Homebrewing Unites Drake’s & Bay Area Mashers

April 11, 2018

Left to right: Devonne Buckingham, Theo Rohr, Arslan Mesihovic, Jason Davis & Malachi Vanderpuye

If you ask a professional brewer how they learned their craft, you’ll often hear that it started with homebrewing. A curiosity can quickly turn into a passion, and homebrewing communities take shape, fostering shared knowledge, experimentation, and quality control. Many of Drake’s brewers walked this path, and even after making a jump to the big leagues, stay connected and support their homebrewing community.

A few weeks ago Drake’s had the pleasure of hosting three award-winning homebrewers. They’re members of the Bay Area Mashers (BAM) homebrew club, and spent the day brewing a beer called Nine Hostages with our team. It’s now on tap at the Barrel House and Dealership. The beer won Best in Show at the World Cup of Beer, a premiere homebrewing competition run by BAM. Making the winning beer in partnership with a local brewery was one of the awards, and Drake’s is honored to play a role.

The winning team, composed of Jason Davis, Arslan Mesihovic, and Theo Rohr, have been homebrewing together for several years, and have a wide range of experience. Jason picked up his first set of brewing equipment in 2008, and later became a BJCP National beer judge in 2014. Arslan started a nanobrewery in Bosnia called Oldbridž, which was voted the best in the country by Ratebeer. While Theo joined the pair several years ago during a club meeting with a passion for IPAs.

According to Jason Davis, “Nine Hostages was named after the great Celtic king, Niall of the Nine Hostages. The recipe is an Irish Foreign Export/Extra Stout. I always name my Irish recipes with an Irish theme.” Nine hostages finished at 6.6% alcohol by volume and is wonderfully balanced with subtle notes of coffee, chocolate, and roasted malt flavors. 

Several Drake’s employees started out homebrewing with the Bay Area Mashers, including Travis Camacho (Barrel Program Manager), Devonne Buckingham (Production Manager), and Hal McConnellogue (Cellar Manager). There’s also a long list of former Drake’s employees who are connected with BAM, including Doug Ashcroft (Salesman). He was a founding member of BAM in 1990, which formed not long after Drake’s started in 1989.

“The number of people who share a lineage with BAM and Drake's isn't surprising,” said Ashcroft. “BAM has set many on the road to opening their own breweries. Drake's recognizes that the passion to be part of the brewing community starts with homebrewing, and homebrewers make good employees! They build pallets, work the bottling line, wash kegs, and have worked their way up to brewing Drake's beers.”

If you’re interested in learning how to homebrew, start with the American Homebrewers Association. Their website is a great resource. You can also visit a homebrew store, to gather advice, equipment, and ingredients. Lastly, invite your friends or join a homebrewing club like BAM. Become a part of the brewing community.


  1. I love homebrewing strong beers, 19% and higher. I have won 3rd place at Alameda County fair but wish a local brewery brews a good strong beer like mine. I know Dog Fish Head does strong beers and I so hope Drake’s follow suits. Denoganizer is a good beer but I like a less hoppy beer with more malt tones.

    • Brian Stechschulte says:


      Awesome to hear you’re a homebrewer and hats off to you for making award-winning strong beers. They’re tricky to make. Drake’s has a few strong beers you can try when available. We make a imperial stout aged in rye whiskey barrels called The Void (17.5% – back next year), and Headzo, which is an American strong ale aged in whiskey barrels (18.5% – out this June).