Drakes goes whole hog, beer lovers pig out

Beer pairs well with a wide spectrum of foods, from hors d'oeuvres to dessert. But no protein matches up with beer better than our friend, the pig. Germans and other gourmands enjoy beer with just about every part of the pig, Schweinshaxn (pig’s knuckle) to Schweinschnitzel (breaded cutlets), pork loin, pulled pork, pork loin and on and on.
Drakes Brewing in San Leandro went whole hog at its SF Beerweek food fest on Wednesday. For its feast, dubbed "Sau and Brau," Drakes teamed up with Oakland's own Chop Bar, which made a dramatic entrance with a whole roasted pig, along with flat bread, a tasty potato side, greens, and a yummy chipotle sauce.
Sau and Brau kicked off with a congenial cocktail hour featuring three of Drakes standout brews: IPA, 1500 and the hop lover favorite, Hopocalypse. The arrival of the pig triggered the introduction of a host of barrel-aged and sour beers: Hooked on Drakonics, a bourbon-barrel aged imperial stout; Barrel Droop, Drakes 2008 barleywine aged in bourbon barrels; aged Brewers Droop, the same beer aged two years in steel barrels; Brett Butler, a Belgian triple aged in French oak and inoculated with brettanomyces; and Sauer Brauer, a sour blend of Belgian blonde beer and Drakes Amber, aged in a Merlot barrel, with some brett added.

Pork loves beer in general, but has a special affinity for dark, malty beers like stouts. Hooked on Drakonics was a real crowd-pleaser. Imperial stouts can be massive and awkward, but Drakes' version was well-balanced, smooth and even subtle--characteristics all too infrequently associated with the style. It was an ideal complement to the roasted pork, highlighting some of the dish's roastier flavors without overwhelming any of them. And the pork toned down a little of the beer's 10.5% abv booziness.
Beer can also pair well with dessert, and Drakes had the perfect brew to accompany Chop Bar's luscious red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. The brettanomyces in Sauer Brauer was just the thing to contrast with the red velvet cake, which was a little too sweet on its own. Again, the combination of the cake and beer created an experience that was greater than the sum of its parts, and a delicious punctuation to a well-conceived meal.
Sau and Brau also served to christen Drake's new facility across from the brewery.
The vast warehouse will be divided among offices, barrel and beer bottle storage, and a tasting room. This is a welcome development for Drakes' legion of followers, who will no longer need to shiver in the cold parking lot during the brewery's monthly parties. For Sau and Brau, guests were mostly seated at long tables, Oktoberfest style, which made for easy conversation with other diners. Under such circumstances and after a few potent ales, it's very easy to make friends with folks who a couple of hours before were complete strangers.

The new Drakes, under the ownership of John Martin of Triple Rock, is trying hard to build a business that is woven into the local East Bay fabric, and at Sau Brau it hit all the right notes of great quality food and beer in a casual, fun environment. Drakes was always good, but if it maintains the course its on, the brewery has a chance to hit new heights.


Drakes Brewing Company
1933 Davis St
Ste 177

Phillips Ln & Beecher St)
San Leandro, CA 94577
(510) 568-2739

Chop Bar
247 4th St
Ste 111
(between Jackson St & Alice St)
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 834-2467

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