San Francisco Stars #4: Drake’s Denogginizer Double IPA, San Leandro, California
Date: July 1, 2019 —
The Story— Drake’s Brewery, then known as Lind’s Brewery, started in 1989, riding the approaching crest of the West Coast craft beer wave. Several changes of ownership have ensured, but the brewery continues to produce reliable and sometimes adventurous beer. Their pilsner is one of the better ones in California, though we’d rather be in Franconia drinking the local there. Their Denogginizer Double IPA, however is a beer from California, of California and for California. It’s an exceptionally good example of the style
We found the beer at the Tabletop Taphouse, directly across the street from the Moscone West Convention Center. Our first visit allowed us a quiet seat at the bar to taste a few beers in relative quiet. The 20 taps are largely pretty common, but they have some local taps that rotate weekly — such as the hazy IPA from Fieldworks, a very juicy– remember canned Donald Duck grapefruit juice?– very modern IPA. But one of the staples seems to be this gem from Drake. They’re now churning out beer on a small regional scale, but they haven’t lost much, if anything, in the growth process. This double IPA is pretty close to a definitive IPA2/Double IPA/Imperial IPA– or by any other name, a big juicy boozy over the top IPA experience.
Drake has one of the coolest bottling line videos we’ve seen lately — and it’s of the Denogginizer. Take a look here.
The Beer– Huge fruit, very ripe with tropical and citrus notes. Some grapefruit emerges in the finish along with Latin American papaya. What are the odds? At breakfast at the Park Central Hotel, the fruit bar featured Central American papaya, which we had never experienced. It’s not as sweet as the more common Hawaiian papaya, but the American version has a richer flavor. We were happy to find our new-found knowledge so useful in a beer tasting a few hours later. An enthusiastic bitter brings it back from Central America to a California context.
Value — Good, maybe even very good. $9.50 for an American “pint” shaker glass ain’t cheap, but neither is much else at the upscale Tabletop Taphouse nor process that produces a beer like this one.
Values: “fair” is a good beer at an above market price, “good” is worth the money, “very good” is a bargain, and “excellent” is a steal.
We just got back from a week in San Francisco. We hadn’t been there in eleven years and the remarkably vibrant beer scene we experienced then has become, well, even vibranter. Ellie, poor girl, had to work long hours during the day while I got to roam the streets checking out the best places to find great beers. At least when Ellie got off work I had places to take her before she crashed for the night. We’ll post a week or two of Beers of the Day by the Bay before returning to research for our book on Inns and Breweries of the Mid-Atlantic.
Interestingly, the downtown area of San Francisco, while awash with beers from the surrounding areas, has few brewing spots of its own. In that regard it reminds us of New York, where you have to leave Manhattan and go to Brooklyn to really find a nest of breweries. Away from downtown, several brewery taps thrive and public transportation gets you almost anywhere. Beyond the city limits, of breweries ring the city, and many of them produce exceptionally good beers and the myriad of tap houses all over town tend to focus on local beers. Name the style you like and you can find an excellent version of it, though at a price.
We’re often asked to share our tasting notes on over 33,000 beers; this blog is in answer to those requests. Not all our notes, though. The great beer writer Michael Jackson admirably followed the Thumper Rule, and we’ll try to do the same. (“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all.”) All the beers we post are from the top half of our ratings and most are from the top quarter. Of greater value, we think, are the stories behind the beers, and we try to give you enough about the brewery, the style and the places to find great beer to help you on your own beer journeys. At CulturAle Press we try to write books and publish posts that will help you “Drink Well and Travel Safely.”