window into what makes Drake’s such a special place: they make something for everyone. In this day and age where every new brewery seems to be riding the cresting wave of hop chasers, these folks are showing you can become a staple by brewing diverse styles, by not focusing on one brewing trend or another, and by just flat out making great beer.
Cheers to the team at Drake’s, and congrats on 27 years of brewing!