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(So yesterday’s visit really rocked at 21st-Amendment Pub and Brewery here in San Francisco. Thanks again to Rob Strasser, the General Manager, for arranging and organizing things on his end for Matt and I. It was a great visit!)

Two Pubs | Breweries on the Other Side of the Bay

Today Matt and I visited two pubs/breweries on the other side of the Bay….one ten miles south of Oakland (Drake’s in San Leandro, CA) and one about 10 miles north (Triple Rock in Berkley, CA).  Matt and I took off from Adelaide hostel at 1:30pm, to make our 2pm appointment with Jeff McClure, the community manager for Drake’s. It was an exceptionally beautiful day, with an abundance of sun, and we were feeling jazzed and energized to begin our first stop today at Drake’s. We were a few minutes late in our arrival, but not too late, and Jeff was waiting at the front of the building. Jeff is a way cool guy (again, there’s something about the craft beer culture having great people) who used to work as a secretary for a firm in town. In his off time, he would write emails and use social media to talk about his passion for beer. After awhile he got a message from Drake’s management that the owner wanted to meet him…..the rest is history and Jeffrey works for Drake’s as their Community Manager.

Jeff took us on a tour through the brewery, explaining their process for brewing beer. Hops is what they’re known for and the challenge is to balance the hops with the malt. Of course they follow certain basics for brewing, but then they also have some of their own uniqueness. For example, they also use a scaled down version of their beer-making process to deliver only 11 gallons of product. It is reserved for “experimentation” and if it is well-received, they will make a batch from their larger (normal) process. If it isn’t, they can discard it without it being a huge loss. By the way, they will get really creative with their “experimentation” batches….adding coffee, caramel, etc. Again, some become a serious hit and so they become part of the regular batches.

One of their flagship beers is their American Dry Hopped Pale Ale 1500. It’s a very hoppy beer, but made very drinkable by keeping the alcohol level down. Hops are blended into the fermenter just after fermentation has finished to create a huge aroma of pine and citrus. I found it to be freaking delicious as well! They also have an Amber Ale and some strong Ales. They even had one that had a good measure of coffee….and upon drinking it, I almost thought I *was* drinking coffee. I told Jeff that I would understand if some of the Staff might mistake it for their real coffee when starting their day. Jeff winked at me and said, yeah…..they make that mistake sometimes. 🙂

As we finished our samples, Matt and I thanked Jeff for the tour and of course, the beer. We said that we were on our way to Triple Rock pub/brewery, located about 20 minutes north of San Leandro in downtown Berkley. Jeff just happened to have a meeting there….”Can I catch a ride with you?” “Heck yeah”, we said. There wasn’t much room in Matt’s car, so Jeff scrunched himself in the passenger seat, and I did my best OBGYN pose in the back seat. On our way to Triple Rock!

Downtown Berkley….what a freaking good vibe–so pleasant, near the Cal Berkley campus (which adds to the scenery :), independent businesses and shops, which lends to the overall nice neighborhood feel of the place. Matt and I dug it.

Triple Rock Brewery and Alehouse was established by two brothers (John and Reid Martin) back in 1985. What distinguishes Triple Rock from *any other brewery/pub in the country* is that it’s one of the oldest in the States, BUT it has been under the same ownership (the Martins) the *entire* time. What a cool distinction! They both had a vision for having a great craft brewery combined with an old-style “tavern-like” dive bar atmosphere. They definitely met that goal. What an inviting, homey feel when we walked in—if you recall the TV show “Cheers” from years past, it had that kind of atmosphere. In fact, Jessie, the manager yelled out to everyone in the pub, “Hey everyone, this is Mike Addison from “Beer on a Roll”!

So Jessie, both a bike enthusiast and craft beer aficionado, introduced us to their pleasant Ale Abode of Triple Rock. We began with a tour in the back of the pub. They had a similar beer-making process as most breweries would, but what set them apart was the ability to connect the product from their fermenters in the brewery, straight to the bar. There are no kegs. So you’ll never hear—“Hey! This keg’s empty; bring another one!” Their signature beer is a West Coast IPA called IPAX Ale. It has a huge floral and citrus hop aroma. It’s also unfiltered and finished with whole flour simcoe hops. I had it with Triple Rock’s outstanding wings (I’m a wing man—talking about food, that is–and these wings rocked!). Matt and I spoke with the patrons and at one point, I got to speak with a guy at Drake’s who I did not meet while there earlier in the day. His name is Dave Rowe, the Operations Manager at Drake’s. Dave and I shared stories about our respective travels back in the day. Dave told me about, upon just having graduated from *high school*, he took off on his own to Europe with basically no money, but played guitar in Italy and other countries, and was able to make a decent living. He bought a car in Germany for $75 and took with him everywhere until one day they ran out of gas. 🙂

After visiting Triple Rock, Matt caught up with a friend in Berkley while I biked it over to the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), put my bike on the metro and went back to San Francisco. It was about 9:30pm when I arrived back to Adelaide Hostel. I pretty much just hit the sack. 🙂