I am happy to announce this is the first entry into the WBW Meet the Brewer Series!
It is truly a pleasure to meet and get to know the special men and women who create the magical beers I get to enjoy and share with friends.
But first, a quick story. I needed to find a graphic artist to help me with creating the WBW logo and other marketing materials. I didn't know anyone with those skills so I did the next best thing and went to Craigslist. I found an amazing woman named Allie and I love everything she does. Class act. Now the cool part is, in our initial conversation of me telling her about my new business, she proceeds to tell me her husband Travis works at Drake's Brewing Co. You know when you get a sign that you're on the right path? This was one of those moments for me.
But Travis doesn't just work at Drake's. He is the Barrel Program Manager!
So, it is my pleasure to introduce you to...(drum roll)...
Barrel Program Manager
Drake's Brewing Co., San Leandro, CA
The Set Up
The Barrel House is Drake’s on-site brewery taproom located in San Leandro. You can choose from at least 24 different beers on tap in the warehouse-style tasting room. This includes their regular styles as well as whatever happens to be on nitro and cask and a few of the barrel-aged (BA) beers.
The Specialty Beer Program was founded in 2007. Barrels are acquired from a variety of sources mostly local including whiskey distilleries and wineries. The beers are aged anywhere from 6 months to 2 years in the barrels which infuses the beer with the wine or spirit that was once in it. This process brings rich new flavors and aromas to the beers.
I asked Travis some questions about his experience in the beer industry. He was kind to answer and give us the opportunity to get to know him and learn more about his process.
What are your responsibilities as the Barrel Program Manager at Drake's Brewing Co.?
Making all of our delicious spirits barrel aged and wine barrel aged beers. We make a pretty wide range of beers, from Bourbon Imperial Stout to many different sour and fruited barrel aged beers. Compared to the brewery, the barrel aging program is small so we work on everything that has to do with producing and packaging barrel aged beers. On any given day we could be working on bottling, acquiring barrels from wineries, tasting beer, or upgrading equipment in the sour cellar.
How did you become interested in craft beer and what led you to where you are today?
I started as a homebrewer in San Diego where I grew to love beer and decided I wanted to get into the business. When I started at Drake's I was working on the bottling line, but got to help out in the barrel program on my off time since that was what I really wanted to do. I cut my teeth for a while until they trusted me enough to take over the program.
In your opinion, does “craft” have the same meaning it had a decade ago?
In some ways yes and no. I think craft brewing has come a long long way in the last decade, the beers styles are very different and the boundaries of the industry are continually being pushed. 10 years ago sour beers were nearly unheard of and would not be accepted by the normal beer consumer, but these days it’s a much different story. I think the spirit and concept of craft brewing has always stayed the same in that we are trying to make beers that are unique and tasty at the same time, and keep pushing the boundaries of how people perceive beer.