Best Local Brew: Seeking perfection in a bottle

Drake's IPA

For casual drinkers and professional critics alike, picking the best local beer is not an easy task — the East Bay overfloweth with quality craft breweries whose beers have been recognized internationally. From large-scale Pyramid to all-organic Bison, our breweries leave local aficionados little reason to look elsewhere. The small, family-owned Drake's Brewing Company in San Leandro is more off the beaten path than most, and its bottles are perhaps less ubiquitous, but that only heightens its appeal. Year-round, Drake's produces a Hefeweizen, an Amber Ale, a Blonde Ale, and the cream of its crop, the IPA. It's plenty hoppy, but not overly bitter; toasted malts are employed generously to lend flavors of caramel and vanilla. Its 7 percent alcohol content doesn't hurt the experience either. An unusual shrinkwrap label touts the brew's gold medal for American-Style IPA at the 2002 Great American Beer Festival. Drake's IPA also scored a bronze in the same category at the 2004 Brewers World Beer Cup.
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