Amid the burgeoning micro-brewing community of Bay Area California, two men stepped into a former Chrysler Dodge factory. These men were Roger Lind, the founder of Drake’s Brewery, and the other was John Martin, Roger’s friend and former boss at Triple Rock Brewpub in Berkeley. Lind was a brewer at Triple Rock, one of the first brewpubs in America. He proved himself an excellent brewer, and chose to build his brewery inside the factory building, located in the heart of industrial San Leandro. He decided to brew draft-only English-style ales.
Lind constructed a 15 Barrel brewing system using repurposed dairy steel and several “Grundy” tanks imported from England during the 1980s. The gravity fed brewing system was hand made, and it served not only as the brewing system, but as a symbol of hard work and adaptability. A bit of a privateer himself, Lind decided to name his “Lind Brewing Company” beers after the English privateer Sir Francis Drake.
On the side of the brewhouse wall Lind spray-painted the word “Brew” in bold blue letters. The simple word was a daily mantra, re-affirming the purpose of Lind’s endeavor amid the pioneering 1980s. Twenty-eight years later, “Brew” remains on the brewhouse wall. It continues to serve the same purpose, reminding staff, that at the heart of everything Drake’s does, we will always “Brew.”
Since 1989, Drake’s has earned its reputation as a home for excellent brewers and beer. Lind departed San Leandro in 1998, but left his brewery in the hands of men and women who would earn countless medals at Great American Beer Fest, the World Beer Cup, the California State Fair, and many others.
In 2008, the life of the brewery came full circle when John Martin and his business partner Roy Kirkorian took over the brewery. Since then the brewery’s focus has evolved. Drake’s mainly produces West Coast style ales using an abundance of high quality hops, malt, and a neutral California Ale yeast strain. The brewery’s production has also expanded. Drake’s beer is distributed throughout California and has become a staple in the state’s brewing community.
In 2011, Drake’s Barrel House opened at the San Leandro brewery to serve as the tasting room and retail home of the company. Hundreds of wine and spirit barrels adorn the walls. Drake’s core, limited, experimental, and barrel-aged beers can be found here, fresh on tap, in addition to food from the Brew! Kitchen.
Four years later In 2015, Drake’s opened the Dealership in Downtown Oakland, inside the shell of a former Dodge Dealership and repair shop. The beer garden and full service restaurant was built largely of repurposed wood and steel from the existing structure. In a short time, the Dealership has become renowned for its excellent food menu, featuring locally sourced, farm fresh, and seasonal ingredients.