Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving is coming!

Thanksgiving is just around the corner!

Which means it's time to eat and eat and drink and eat and drink and drink and then eat some more (at least that's how my Thanksgivings are...)

Beer is a great drink to pair with Thanksgiving dishes. And, not only pair, but cook with. However, you don't want to throw just any old beer style in with the stuffing or gravy- cooking with beer takes a little work. And, while you can drink whatever beer suits you with Thanksgiving dinner, if you do want to set up some great beer and food pairings you'll need to plan ahead a bit.

For example, last year, I didn't think twice about what beer I'd be drinking with dinner. I stuck my head in the beer refrigerator and pulled out a big, dark, hefty beer- by that I mean 15% ABV, 107 IBUs- one of the most filling beers I've ever had. Although the beer paired nicely with the food flavor-wise, suffice it to say that this beer was not a great pick while stuffing my face with triple helpings of mashers and turkey- this resulted in a near-literal interpretation of a beer-food coma!

This year, in addition to having a few selections of beer at dinner, I'm planning on throwing some beer into a few of the dishes. Some of you reading this might not be so sure about cooking with beer- well, let me digress for a few minutes to discuss a little history about beer and why beer is an amazing ingredient.

Once upon a time, beer was considered food. It all started many, many years ago in the Middle East, when the ancient peoples began cultivating barley. They found that when boiled, the grain tasted much better (sweeter). The thick sugary soup eventually became a thick malted brew. Depending on the region a beer was made in, certain spices, herbs and other ingredients were added to make the "dish" taste better.

Beer has come a long
way since those days. For awhile, beer was pushed aside as people made way for wine at the dinner table, but, as Randy Mosher will point out in his introduction of Lucy Saunders' The Best of American Beer & Food:

"with it's vast range of strength, color, bitterness, sweetness and aromatic delights to work with, it is a rare food that fails to find a beery partner... matching up beer and food is really about using common sense and paying attention."

And so we arrive here today, a society full of craft beer, beer pairings, beer chefs, beer dinners, and beer as an ingredient. Beer can play many roles in cooking and baking. I came across a great article called "Tips for Cooking with Beer" by Kate Heyhoe of Global Gourmet, that summarizes how beer can be used in cooking. Here are some of the main points:

Beer flavors food in 3 ways:
1. Bitterness from the hops
2. Sweetness from the malt
3. Yeast from the beer has tenderizing enzymes

Some guidelines to consider:
1. An all-beer meal is usually NOT a good idea

2. There is no need to pair a dish with the same beer you used to cook with

3. Sweet foods benefit from the bitterness of hops
  • Use sugary veggies like onions, carrots, corn etc. and even add some sweetener like molasses, honey, or sugar

4. Hop bitterness helps counteract the richness of creamy, oil-
based or cheesy dishes.
  • Use sparingly as you would a squeeze of lime or vinegar
5. Acidic foods can compliment the sweet flavors of beer, adding depth and balance
  • Think tomatoes, citrus fruits, vinegar and mustard
6. Yeast is a great tool for battering and baking.
  • Breads and pancakes benefit from very yeasty brews, which can lighten the texture and make for soft, delicious crusts

7. Beer tenderizes meats (enough said!), making for great marinades

8. The more beer is cooked and reduced, the stronger the flavor will be. If the dish requires long cooking and reduction, avoid using too strong a brew.

9. Pale Ales and Nut Brown Ales are good for starters. IPAs are often too bitter for cooking.

10. For newbies to beer cooking, robust dishes are a great way to start so you can learn to distinguish the effects beer has on the dish. Then, you can experiment with the more subtle effects beer has on more refined flavorings.

Now that I've divulged to you the briefest version of beer and food history, let's figure out how this applies to Thanksgiving dishes.

Beer can be used to prepare any number of Thanksgiving dishes including the turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, sweet potatoes, gravy, cranberries, and even pecan pie.

Regular potatoes, which can be both rich and creamy or sweet (or both!), are nicely prepared with an IPA or pale ale. As stated above, the hoppy character of these beers can balance the sweetness and richness of a dish. The flavors in sweet potatoes and yams, on the other hand, will be accentuated by a malty beer such as an alt beer or dubbel because yams are a little sweeter than regular potatoes, but still have a very earthy flavor.

Stuffing can be prepared in a number of ways because the bread absorbs whatever flavors the ingredients contain. You can make a rich stuffing to go with a more simple entree, or a simple stuffing to go with a rich entree. In general, you'll want to stick with maltier beers when making stuffing (examples: brown ale, ESB, bock) because a hoppy beer will only intensify when cooked and reduced, and the bread will absorb most of the hop bitterness.

Perhaps the most common way to prepare veggies with beer is the beer-batter them. However, fried foods can be a little too rich for Thanksgiving, along with all the other big flavors of the meal. Depending on how you like your veggies prepared, you could make a light "sauce" with beer, vinegar, butter and some other seasonings to toss with almonds and blanched veggies (I suggest green beans).

When preparing the gravy, throw in a little bit of a mostly-malty beer, with a slight hop-kick to blend well with the earthy yet rich flavors of gravy.

The light flavor of cranberries, with their touch of bitterness, are well complimented with a light wit or wheat beer. Try and find a beer with some spices like clove and nutmeg, and also light enough that no malt or hop characters dominate the flavor.

Turkey can be prepared in so many different ways, and beer can aid in it's preparation. Just remember, the longer you cook something in beer, the more the beer is reduced and the flavors shine through. If you're preparing a recipe that involves cooking the turkey for a long time, I suggest using a lighter beer, like a Hefeweizen, rather than a stout or a predominantly hoppy beer.

While you still might think it sounds crazy, beer in pie is delicious. Definitely go for a big-flavored, malty beer, with some spices or chocolately qualities, and very little hops.

If you're interested in trying to incorporate beer into some of your Thanksgiving dishes, but you aren't quite sure where to start, check out the Homebrew Chef's (Sean Paxton) website. After looking at his site, I've decided to make Roasted Garlic IPA Mashed Potatoes for my Thanksgiving dish, with some Drake's IPA:


If you aren't going to incorporate beer into your dishes, you can always just drink it (or do both!). Being as it is the season to spread holiday cheer, I'm going to turn that cheer into rosy cheeks, and bring some Drake's
Jolly Rodger, Denogginizer and a growler of our George Brett Sour Ale. They should pair nicely with the big, flavorful dishes of a Thanksgiving feast.

While I know I've gone into some serious depth about beer and Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving is one of my most favorites times of the year. Family and friends coming together, lots of home-cooked meals, colder weather, and some craft beer to warm us up. Yes, I am very thankful for all of that!

Cheers 'til next time!


Monday, November 15, 2010

The Great Debate and what Drake's did About It

While the weather isn't acting like it's Fall yet (at least not in the Bay Area), Drake's started to brew up a great Fall beer- the first batch of a very special IPA.

Some of you may have heard of a "Cascadian Dark Ale." You may have also heard of a "Black IPA" or an "India Black Ale." And if any of these titles are familiar to you, you've maybe heard about the ongoing debate about which one should be the official name for the style of beer. For those of you who haven't heard of any of this, here's a little history on the issue.

People hailing from the Northwest believe "Cascadian Dark Ale" best suits the beer style. According to a posting on by Matt Van Wyk from Oakshire Brewing Company in Eugene, Oregon (part of the "Republic of Cascadia," i.e. the Northwest- does this include Northern California? That's a debate unto itself...), a Cascadian Dark Ale should have a flavor balance between a big "Northwest" hop aroma, meaning "citrusy, piney and resinous," some sweet malty flavors, hints of roasted malt, chocolate malt, or some caramel notes, and a dry finish. Here are some of the other reasons, according to Van Wyk, to call this beer style a CDA:

1. Using the term "black" and "pale" in the beer name is confusing to a consumer
2. It does not taste just like an IPA
3. Asking for an IBA in a noisy bar or restaurant sounds too much like IPA and may cause confusion, resulting in receiving the wrong beer
4. Many of the ingredients for a CDA should be sourced from the Cascadian region
5. Many early pioneers of the style come from the Cascadian Region

Indeed, some very interesting and unique points Matt...

Proponents of dubbing the beer style Black IPA or IBA obviously feel differently than Van Wyk. This video, Cascadian Dark Ale Debate, created by Michael Dawson and Jake Keeler of BrewingTV, is a great resource for more in depth information on the issue.

Personally, I don't really care one way or another. I understand why the Cascade region wants to call the beer a Cascadian Dark Ale, and I can even understand why the beer style should be called that across the board (if most of the main and defining ingredients are from Cascadia, why not call it a Cascadian Dark Ale? We call some beers "English Bitter" and "Irish Red," so why can't Cascadia call their version of the beer what they want?). BUT I can also see why a more general name like Black IPA or IBA is desirous- you don't have to make a dark beer with roasty characteristics and similar to an IPA in hop profile with Cascade hops...

... and that's exactly what Drake's did!

Drake's response to this debate was to come up with their own name and even their "own style." After all, the Drake's motto is "Drink Different..." This beer isn't meant to be a statement in favor or against either side of the debate. It's just meant to be an awesome beer with big flavor and hop aroma.

And so, without further a do, I introduce to you our Chinookian IPA. A DARK, HOPPY ale, reminiscent of an India Pale Ale, made with a variety of hops including a hefty dry-hopping dose of Chinook and Centennial hops. The batch should be ready for retail accounts within the next few weeks. When it does come out, it would be fun to drink alongside some tasters of Cascadian Dark Ales/Black IPAs- you know, just to see if there is a difference...

And don't you worry, I'll be sure to let you know when Drake's Chinookian hits the bars in the Bay Area.

Cheers 'til next time!


P.S. Just for the record, the beer on the left is the "Cascadian Dark Ale" and the beer on the right is the "Black IPA"...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thank the Beer gods it's Friday!

Hello fellow beer-lovers!

I want to fill you in on some
Drake's happenings.

We had several Jolly Rodger release parties this week at beer bars throughout the East Bay. In addition to two draft release parties on Monday and Tuesday, beer revolutionaries gathered together for the release of Jolly in bombers at a beer bar near Jack London Square. I took some video footage of our Sale Manager, Dow Tunis, giving a little speech.

Drake's Brewing Co. Jolly Rodger 2010 Bottle Release Party

The Bistro in Hayward is hosting their 5th Annual West Coast Barrel Aged Beer Fest this Saturday, November 13. We'll be pouring several Drake's barrel aged beers (see below). Hope to see you there.

Here's the line-up for the Barrel festival:

Brett Butler- Aged 10 months. 9% ABV. A Belgian Triple aged in a Pinot Noir barrel and briefly exposed to the San Leandro atmosphere. An excellent lead-off hit when going into sour left field. It was the year of the pitcher this last year, but this beer still hits with a budding tartness that balances the body.

Wyld Stallyns- Aged two and a half years. 7.9% ABV. This black beauty watches over two great ones, Josh Theodore Logan and Brian S. Preston, Esquire, who super-soured some excellent Imperial Stout and ESB beers and blended them together.

Volte-Face- Aged one and a half years. 5.5% ABV. A Sour Belgian Blonde & Sour Amber do the flip-flop of sour tastes. Belgian imparts the "trebly & high-end" character, and the Amber comes in with an early sourness.Diplomatically revolutionary to each other.

The Creator has a Master Tape- Aged one year. 6.0% ABV. Two-beers in one single-barrel blend of American Red and Porter cellared in a Port Barrel.

Kadath Decoded- Aged three years. 10% ABV. In this dream sequence, a wine barrel mixture of eighty percent Imperial Stout aged in French Oak Pinot Noir and Merlot barrels is blended with twenty percent Barleywine aged in a French Oak Grenache barrel.

Our taproom is open from 1-7pm today. Bring yourself, your friends, and even a snack if you so desire.

Cheers, til next time!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The New Drake's Blog


For those of you loyal Drake's blog subscribers, and those of you newcomers, I have something exciting to share with you...

...I’m changing up the style of this here blog.

I’m going to be including a lot more about what's going on at the brewery, with the people who work at the brewery, with the Bay Area beer scene, the California beer scene, the US beer scene... heck, even the world beer scene! I’ll also be throwing in some brewer's blurbs, food and beer pairings and recipes, and more. So, be sure to subscribe to the Drake’s blog if you haven't already-- subscribing makes reading the blog nearly effortless, meaning, it's time to relax with a nice cold Drake's beer...

And while you enjoy that beer, why don't I take a few moments to tell you who “I” am and what’s going on at Drake’s.

My name is Brittany, and I’m new here at Drake’s. I recently moved back to the Bay Area from beautiful Boulder, Colorado. I'll be helping out with Sales and Marketing. You’ll probably see me around the brewery, at events and, very likely, at pubs around the Bay Area.

A Guide to the Blog

1. Brewery Happenings

2. New Beer Alert

3. Beer & Food Pairing

4. Current events, Hop Topics & Legislative Matters

* Hop Topic- Women, Craft Beer & the Beer Bloggers Conference 2010


Last Friday, we hosted our First Friday Event. Beer was flowing, people were in TGIF-mode and Emergency BBQ provided us with some tasty dinner. For those of you who didn’t make it, or are newcomers and would like to attend the next Drake's event, find out more on the website. Be sure to sign up for our e-newsletter for monthly brewery news. For those of you who did go, feel free to share some of your stories and pictures on our Facebook page!


Drake's Jolly Rodger 2010: Our holiday beer, is being released this week. Every year, Jolly Rodger comes to us in a different style, and this year, it's an Imperial Red Ale, a big, malty beer with a huge hop aroma. Hmmmm, hops... Weighing in at 8% ABV, this beer is sure to satisfy you hop-heads, malt-lovers, and those who like a nice kick-in-the-head every now and then. Jolly will be available in stores in 22 ounce bombers, and on draught around the Bay Area sometime later this week, so keep your ears and eyes open.

Alpha Session Ale: Looking for a beer with a bit lighter alcohol content? (What? Why? Just kidding! We all enjoy a great-tasting beer with less alcohol so we can drink A LOT MORE of it!) Our brewers created Alpha Session Ale with the same big flavors as an IPA, but lower alcohol content… so you can drink more of them. I’m definitely not complaining about that...


Ravioli with a Creamy Carbonara Sauce

For you foodies out there, you may have already realized how well craft beer goes with food. Even if you haven't experimented with craft beer and food pairings yet, it's never too late to start. Craft beer has earned its place at the table, and I’m here to experiment with you. That being said, I’m no expert (though I wish I was...), and if you have any suggestions or beer and food pairings of your own, share them here. While I am proud, I enjoy constructive feedback, so dig in…

With winter right around the corner, leaves falling off of trees, rain, and frost covering everything in the mornings, I was in the mood for something warm and rich. Hoppy beers help cut through rich dishes, balancing out the meal. When I got home last night, after sitting in some painful Bay Area traffic for an hour and deciding to skip out on my trip to the grocery store, I ended up finding inspiration for the perfect dish—ravioli with a creamy carbonara sauce. This recipe took me an hour from start to finish, and that was with me being distracted on the phone, chatting with my family, browsing the internet and enjoying a beer… point being, it could probably take you as little as thirty minutes if you were motivated.


Serves 3-4

1 bag ravioli

1 cup milk or cream

3 tbsp chopped garlic

3 tsp flour

3 tsp Dijon mustard

3-4 mushrooms, diced

¼ cup yellow onion, diced

1/3 cup diced ham (lunch meat works great!)

½ cup shredded Parmesan or Asiago

2 eggs



Red pepper flakes





Boil the water (extra salted and a bit of olive oil). Add ravioli. Cook for about five minutes.

Mix milk/cream, flour, Dijon, and a bit of salt and pepper in a bowl. Saute onions in a little olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat for 3-4 minutes (just before they caramelize). Add garlic and cook for about one minute. Add milk mixture, and whisk in to combine. Let sit on low heat, stirring occasionally. Do not let boil! Add dash of tarragon, rosemary, salt and pepper, basil and red pepper flakes, and diced mushrooms while it heats up and thickens (about 15 minutes).

In a separate bowl mix eggs, shredded cheese, salt and pepper.

Saute ham in a separate pan until crispy.

After ravioli is cooked, drain all but 1/8 cup pasta water. Reserve in separate container. Return ravioli to low heat and warm up. Pour thickened milk sauce onto ravioli and mix. Pour reserved pasta water into egg mix, whisk quickly, then pour over ravioli and stir. Add ham and mix up. Let heat for about a minute or two and turn off heat. Let sit for several minutes, then serve.

I tried this dish with Drake’s 1500, IPA and Jolly Rodger 2010. First, I tasted it with the 1500. While the floral hop aroma and taste are enjoyable, neither complimented or helped the dish. I moved on to the IPA and found a similar problem. Both the 1500 and the IPA have huge hop characters that actually overpowered the dish (much to my surprise). However, I realized that my dish wasn’t as rich as a traditional carbonara or cream sauce is because I used lunch meat ham, which is pretty lean, instead of bacon, and low fat milk instead of cream. I thought maybe I’d botched up the pairing, when I came to the Jolly Rodger. One sip and I knew I’d hit the jackpot. The malty character of the beer, mixed with its higher alcohol content, and hoppy undertones from being dry-hopped, cut the mild-richness of the dish while adding other big flavors and a touch of sweetness.

Let me know what you think about this pairing, and add any of your own suggestions in the comments section.


Current Events

  • Pumpkin beer? Sure. Sweet potato beer? Uhhh... sure? Fullsteam Brewery in Durham, North Carolina makes a sweet potato beer each year, and now breweries like Allagash Brewing Company out of Maine, and The Bruery in California are trying their hand in the unique beer style. Read more here.
  • Breweries are poppingup all over California, especially in the Bay Area. Southern Pacific Brewing, currently under construction, will hopefully be open in early February. Check out the article here.
  • San Diego Beer Week is in full swing. For more information on events and what's going on in So Cal, click here.
  • Beer = the rise of civilization? Archaeologists have long been proponents of the belief that ancient peoples domesticated grains to turn them into beer, and new evidence strengthens the claim even more. Recently, archaeologists found indications that people traveled great lengths to procure grains despite the tedious process necessary to make them edible, combined with the knowledge that feasts were central to community-gatherings, support the hypothesis that grains were being turned into beer. Read the full article here.
  • On November 18, the San Francisco Museum & Historical Society will present the William C. Ralston Corporate Award to Fritz Maytag and Dave Burkhart on behalf of Anchor Brewing Company. Read more about Maytag and Burkhart.

Hop Topics

Women, Craft Beer & the Beer Bloggers Conference 2010

Last weekend marked the first ever Beer Bloggers Conference. Staged in Boulder, Colorado, the conference was set up for beer bloggers to gather and discuss trends, barriers, and leading ideas in the beer blogging world.

Of all the topics discussed, one session sparked quite a debate. Several women spoke on how to attract more female beer blog readers. The session quickly turned into a discussion on whether or not female-oriented beer blogs and groups are appropriate and necessary, or if they divide female and male craft beer drinkers even more. Sites like Girls' Pint Out and Ladies of Craft Beer help educate new and veteran female craft beer drinkers alike. They provide an atmosphere where women don't feel intimidated discussing and learning about beer. One blogger, Jim Pavlik (writer of Central State Asylum) wrote in response to the session, "Women are a marginalized group. This marginalization is exaggerated in the world of beer where women are always sexualized commodities meant to sell beer, not drink it." Sites like GPO help more women feel comfortable taking part in the craft beer world, but do they further the stereotype that female craft beer drinkers are different than male craft beer drinkers?

Jennifer Litz of Girls' Pint Out makes a strong statement in a recent blog post about why she does believe in female-oriented craft beer sites. She explains how many brewers and industry members, both men and women, ask her why she created a divisive site that separates women from men. She retorted with "It's as divisive... as Boy's Poker Night," and then went on to explain that the real focus should be about the discrepancy between the number of male versus female craft beer drinkers, and how Girls' Pint Out is helping to close the gap by educating women about craft beer, but in a fun way. Litz sums up her point with the following: "Female craft beer consumers can't agree on a unified representation of themselves, because there isn't one. The overly dramatic, emotionally charged spat going on right now quite ironically ignores this point. We are all different, and we should politely accept it... In fact, the cat-fight is looking a lot like an old school beer ad's dream. Just Photoshop us in a vat of 'Fizzy yellow beer.'"

Here's my take on the issue: I'm a woman (or a girl, lady, female). I'm 5' 1", I'm muscular, I run, I love craft beer. Sometimes, when I go into a restaurant and want to order beer, the server suggests something light, like a Blue Moon (offensive). I get raised eyebrows occasionally from strangers while I peruse the beer selection at the grocery store. Most of my girl friends cringe at the thought of "grabbing a beer," (oh no, the calories! Because apparently there aren't calories in other alcoholic beverages...). Most of my guy friends stare at me with wide eyes and open mouths when I start talking about the beer process. My parents used to think this "beer thing" I liked would pass. Their friends aren't quite sure what to think about my being involved in the beer industry-- a mix of aw and confusion ("So, uh, do you actually... brew the beer?") And while me brewing beer isn't the craziest idea in the world (aside from the fact that I have almost no upper body strength and because I've actually never brewed beer before... at least not yet!), a female brewer is a rare gem. Whether that's a result of stereotypes or the ratio of females in the craft beer industry, I don't know. What I do know is that more and more women are enjoying craft beer and working in the craft beer industry. However slowly we're moving, we're still moving in the right direction.

My advice to women getting into craft beer-- do what makes you happy and the most comfortable. If you want to, join a group like Girls' Pint Out, or, don't. I lived in Boulder for the last four years, which is where I met craft beer. While I knew most of my female friends weren't interested in the the good stuff, that didn't stop me from learning everything I could about beer. In fact, I love it when a person sizes me up (me being kind of small and whatnot) and asks in shock if I actually drink beer. YES! And I show them my pearly whites because I've just taught them a few lessons. One, girls like beer. Two, you can love beer and be a petite woman. I am a woman. I have womanly tendencies. I talk like a woman. I dress like a woman. I enjoy being a woman. I LOVE craft beer. And, I proudly own all of that.

To sum up, I don't care what method you prefer in terms of getting into craft beer- just get into it!

Legislative Matters

The Beer Maker Dinner bill, A.B. 2134, put forth by the California Small Brewers Association, has become law. According to Support Your Local Brewery, "The legislation allows licensed brewers to conduct and participate in events featuring craft beers paired with food called 'Beer Maker Dinners.' Such consumer events may be held a restaurants that purchase a brewer's products. This measure creates a tied-house exception similar to one in existing law for winemakers." Read more about this bill here.

California State Proposition 26 passed, requiring a two-thirds vote to pass new taxes and fees, and thus provides a defense for small craft brewers who already have the burden of high taxes. Read more here.

The CARE Act of 2010 (Comprehensive Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness Act of 2010) is being reviewed by the House of Representatives (H.R. 5034). The bill was introduced in late Spring of 2010 due to wholesalers' concerns. According to the Brewers Association, as the bill currently stands, the CARE Act "would amount to an abandonment of Congressional authority over interstate commerce in alcohol beverages. It will undermine existing federal authority over taxation, product composition, labeling, advertising and importation of goods from other nations... H.R. 5034 invites states to enact inconsistent laws that needlessly raise costs and impede small brewers' efforts to expand into new markets." To read more about the bill, click here.

Well loyal readers, our time here is up. I'll be back next week with more on Drake's, the beer world, and another food and beer pairing. Feel free to leave some suggestions for future pairings, and any other comments you have. Cheers, and hoppy drinking!


Tuesday, November 2, 2010


The next Drake's Friday will be held November 5th, from 4pm to 8 pm. For more information go to our Fridays Page at