Drake's Brewing Co.
from United States (California)
27th highest rated brewery (of 635)
Highest RatedExpedition Ale (89 / 100) Average score76 / 100 (Excellent)
Lowest RatedWar Pigeon Double IPA (63 / 100) Number Tried23
War Pigeon Double IPA
Reviewed by Jez on 19.02.18 in bottle
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)
22oz brown bomber purchased from BevMo in Menlo Park, CA. Bottling date of November 2017, so about 3 months old.

Pours a pleasant yellow-gold colour, with some very mild haze in the body. Head forms a gauzy, bright white cap, before settling out to a netted film. Lacing is good, forming in long, snaking streaks. Carbonation is languid. Looks good, all up.

Nose is pretty decent, without being spectacular. There's some reasonably pleasant orange citrus characters, with a hint of grassiness and dried marjoram. It has a slight character like wet lucerne hay as well, which is less pleasant. It's entirely possible it's been poorly stored, because I can't imagine this is what they were totally going for—but there's nice things in there even so.

Taste is basically a complete match of the aroma. It has a flat, herbal quality to the hops, and a neutral malt presence which helps cushion it at least. But the palate is also quite grassy, with a character like oregano or fennel on the back when it gets a bit of that bitterness.

It might be one of those beers that really needs to be drunk astonishingly fresh to really live up to its potential. But I'd expect a beer to last at least 3 months in the bottle. And right now, this is tasting kind of mediocre.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Drake's Jolly Rodger Imperial Coffee Porter 2016
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 11.12.17 in bottle
Overall:
80 / 100
(Excellent)
Pours a dark brown colour, glint up to the edge. Head is beige, quite dark really verging on umber, with a good half a finger retaining. Lacing is curtains of foam, looks awesome lace-wise and pretty damn good otherwise.

Smell is pungent as fuck. Huge chipotle kind of aroma; spice but also just the dry dustiness of desiccated chilli husks. Some caramel and cocoa notes, but predominantly vegetative and spicy. Really weird and slightly oppressive but I'm curious.

Taste is better; more substantial and complex, yeah. Has nice chocolate base notes, with a rich fondanty sweetness underlying it. The top layer has a slight roasty spice but leans heavily on that spice character too. Touch of smoke, and some mild vegetative notes with a dry, slightly smouldery heat on the back that otherwise doesn't really factor in. It's a well-worked stout really, with the spice just providing punctuation and not interfering with the nice gooey chocolatey character that provides the bulk of the palate profile. Quite impressed.

Slight tickle on the front, velvety for the most part and a slight chilli heat tickle on the back. It's a journey; it's quite fascinating.

Yeah, I like this; I feel it's maybe a little one-note and doesn't extract all the strange flavours it could have, but it's impressively well balanced and approachable especially for what it is.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.5
Drake's Jolly Rodger Imperial Coffee Porter 2016
Reviewed by Jez on 07.10.17 in bottle
Overall:
88 / 100
(Superb)
22oz wax-capped brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Shared with Sam back in Sydney, once I managed to prise off the immensely annoying wax.

Pours a deep, thick, black-brown: very rich and thick. Head forms a firm cap of mocha that leaves specks of fine lace. Carbonation is also fine, forming in foaming clouds as the beer is tilted. Body is very weighty. Looks good.

Nose is immensely punchy with wild, fruity coffee. Lots of bitter dark chocolate and cherry beans, laced with dark fruit notes of dried cranberry and glace cherry. Coffee prevails though, with a long aromatic smokiness—a kind of sensual trail of dark roast, that's alluring and seductive.

Taste is wonderful—instead of the acrid bitterness that might have been there, it's silky and supple, with a lovely milk sweetness coming through. It makes the mid-palate creamy and mild—less obviously sweet, though, which let's the coffee notes express themselves on the back-palate. Here, they're beautifully restrained—they work so well with a hint of melted chocolate and a leavening vegetative character. Really quite superb.

Feel is slick and fine, with just a warming heat on the back.

Gosh, this is a luscious, luscious beer. This might be one of the best examples of coffee in beer I've tasted. It understands it so well—it knows when to pound the flavour, and it knows when to show restraint. All up, it's beautifully crafted and utterly delicious.
appearance: 4.25 | aroma: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | drinkability: 4.5
Drake's Black Robusto Porter
Reviewed by Jez on 16.11.13 in bottle
Overall:
75 / 100
(Very Good)
22oz bomber purchased from Whole Foods, Los Altos, CA. Shared with Sam and Rich in Sydney on my return.

Pours a deep, indeed robust, black-brown, with a faint hint of ruby-brown at the edges. Head forms fairly solidly at first, settling to a mess of chunky pancake bubbles across the top of the glass, fairly deep brown in hue. Body is solid, and it holds fine carbonation very well. Looks good.

Nose is very pleasant: toasty and dry with noticeable overtones of coffee, a little pepper and a suggestion of acidity. Slight salty characters are tempered by a lingering, almost ephemeral sweetness that gives a deep rye bread type of note when they combine. It's good stuff.

Taste is quite similar. Again, there's not a huge sweetness or body to it, and here the coffee characters are much more pronounced—but there's a filling quality to these two things together. Mild roasty grain on the back is very smooth, and the lingering coffee notes caress the back palate while providing a slight punctuation of pepper. Finish is long, but lacking bitterness, so it's never harsh. Very nice.

Feel is slightly light, but it's not too bad, and it probably aids the drinkability somewhat.

Overall, this is a pretty cracking drop of beer, plenty of character that stays pleasantly balanced and coherent. The flavours are good, but it's how they're placed together that makes it as approachable and drinkable as it is. Good stuff.

appearance: 4.25 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 4.0
Aroma Coma
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 20.09.13 in bottle
Overall:
66 / 100
(Solid)
Pours an orange colour. Clear, with a trickle of bead. Head is off-white, lovely and fluffy and meringue-like on top. Retains well. Very good.

Smells malty but tangy. Lots of kiwi, paw-paw and lychee. Lots of orange zest and mandarin as well. Light and refreshing.

Taste is quite sweet, with cake batter malt and some caramel. Some orange zest and mandarin on there that gets some bitter hoppiness towards the back. Largely malty, though. Some vanilla notes and it all ends quite citric but bitter. Bit of a sweet/bitter dichotomy rather than a nice transition/balance. Nice flavours overall though.

Smooth, but a bit lacking in texture, and body.

Nice drinkin' beer, there's obvious signs that it could have been amazing, though, and it remains just nice for me.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | drinkability: 3.75
Aroma Coma
Reviewed by Jez on 07.09.13 in bottle
Overall:
66 / 100
(Solid)
22oz bomber purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA. Shared with Sam and Rich in Sydney.

Pours a deep, clear golden colour, with a frothy head of yellow-tinged white. Big bubbles provide the froth meaning that as it settles, there's a big mess of honeycombed aeration on the top. Minimal lacing. Body looks reasonably solid, and holds fine streams of carbonation. Looks good.

Nose is good. Of course it's good. It was going to be good, but I'm surprised that it's just not bigger and better than that. It's a bright, generic citrus zesty aroma, grapefruit, some fresh herbal characters of basil. Pleasantly balanced at least: I just wanted it to punch me in the nose.

Taste is clean and bright, hoppy but with a restrained bitterness than gets lost a little in the body. More grapefruit, fruit skin, and a pithy, slightly herbal character towards the back. There's a savouriness to the malt which provides balance, but it's all a bit flat by the end.

Feel is good. Solid and smooth.

Yeah, it's a good beer. It's a solid IPA with some good flavours. But it really should have been better given its reputation. It just ended up being a little bit flat and generic: definitely good, and well crafted, but not something that got me really excited.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 3.75
Drake's Jolly Rodger American Barleywine 2012
Reviewed by Jez on 07.05.13 in bottle
Overall:
79 / 100
(Excellent)
22oz bomber purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA.

Pours a burnished amber hue, deep in colour, but perhaps only because it's a deep beer intrinsically. Body is full and satiny, holding carbonation well. Head forms a structural foamy crest, settling down to a substantial, but less structural film of off-white. Lacing is good, forming in flecked rings around the glass. Looks very good.

Lemony notes on the nose, extremely delicate, with a structure of filigreed herbal notes behind it. There's a pleasant malt character backing it up, but it stays dormant for a long while. As it warms, the malt comes a little more forward, along with the booze, which accentuates some of the other characters, but doesn't overpower. It's a very well-constructed and extremely pleasant aroma.

Taste is a little lighter than I expected, and certainly less broad on the palate, but it's exceptionally long, and it develops beautifully along its length. Initial leafy, earthy hop notes eventually fade, leaving sweet malty tones, toasted oatmeal, and a honeyed sweetness that lingers and dances with the oddly roasty tones that flare up towards the ending. Booze provides feeling: a kinaesthetic structure that guides the flavours without getting in the way.

Overall, this is good stuff. After a while, the lack of breadth on the palate means it feels a little sharp; this harms the drinkability slightly, but really, this is a beer that's meant to be savoured and sipped. The length on the palate is it's strength, and its delicacy is it's uniqueness. I've not had such a big bold beer that is so subtle and coy. It's fascinating stuff.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Alpha Session
Reviewed by Jez on 20.06.12 in bottle
Overall:
71 / 100
(Very Good)
Bomber purchased from Berkeley Bowl West in Berkeley, CA.

Pours an exceptionally clear yellow colour, with a forthy, large-bubbled head of white, that settles to an unassuming and relatively unappealing film. The body has a surprising weight to it given its exceptionally low ABV, and it's the only thing that makes me rate the appearance as other than extremely unappetising.

Ok, maybe the other thing is the aroma, which I snuck a sniff of beforehand anyway—it's wonderfully fresh, bright, fruity and hoppy, with the emphasis on the clean, crisp, bright West Coast resonance, along with a touch of something green, herbal and organic. It's perhaps only this which hints at its genesis in the English style. Many other things prove that this does not truly fulfill that style.

Taste is a lot weaker, but you probably expect that in a beer that is intentionally designed as a sessioner. Quite a clean, light, herbal hop fragrance through the centre, with some rosemary, pepper and leafiness, but with almost nothing underneath: perhaps just a moderated grain character that holds in in check, but doesn't really support the hop flavours. It's certainly sessionable, and far from unpleasant. Feel is smooth enough and suitable for what it is.

Pretty drinkable brew, with much to offer. This is not making a play for best beer in the world, but it sure is refreshing, clean, easy to drink and enjoyable. Very decent drop.

appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Expedition Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 02.01.12 in bottle
Overall:
71 / 100
(Very Good)
Pours a rude red ale colour, bit of cloud with dense pillow of marshmallowy head. Beige colour, nice ribbon of lace left behind and good retention. Looks very good; not quite excellent.

Smells very tangy and hoppy. Lots of citric notes, but hints of acetyldehyde and perry as well. Maybe some green pepper and a big wallop of pineapple. In fact it's totally pineapple. Yeah, big, massive pineapple. Not sure I like beer smelling that much like pineapple, but hey, let's go with it.

Taste is not bad, but still very fruity on the back. Starts with decent caramel and toffee malt but gets very tangy and fruity with hop oils and some alpha acidic notes. Hint of more pineapple that gets almost puckering but it's sweet, bitter, sour and hoppy as a nice blend. Not bad, really, quite refreshing even though it doesn't quite hit the mark. I think there's a goodly amount of hop bitterness there so it's fairly clean and drinkable. Bit weird, though.

Foamy texture, quite full and well-weighted though. Yeah, not bad.

Not sure I genuinely love it, but there's a weird, very refreshing quality to it. I might not be proud of it, but I really could drink it most of the night.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Drake's IPA
Reviewed by Jez on 15.10.11 in bottle
Overall:
81 / 100
(Exceptional)
Purchased in a rare single 12oz bottle from Bevmo in Sunnyvale, CA.

Pours a deep burnished coppery golden colour with a frothy and thick head of beaten egg-white. Lacing is thick and raucous. Body looks quite light and a little flat, but otherwise, it's a great looking beer.

Nose is fresh, bright and comfortable, with a really big sweet tropical fruit and mellow citrus character caressing the olfactory passages. Smooth and mellow and really nicely integrated, it's west coast hops at their most chillaxed and well-balanced. Lovely.

Taste is a little simpler, with a light body guiding the straight vector of hops through the centre of the palate until they dip and dance with the malt into a carob and pine-needle fresh finish. Very clean and bright on the palate, with a remarkably light and drinkable character for the ABV.

Lovely brew, and a refreshingly sessionable IPA. I love breweries that do extreme, exciting beers, but it's almost better when a brewery puts together a characterful, but utterly sessionable and drinkable brew. Drake's have done that with this beer.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.5
Drake's Blonde Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 13.10.11 in bottle
Overall:
66 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a slightly hazy bright yellow colour, wioth a frothy and fizzling head of white, initially, that dissipates quickly, leaving only a ring of bubbly mess around the edge of the glass. elatively fluid body, with a little weight behind it, and fine residual carbonation. Not bad.

Nose is crisp and slightly grainy, with a slightly green European hop character that reminds me of a Czech pilsener, as well as, truly a Kölsch. It's a bit mild and flat, but it's crisp and light as well. Not bad, again.

Taste is light with a mild fresh bitterness through the centre of the palate, and a crisp dry finish, giving off a little floury grain and a touch of light yeast. Feel is sparkling by the end, but surprisingly flat throughout the rest of the palate.

It's a very crisp, light and drinkable beer. No, it doesn't do anything extraordinary, but some days you just want a light, bright and quenching brew. This would be a cracker for such occasions.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Expedition Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 08.10.11 in bottle
Overall:
89 / 100
(Superb)
Ooh, yeah. I love it when a red ale pours a genuinely red colour. This is one of those, a brilliantly deep ruby hue, with a filmy but exceptionally fine head of creamy off-white. Lacing forms in rings and is pleasantly persistent. Body is heavy but fluid, leaving tiny bubbles of carbonation when swirled. Looks great.

Nose is fantastic. Wonderful blend of slightly dark, caramelised malt characters with a bright hop crispness that brings it into a wonderful melange—mixing hops and malt in a way that accentuates both, but also complements. Biting with slight resin, but subtle with biscuity depth. Lovely.

The taste is probably even better. Here the lightly grainy malt character comes through giving a basis on which are layered jammy, fruity hop characters, always tempered with a brisk bitterness to cut through on the finish. A tiny bit more body would help it a little, but this is a real nitpick. It's a lovely brew.

Exceptionally drinkable, and absolutely characterising what I love in an American Red Ale. It has the fresh, bright hoppiness, the mellow malt character, and blends the two superbly. I already regarded Drake's well, and yet this beer just made them shoot up even further in my opinion.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 5.0
Drake's Drakonic Imperial Stout
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 03.08.11 in bottle
Overall:
82 / 100
(Exceptional)
Pours a very dark colour, not really penetrable by light, with gorgeous ochre head, nice, thick and dense with lovely retention. Looks just about perfect.

Smell is coffee and cocoa. Lots of rich, roasty sweetness, touch of bitterness to it but pleasant, dark and chocolatey. Well-rounded, enjoyable dark beer smell.

Taste is lovely and dark; all the right notes from the start with dark chocolate, cocoa, black pepper with some nice spicy stout notes that are full of flavour. Nutmeg and a touch of coriander come through, balanced by nice smooth unsweetened chocolate notes towards the back. All very nice, toned, smooth and enjoyable.

A bit too much texture, with a bit of sharpness from the booze, just a bit hot towards the back. Otherwise it just glides through the mouth.

Lovely, smooth and drinkable. A big beer that can be appreciated by all.
appearance: 5.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Drake's Hopocalypse
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 14.06.11 in bottle
Overall:
86 / 100
(Exceptional)
Pours an orange colour with decent haze, but fairly transparent. Head is off-white, and nice and fluffy with a whipped character to it. Lace looks like eyebrow prints regularly placed around the glass, and it's all very pleasant.

Nose is very hoppy. Very hoppy indeed. Lots of citrus, lemon zest with pineapple and sherbet - plus a healthy malt base that's very nutty in character. Pine nuts and wood - mildly sour, spicy with pepper as well. Really, really pleasant aroma.

Taste is quite IPA-esque (der) and pleasant. Nice and malty upfront, nutty with almons, pecans and caramel. Hops take over midway, nice and bitter with citric notes and nice floral characters as well. Bitterness is resinous but has a very nice floral lift to it to get it out of the dank. Nutty and fruity, citric and floral. It's ideal IPA territory here - balance is pretty much on the money, bitterness high but not overwhelming.

Full, bit of texture, bit of bite. Quite drying but never goes overboard. Just noticeable on every front.

Yeah, great IPA. Oomph - check. Flavour - check. Bitterness - check. Balance - check check.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Drake's Hopocalypse
Reviewed by Jez on 09.06.11 in bottle
Overall:
88 / 100
(Superb)
Purchased in California, but brought back to Australia to drink with @LaitueGonflable, who I hope appreciates all the great beer I bring back from America for him.

Pours a lovely, and very classic orange-copper colour, with a full and frothy head of off-white that leaves spectacularly anarchic lacing. Oh, it's gorgeous. Looks truly wonderful, just like an IPA should. Retention in the head, wonderful lace, wonderful body, wonderful colour. Clearly, you don't get much better.

Nose is crisp, clear and citric, with very fresh and very classic hoppy aromas. Lovely characters of sharp orange, lemon zest and crushed greenery. It's a very lovely IPA aroma. Not unique, but so on style. You'd be hard pressed to find better.

Taste is also excellent. Genuinely good bitter characters, sharp citric flavours, with a balanced grain character that just lends a little nutty fragrance. Gorgeous. It's such a beautifully balanced and well-made American IPA. Ticks all the boxes.

A lovely brew. It doesn't do anything outside the box, but it absolutely fills the box completely with all the right characters. This is a phenomenally good IPA, and an absolutely stellar example of the style. Almost the pinnacle.

appearance: 5.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.5
Drake's Denogginizer
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 06.12.10 in bottle
Overall:
81 / 100
(Exceptional)
Pours a clear burnt-orange colour with small beige crown of head. Sinks to more of a film with some nice trails of lacing behind. Slow bead, very minimal, through the clear body. It's one of my favourite beer colours, but overall not hugely impressive.

Smells mega-malty and almost barleywine-esque. Huge complex sweetness with rich caramel toffee and orange peel and a good healthy dose of piney hops. Slight grassiness at the back as well. I love this kind of smell, and yet it strikes me almost as a bit pedestrian, like anyone could just bombard a high attenuating yeast with hops and malt and create this aroma.

Taste is very malty as well, huge amounts of rich toffee and marzipan nuttiness. Quite earthy, really, with a gritty bitterness that emerges late-mid and gives quite a spicy character, resiny with notes of nitrate-rich soil and tobacco leaves, but is complemented really quite well by the continued sweetness, which manages to taste fresh and fairly fruity. A touch of marmalade and of course a big alcohol heat that glides down the throat like liquid fire. Slight rum touch to this particular alcohol warmth, and it leaves you with a slight vegetative aftertaste. Very tasty. Perhaps not as complex a hoppiness as I would like, but it's ultimately just a big hearty beer that you want to cuddle.

Mouthfeel is a bit rough actually, doesn't have the viscosity I expected. But goes down smoothly, the harsh notes are mostly up front.

It's delicious, it's nutritious, it's practically malicious. More, please.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.5
Drake's Denogginizer
Reviewed by Jez on 02.12.10 in bottle
Overall:
79 / 100
(Excellent)

Recommended and requested by a mate in Sydney, I purchased two bottles in California and dragged them back to Australia. One for him, and one to crack open with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.

Pours very thick and heavy amber hue. Quite dark, for an IPA, but not really quite verging into red ale territory. Head is initially full, if rudimentary. It does dissipate rather quickly, no doubt collapsing under its own weight. It's a very heavy brew, no doubt. Minimal lacing, but again, it's all about the body and weight to the appearance. That's no bad thing.

Nose is a huge face-punch of West Coast American hops. Big characters of pungent citrus, cut grass and and oddly rich yeast character on the back. Malt is also big, but it's certainly not the main event. It knows its job - to cushion the bombardment of hoppy goodness. And goodness it is. So classically American, so classically IPA. And certainly big enough to be considered a double. Lovely.

Taste is very nicely done as well. Seeing as though IPA is such a ubiquitous style nowadays, it's often much easier to find fault than to find positives. This is a very well-balanced brew, mixing the nutty malt backbone with the fresh hop bitterness, that never quite goes to extremity, but just stays nicely in tandem with the sweetness. It has a delicious heaviness to it too, something to remind you this is more than your regular run-of-the-mill IPA. Feel is good is a result.

I've had more extreme IPAs, heavier ones, more hoppy ones, more alcoholic ones; but this is probably the most well balanced Double IPA I've had. It does a great job of upping the ante in the flavour stakes, but still manages to keep every part together.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.0