Plenty of beer drinkers know Drake’s Brewing like an old friend, but many others are surprised to hear San Leandro has a brewery. Double surprise! As of the summer of 2011, San Leandro also has a fancy tasting room. That is, some of the beers are fancy, not the atmosphere (thank goodness).
Drake’s has long been open to the public on certain days for sales and tastings, and for the First Friday parties that benefit local schools and non-profits. The Drake’s Barrel House ups the ante by offering a wide variety of beers on tap and to go 5 days a week, including barrel-aged specialty beers.
On my first visit, I stared at the lengthy menu for quite a while before manager Gabrielle Chan, who’s met me before and apparently remembered I have eclectic tastes, suggested I try a Brett Butler sour amber ale aged in Chardonnay barrels. Good call.
I don’t suffer from menu paralysis at most bars, but perhaps you’ll understand when I share that day’s choices with you:
- First blackboard: hefe, 1500, IPA, amber, Red Eye, Black Robusto porter, dry stout, gold, 3000 hoppy black ale, Expedition red, and Jupiter Honey Wheat (most are $4.50/pint, $3.50/half pint, $1.25/5.5 ounce sample, $15/60 oz pitcher).
- But wait, there’s a menu of strong beers! Denogginizer imperial IPA, Drakonic imperial stout, Triple Rock Titanium golden ale, and Jupiter Quasar double IPA ($5.50/12 ounces).
- Finally, the beers that named the place, the barrel-aged choices: Brewer’s Droop bourbon barrel barleywine, brandy barrel Drakonic, Sauer Brauer Chardonnay barrel sour cuvee, and Brett Butler Chardonnay barrel sour amber ($7/7 ounces).
I continued to study the something-for-everyone menu while sipping my funky nectar and chatting with other patrons. Early customers ranged from locals to beer industry pros to homebrewers and beer enthusiasts from as far away as San Jose.
I’d arrived by car, so after nursing my 8% beer, I settled for a small sample of stout on nitro and hit the fridge for some refreshments to go. Six-packs ($7.99), cases ($27.99), 22’s ($6.50, or $72 cases) all sat temptingly in the fridge. I went with two bombers of Expedition, on sale for the bargain price of $5 each. I passed for now on a growler ($20-25, with refills for $10-15), but the summer is young.
Click through the slideshow for a virtual visit to Drake’s Barrel House, but do make time for a real visit soon.
Details: 133 Davis Street, San Leandro. Click here for directions.
Hours: Wednesday and Thursday 3-8pm, Friday noon-8pm (closed First Friday), Saturday noon-8pm, and Sunday 1-6pm.
Food: No food on-site except bar snacks like pretzels and nuts. Bring your own meal or order from the Porky’s Pizza Palace menu on the bar. Food trucks will also occasionally be stopping by.
Kids or dogs allowed?: Sorry, no
Non-alcoholic options: There should be two taps dedicated to house-made sodas by the time you read this, and bottled water ($1) or tap water are available.