Jolly Rodger 2014 Is Coming with a Jolt from Blue Bottle Coffee

JollyRodger2014_8Drake’s and Blue Bottle Coffee are joining forces for Drake’s next seasonal Jolly Rodger 2014, an Imperial Coffee Stout due to release November 1.

As our fans know, each November, we craft a new beer for our longest running seasonal brew Jolly Rodger, and this year the brewers found inspiration from the other bold beverage that daily occupies their glasses, Blue Bottle coffee.

As many local fans may remember, Drake’s previously collaborated with Blue Bottle Coffee’s artisan roasters in Oakland, CA in May of 2013 with a small draft only batch of imperial stout brewed with a hefty dose of Blue Bottle Giant Steps coffee added. For those among the lucky ones who savored that brew, a reprise was a dearest hope, as the memories of its smooth roasted, chocolaty, and mellow fruity tones have been haunting dreams on a monthly basis ever since. We agreed and almost immediately hatched plans with Blue Bottle to collaborate again, but this time, like any good sequel, we wanted to go bigger.


Drake’s brewmaster John Gillooly came up with the idea to make the Blue Bottle Collaboration 2.0 into Jolly Rodger as he was reviewing his hop contracts going into 2014. There’s always a squeeze on hops (apparently this whole “beer” thing is really taking off), so a beer that relies on coffee to make its presence known would have the added bonus of relieving pressure on our always-delicate supply of hops, and a Blue Bottle Imperial Coffee stout seemed just the kind of beer bold enough for the venture, especially considering how well version 1.0 was received.


To take the collaboration to the next level would take more than just a few hundred pounds of coffee. Drake’s brewers first met with Blue Bottle roasters and decided the mild acidity and fruit forward tones of an African variety would be perfect to blend with rich chocolaty and roast malts. From there, the Blue Bottle team got to work gathering options, finally narrowing the contenders to two coffees. Samples of each made it to Drake’s where the brewers infused two growlers of Black Robusto porter for a blind taste test with all staff on hand to weigh in.

When all was done, Drake’s brewers chose Kenyon Kangunu coffee roasted just slightly deeper by Blue Bottle roasters to meld into the beer. From the taste tests, this coffee adds tantalizing layers of caramelized stone fruit, black currant, light tobacco, and caramel to the rich malt flavors of the beer.

IMG_7206Jolly Rodger 2014 will make its rounds in 22oz bottles and draft throughout Drake’s distribution footprint in California and Reno starting November 1 with an official release at Drake’s Barrel House in San Leandro. At the release, local fans can expect plenty of special extras alongside Jolly 2014 including specialty casks of the beer, the re-release of Jolly Rodger’s 2013 sister brew Abdominally Jolly Imperial White IPA with New Zealand hops, and collaboration Jolly swag designed by Oaklandish. More details on that event will be coming on Facebook, Twitter and our blog.

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