We first met the Drake’s Brewing team during our trip to Oakland for last year’s Juicy Brews WestFest. We spent an afternoon hanging out with John Gillooly at Drake’s Dealership, drinking Drake’s Pils, and eating pizza. It was a great time, not only because the Pils was immensely crushable, but also because Gillooly is an extremely likable guy. He’s earnest and is great at telling stories, not to mention that he’s a talented brewer. In fact, just as the Brut IPA was about to gain nationwide popularity, Gillooly shared that the style had bubbled up in California and Drake’s had been one of the early brewers of the style, if not the first to introduce drinkers to a champagne-like IPA.
We were hesitant to try the beer but immediately impressed by the balance of flavor and the crisp cleanness. I have yet to have a better Brut IPA than that first one from Drake’s. This riff on the modern IPA came from a guy who had formerly sworn off brewing hazy IPAs. Once he saw the merit–and tried some well made juicy brews–he changed his tune and produced some quality takes on the New England IPA.
We’ll be returning to the Bay next week, this time to throw the second iteration of Juicy Brews WestFest at Drake’s Dealership. Some laughs over pizza has turned into one of our most exciting fests of 2019. To learn a little bit more of the enigmatic John Gillooly, I exchanged a few emails to put together a Q&A. Get your tickets for the festival and say hi to Gillooly on April 20th. And ask for some music recommendations, because he’s got plenty.
John A. Paradiso: Do you have any unusual habits?
John Gillooly: I’ll ferment or pickle anything that isn’t nailed down. Mostly vegetables–kimchi, sauerkraut, fermented hot sauce (and a lot more)–but I also have a sourdough starter my wife bakes with. And I’ve done kombucha.
JP: Tell me about a time you changed your viewpoint on a controversial issue.
JG: I was totally going to be one of those old brewers that never made a hazy IPA – I thought they looked terrible, and since I assumed it was yeast in suspension that made them look like that, I never wanted to taste them. But, we are a hop-forward brewery, so we decided to try our hand at them, and once I realized that it was a high-protein grist (rather than yeast) and hop polyphenols that gave them their look, I was pretty much all in. I really liked drinking our first effort and never looked back.
JP: What are your thoughts on the state of hazy IPAs in the industry?
JG: They aren’t going anywhere. I enjoy that the West Coast has done a bit of a variant on the style, as West Coast versions seem to have more bite than East Coast ones. That being said, I do think that breweries, even ones that focus on hazies, should keep their portfolio broad.
JP: What is your favorite beer to drink now?
JG: Temescal Pils.
JP: What’s the best idea you’ve ever had?
JG: To have kids young.
JP: Are you reading anything interesting?
JP: Describe your ideal taproom.
JG: Picture this: 12 taps, constantly rotating, and only local beers. There’d have to be a great jukebox and a limited menu. Basically, I just want to open Gooski’s.
JP: Give us a few songs to add to an all-star bottle share playlist.
JG: “Freaks of the Industry,” Digital Underground
“Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1,” The Flaming Lips
“Washing Machine Heart,” Mitski
“Dope Bitch,” Kamiyah
“Tell Me When to Go,” E40
“Thizzle Dance,” Mac Dre
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