It’s been a fair amount of time since I got a chance to visit a brewery solely for a beer release party so when I got a postcard announcing the coming of the Hopocalypse at Drake’s Brewing I knew I had to taste the end of days.
The Barrel House, where the event was being held, is located in the loading docks of a mall in San Leandro, California and the posted start time was 10:00 am. Not knowing what to expect, I arrived at 10:30 to an astounding number of people waiting in line. Parking my car some distance away (in front of a nearby Wal-Mart) I hiked over with growler in hand and a sinking feeling in my stomach.
It was a slow moving snake of a line loaded with cheerful beer-obsessed people and by the time we cleared the outer entrance the line broke into two separate lines: a cash-only bottle line and the bar line (where bottles could be purchased and growlers filled). With a far shorter wait, and having a wallet remarkably flush with cash, I opted for the bottle line. I eventually reached the front, having spent roughly 45 minutes waiting and being tortured by seeing everyone enjoying the Hopocalypse around me! Purchasing six bombers (two of the rare Black Label) I decided to enjoy a glass of each beer on the hastily prepared outdoor cash-bar. The Hopocalypse itself had the thick, delicious piney taste/smell that I love about well-made Imperial IPAs and the Black Label I was less impressed with, although it might bear the distinction of being the first Triple IPA that I’ve ever tasted (and at 12.5% abv, the strongest).
The Barrel House itself is a fun place to spend an hour or two, despite the odd location, as they feature 24 taps of their various offerings from the ‘standards’, like their great 1500 Pale Ale, to their various limited releases. They also retail bottles and the requisite brewery swag and frequently have a food truck or two outside to balance out all the free-flowing beer. There’s also a number of picnic tables on the loading docks for enjoying a pint or three outside and I can imagine it gets busy when the weather warms. They don’t allow either children or dogs on the premises during regular hours and do a special “First Friday” of every month that feature special tasting events with all proceeds going to local schools and non-profits.
If you find yourself in the San Leandro area (the first time I went was after visiting the Oakland Zoo, which is fairly close), I’d highly recommend paying this Bay Area brewing stalwart a visit.