Drake’s Brewing Company is Big on Giving Back

Whether it is because, as the drink of the everyman, beer inspires giving back to one’s fellow man, because the tight-knit feeling of community in the Bay Area’s beer scene prompts giving back to the community at large, or because good beer simply causes feelings of happiness and generosity, there is no question that charitable giving is a big item on many Bay Area breweries’ and beer hubs’ agendas.

Drake’s Brewing Company in San Leandro, in particular, is one brewery that has had a longstanding and substantial commitment to giving back to the Bay and especially its hometown. Their main event is “First Fridays” which, until its barrel house opened this past week, were some of the few days Drake’s opened their doors to the public. The first Friday of each month the brewery holds a party and gives the proceeds to a different local charity, often one located in San Leandro itself.

Brittany Dern, sales and marketing spokesperson for Drake’s, explained, “when the First Friday events started, they (Drake’s owners, John Martin and Roy Kirkorian) thought it was a good way to give back to San Leandro, to the community, for supporting Drakes.”

At First Fridays guests are asked to give a $5 donation at the gate, and then they may either bring their own Drake’s glass or purchase one at the brewery. To get a pint, guests then purchase beer tokens. From there, the beer stays flowing into the evening, and all the profits go to the sponsored charity for the night.

This format has caught on too. Devil’s Canyon Brewery in Belmont implemented a similar monthly charitable facet called Cheers for Charity this past May at their monthly Beer Friday events on the last Friday of each month.

But the First Fridays are just beginning for Drake’s charitable arm.  Their event calendar consistently has one or two events on tap that focus on giving back–  even infiltrating some events that you may not have expected to see craft beer before.

Last Thursday, Drake’s represented craft beer at the posh Union Square restaurant Postrio for an event with a few local wineries for the CASA organization of Contra Costa County. CASA, a national organization with several local chapters, provides volunteer mentors or CASAs to help guide particularly vulnerable children in the foster care system. There, roughly 120 guests for $75 a head tasted wine, munched on smoked salmon and mushroom and garlic confit pizzas and drank Drake’s beer.

Drakes Brewing-Guests-at-the-Postrio-Event

Guests at the Postrio event listen to Charles Mead, CASA’s executive director between glasses of wine and Drake’s beer.

At the event, women and men clearly more accustomed to a Napa pinot noir than an IPA, cautiously approached Drake’s representative Jeremy Wanamaker with his long hair and lumberjack-esque beard and build to ask about the brews available. One woman, casually holding a Coach handbag in one immaculately manicured hand, sipped on Drake’s hefeweizen cautiously and declared, somewhat surprised, “I like it!.”


Jeremy Wanamaker explains the beer selection to one guest at the Postrio Micro Beer and Wine Summer Solstice event.

“You worry at these events that people might be, you know, standoffish,” Dern said, “this has been great because people have been very interested.”

According to Dern, the exposure for the beer is admittedly huge perk of doing charitable events. At Postrio, it was quite evident that few of the guests in attendance had never heard of Drake’s before, but several mentioned that they were new fans after trying the beer.

While the event was somewhat an oddity for the Drake’s crew, their participation like most of their charitable giving still stemmed from a close community affiliation. Dern’s father, John Dern, owns Postrio, and his sister has been a volunteer with the CASA organization in San Jose for years.

“If someone in the brewery has their own special project,” Dern said, “they are more than welcome to pitch it.”

Which is exactly what Dern and her father did, and thus was born what could the first of many pizza, beer and wine events Postrio hosts in the future, according to Mr. Dern.  Drake’s, therefore, may make further inroads into the Postrio set than they imagined.

But for Drake’s, spreading the love around is just what they do. This weekend the brewery will be holding their First Friday for the Boys and Girls Club of San Leandro on Friday and then participating along with other local breweries in “Breastfest” at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco on Saturday to support, you guessed it, breast cancer research.

In the end, all the giving and exposure seems to have been a win-win for Drake’s and the organizations they support. Drake’s is one of the faster growing breweries in the area. According to Dern, Drake’s output was just over 6,000 barrels last year, and they expect to hit around 8,000 this year. The brewery also recently opened a taproom at the brewery that will serve Drake’s beer to the public every Wednesday through Sunday.

For Drake’s it seems, some seriously good karma is certainly paying off.

Calendar of Events


July Beer Event Calendar

The mercury is rising alongside the number of beer tastings piling up each month. There are thirty-five featured events this month that should satisfy everyone’s palate. Keep tabs on our main calendar throughout the months as breweries, bars and restaurants announce last minute shindigs. Have a great summer everyone!

July 1


Drake’s First Friday
4:00 pm – 8:00pm, Drake’s Brewing, 1933 Davis Street, San Leandro. (Map)

“Drake’s First Friday Events are fundraisers for local schools & non-profits and this event will benefit the Boys and Girls Club of San Leandro. The band Backbeat will also be on hand playing Beatles covers.

General Info:

$5 per person voluntary donation, to the non-profit organization we are supporting, at the gate. (Children with their parents free)
$15 for a Drake’s tasting glass and 3 tokens for 3 full pours. Additional tokens can be purchased separately ($3.50 each, with net proceeds going to the non-profit)
Great food available for purchase.
Please park in the main West Gate Center lot, in front of Walmart & Sports Authority, and walk back to the brewery. There is no parking at the brewery.”

Amsterdam Cafe 2nd Anniversary Party with Schmaltz Brewing
6:00 pm, Amsterdam Cafe, 937 Geary St., San Francisco. (Map)

“Enjoy a variety of Shmaltz’s delicious and award-winning HE’BREW Beers and Coney Island Craft Lagers, including:

Coney Island Albino Python
Coney Island Sword Swallower
Coney Island Mermaid Pilsner
HE’BREW Genesis Ale
HE’BREW Messiah Bold
HE’BREW Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A.
PLUS, the official San Francisco launch of CONEY ISLAND BARREL-AGED HUMAN BLOCKHEAD, a complex, rich and luscious Imperial American Bock, aged in bourbon barrels (10% ABV.)

Zak Davis, Shmaltz’s Western Regional Sales Manager will be hanging out to answer your beer geekiest questions and to enjoy a brew.”

July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29

Speakeasy’s Firkin Fridays – Open House
4:00 pm – 9:00 pm, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, 1195 Evans Avenue, San Francisco. (Map)

“Fresh pints and free tours starting at 4:00pm.”

July 2

Hop N’ Barley Festival
Skypark, 361 Kings Village Rd, Scotts Valley. (Map)

See website for more details.

The Breastfest Beer Festival
5:00 pm – 9:00 pm, Festival Pavilion Fort Mason, 38 Fort Mason, San Francisco. (Map)

“A Breast Cancer Benefit for Charlotte Maxwell Clinic. $45 in advance, $50 at the door.”

July 4

English Ale Fest
12:00 pm, Beer Revolution, 464 3rd Street, Oakland. (Map)

July 5

Brewery Night: Dogfish Head
6:00pm, Toad in the Hole, 116 5th St., Santa Rosa. (Map)

July 6

Meet the Brewer: Healdsburg Brewing
6:00 pm, Beer Revolution, 464 3rd Street, Oakland. (Map)

July 7

Healthy Spirits Presents Almanac Beer Co
6:00 pm, Fat Angel, 1740 O’Farrell Street, San Francisco. (Map)

“Summer 2010 will be on draft. The Fat Angel kitchen will be preparing food specials.”

Trumer Brewer’s Night
6:00 pm, Petaluma Taps, 205 Kentucky St., Petaluma. (Map)

Local Brewing Kickstarter Midway Point Celebration
6:30 pm – 9:00 pm, Rosamunde Sausage Grill, 2832 Mission Street, San Francisco. (Map)

July 9

Party with Lagunitas
2:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Beer Revolution, 464 3rd Street, Oakland. (Map)

“Beer & BBQ!”

July 10

Sunday Beer Skool
12:15 pm, Beer Revolution, 464 3rd Street, Oakland. (Map)

“Dubbel vs Tripel! Email eastbaybeer@gmail.com to RSVP. $15.”

July 11

Beer Dinner with Craftsman Brewing
Monk’s Kettle, 3141 16th St., San Francisco, CA. (Map)

Owner and Brewer Mark Jig will be on hand to answer any questions about his Pasadena brewery. For more info go to the Monk’s Kettle website.

Beer Tasting – Double Trouble (IPA/Stouts)
6:00 pm – 8:00pm, Wine Affairs, 1435 The Alameda, San Jose. (Map)

“$10pp, Beer Club free.”

July 12

Brewery Night: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
6:00 pm, Toad in the Hole, 116 5th St., Santa Rosa. (Map)

July 13

Meet The Brewer: Christian Kazakoff from Iron Springs
6:00 pm, Beer Revolution, 464 3rd Street, Oakland. (Map)

July 14

Utopias Pouring
5:00 pm, City Beer Store, 1168 Folsom St Suite 101, San Francisco. (Map)

“Taste the elusive Sam Adams Utopias from 2007 and 2011.

Almanac Pop Up
6:00 pm, Shotwell’s, 3349 20th St., San Francisco. (Map)

Draft release party for their Summer 2010 release along with a limited sour barrel version while supplies last. Shotwell’s will also be hosting Wise Sons Deli, Kitchen SideCar, and Nosh This who will serve up delectable food pairings.

Deschutes Black butte XXIII Release Party
6:00 pm, Petaluma Taps, 205 Kentucky St., Petaluma. (Map)

Brewery Night: Drake’s Brewing
6:00 pm, Amsterdam Cafe, 937 Geary St., San Francisco. (Map)

July 16

California Beer Festival – Santa Cruz
12:30 pm – 5:00 pm, Aptos Village Park, Santa Cruz. (Map)

“The California Beer Festival (CBF) is coming to Santa Cruz County! With over 60 craft brews on tap, four live bands, mouth watering food and bocce ball. CBF will be the event of the year for any beer enthusiast! CBF’s main goal is to shine a light on the craft beer movement and celebrate great beer!

For one low price, you will receive a souvenir tasting cup to sample some of the best craft beers from around the state, play bocce ball and listen to amazing music. This event will sell out, space is very limited. Purchase your tickets today to ensure a great time!

Proceeds will benefit the Gen Giammanco Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides financial support to student athletes to assist in their pursuit of both scholastic and athletic success in Santa Cruz County.”

July 19

Brewery Night: Thornbridge Brewing
6:00 pm, Toad in the Hole, 116 5th St., Santa Rosa. (Map)

July 20

Brewmaster’s Dinner at Social Kitchen
Social Kitchen & Brewery, 1326 Ninth Ave., San Francisco. (Map)

“Social Kitchen & Brewery celebrates the anniversary of its Brewmaster’s Dinner Series with a meal prepared by Guest Chef Tyler Morrish, of Osteria Coppa. The “Hot Summer Sun” dinner, the twelfth beer dinner in SKB’s monthly Brewmaster’s Dinner Series, takes place on Wednesday, July 20, 2011.

The meal will be SKB’s twelfth multi-course food-and-beer-pairing dinner. Morrish is a Sous Chef at Osteria Coppa, the acclaimed Italian restaurant in San Mateo. To give fog-weary San Franciscans a taste of the bright, clean flavors of summer, the theme of Brewmaster’s Dinner XII is “Hot Summer Sun,” pairing Morrish’s fresh, local, market ingredients and with Higgins’s craft beer.

The menu will include:
• wild arugula, pluots, toasted hazelnuts, ricotta salata, Social Kölsch vinaigrette paired with L’Enfant Terrible, a Belgian-style table beer
• chilled white gazpacho, toasted barley, herb oil, dill flowers paired with Simon Saison, a Belgian-style farmhouse ale
• seared skin-on chicken breast or market ratatouille, marinated zucchini, hop-scented braised butter beans
paired with Easy IPA, an American-style ale
• lemongrass panna cotta, White Thai Affair sabayon, fresh stone fruit paired with White Thai Affair, a Belgian-style golden ale spiced with lemongrass and galangal

The Brewmaster’s Dinner Series embraces cuisine à la bière, the idea that beer has a place in the kitchen as well as at the table. While the July dinner takes place on the third Wednesday of the month, the dinners are typically held the second Wednesday of each month. They are always omnivore- and vegetarian-friendly, and each course is paired with a Social Kitchen & Brewery beer. The dinner price is $40, which includes the beer pairings. Reservations can be made by calling 415-681-0330 after 4 PM.”

Brewery Night: Dogfish Head
6:00 pm, Beer Revolution, 464 3rd Street, Oakland. (Map)

SF Brewer’s Guild Meet the Brewers
6:00 pm – 9:00 pm, Pi Bar, 1432 Valencia St., San Francisco. (Map)

“It’s always nice to put faces to names, especially those that craft the beer you drink. Raise a pint or two with local artisan brewers and learn more about San Francisco craft beer.”

July 21

Local Brewing Kickstarter & Brewer’s Night
6:00 pm, Petaluma Taps, 205 Kentucky St., Petaluma. (Map)

July 23

Blues & Brews Festival 2011
12:00 pm – 6:00 pm, Pleasant Hill Park, 147 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill. (Map)

“Enjoy a day of live blues music and draft brew tasting. Live performances by The Tommy Castro Band, and others (details to follow). Co-sponsored by Pleasant Hill Recreation & Park District and the Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce.” $40

July 26

Tuesday Night Showdown
6:00 pm, Toad in the Hole, 116 5th St., Santa Rosa. (Map)

“Every last Tuesday of the Month, Toad will introduce a new showdown pitting two beers against each other. Battle out between styles, countries, or whatever happens to pique our interest.”

July 30

A’s RateBeer.com Luxury Suite
4:05 pm, McAfee Coliseum, Oakland. (Map)

“If you love baseball and beer, there is only one event you need to attend this summer. Join us in the RateBeer.com Luxury Suite on Saturday, July, 30th for the premier beer and baseball event of the year. Start the day by attending the Oakland A’s 15th Annual Beerfest in the Eastside Club. Follow up with a fully catered luxury suite along the first base line to watch the A’s take on former MVP’s Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and the Minnesota Twins. Game time is at 6:05 but gates open at 4:05 for the Beerfest and batting practice.

With you ticket you have access to the following treats and luxuries:

Commemorative A’s Beerfest glass and 3 tokens.
Ticket for entry to the RateBeer.com Luxury Suite
Fully catered suite: hot dogs, nacho bar, popcorn, peanuts, artichoke dip and sodas
Select beer from some of the leading and most sought after breweries in the country.
Enjoy the game with beer and baseball lover like yourself.

Breweries that will be represented in the suite include:
Anchor Brewing
Block 15
Cigar City Brewing
Drake’s Brewing
Epic Brewing*
Firehouse Grill & Brewery
Hill Farmstead*
Stillwater Artisan Ales*
Stone Brewing
And more

*Named to RateBeer’s “Top New Brewers In The World 2011” list
Tickets are $150 per person and extremely limited, so get yours today before they are gone. For tickets contact Mario Rubio at Mario -at- brewedforthought -dot- com.”

July 31

Firestone Walker Firkin & BBQ
12:00 pm, Beer Revolution, 464 3rd Street, Oakland. (Map)

Devil’s Canyon Announces Distribution Agreement & Bottling Plans

After self-distributing their beer for nearly 10 years, Devil’s Canyon Brewing has announced a distribution agreement with Matagrano Inc. that will put their beer on more taps throughout San Mateo and San Francisco counties. The following press release also declares their intention to begin bottling in July.

Belmont, CA. — June 29, 2011 — San Francisco Peninsula-based Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company takes great pride in announcing an agreement with Matagrano Inc. for distribution of their products in San Mateo and San Francisco counties. Until today, Devil’s Canyon has self-distributed their award-winning craft beer and root beer daily throughout San Mateo county from the brewery’s facility in Belmont.

The Brewery’s name is derived from the original Spanish designation for the City of Belmont – “la Canada del Diablo” or Devil’s Canyon, and as they approach their 10th year of operation, demand for their locally made products is soaring. Sales of their flagship brands such as Full Boar Scotch Ale (so named for the tusked inhabitants of the county’s many parks) and Silicon Blonde Ale (a nod to Silicone Valley entrepreneurs past and present) continue to see steady growth even with challenges of the current economy.

Word of the brewery’s high-quality products and top-notch customer service spread throughout the peninsula through a combination of sales efforts, social networking conversations and good old fashion face-to-face “taste-testing.” More recently, chefs, bartenders and owners of various upscale restaurants and pubs in San Francisco started to take notice.

When Matagrano Inc. contacted the brewery, the synergy between the two local, family owned companies was immediately recognized. The Matagrano family has been in the distribution business since before prohibition and survived this country’s dry years, reestablishing themselves in the beer industry as soon as the 18th amendment was repealed. They continue to run an independent, family owned business with third and fourth generation members still at the wheel.

The combination of a family owned distributorship with a fleet of vehicles and in-depth knowledge of the San Francisco craft beer landscape, along with Devil’s Canyon’s employee owned facility and civic-centric philosophy creates a powerful engine for economic growth in the local community.

“We spent 10 years building up successful local brands and getting them to our amazing, growing fan base,” stated VP of Sales and Marketing, Daniel Curran. “Having Matagrano assume distribution of our products makes sense, and with summer here, the timing couldn’t be more perfect.” He lauded Matagrano’s caliber of employees and their focus on customer service, adding, “Matagrano is a company with integrity and foresight. This is a huge win for the craft beer community as a whole.”

Curran added, “Matagrano’s distribution of Devil’s Canyon products in San Mateo and San Francisco counties is a welcomed extension of our brands as it affords a whole new segment of the city and the peninsula an opportunity to enjoy some of the best craft beer and root beer the Bay Area has to offer.”

Even with so many exciting changes ahead, both companies still take giving back to local communities very seriously. Each year Matagrano sponsors over 40 street fairs, church festivals, and various other charitable community events in San Francisco and San Mateo counties. Devil’s Canyon gives back to local schools, charities and noble causes through its “Cheers! for Charity” program.

With Matagrano meeting the delivery demands for craft beer enthusiasts in San Mateo and San Francisco counties, Devil’s Canyon will continue to self-distribute in the South Bay from Palo Alto to San Jose and everywhere in between. They also plan to begin bottling some of their most requested styles as soon as July.

Beer or Baby

This month’s edition of Homebrood is dedicated to City Beer Store’s new mascot. Welcome to the world Olivia. Congratulations Beth and Craig!

Click on image to view full size.

Drake’s Brewing Set To Open Barrel House

Drake’s Brewing has been in a constant state of construction over the last few months. Like most breweries, it’s a symptom of increased demand. They’ve been shuffling equipment, digging trenches, making room for 60 barrel fermenters, a brew kettle, and barring any unforeseen hiccups, will be opening their new Barrel House and Tap Room on June 24th.

“I guess you could call it community outreach,” said a laughing Gabrielle Chan, who left a career in the tech world to join Drake’s as manager of the new space. She explained “the old tasting room wasn’t adequately staffed and First Friday visitors wanted the event to happen on a more regular basis. The owners are obviously very passionate about the beer and wanted to make it more accessible to people.”

Gabrielle Chan, Barrel House Manager

The Barrel House sits inside the same dusty blue warehouse where visitors found the old tasting bar and cooler. All of that is gone. Now you’ll find church pews, distressed chairs, tables and a long bar topped with a slab of honey colored Douglas fir that was milled on-site. The tree fell at the home of Drake’s owner John Martin.

Behind the bar twenty-one taps have been drilled into the wall of a new cooler room. Chan said, “There’s going to be a lot of different beers coming through along with house-made sodas. We’re also working on getting the barrel aged beers organized.” Capacity inside is set at forty-nine, but a patio will also be available outside with tables and umbrellas for guests to enjoy East Bay sun or cool breezes.

Around the corner from the bar you’ll still be able to grab six-packs or bombers to go, and if you get hungry, a book of menus will be available for guests to order take out. Chan is also working on rallying a bunch of food trucks to stop by on occasion.

As for operating hours, Chan stated, “we’ll be open Wednesday through Sunday. We’re playing around with Wednesday right now because it’s kind of an unknown with people getting off work, but definitely Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from either Noon or 1:00pm till 8:30pm. Sunday we’ll be open from 1:00 to 6:00pm. We’ll also be available for private events on Monday and Tuesday.”

Keep your eyes peeled on Drake’s twitter feed and blog for official word of the grand opening. The Barrel House will be a great addition to the East Bay beer scene.