Most businesses are proud of the product they make, but what sets one apart is not only keeping in mind the quality of the actual product but the customers’ feelings when they have it. If a consumer loves a product and keeps coming back—it probably makes them feel good. Even if we can’t quite define it, Drekker may have cracked the code on what keeps people coming back, and a large part of that is credited to their ever-innovative and always-rotating collection of brews.
We’re all familiar with the “weirdness”—their word!—of Drekker Brewing Company, and we love it—but why is that? The Drekker team likes to describe their company as a manufacturer of good times, which just might be the answer.
For years, Drekker Brewing Company has been a step ahead of the curve when it comes to unique brewing styles, something Co-Founder and President Mark Bjornstad said was a core value of the company from the start.
“About a year or two into the company, we were a bit more mature about what we are as a business, we had a better insight into what it means to be operating a brewery, and that gave us some confidence to know that making five flagship beers and calling it a day was never going to be the right thing for us,” Mark said. “We had a lot of growth and potential, and when we looked at all of the different directions we could go and what each would turn us into, we decided that really there’s only one type of brewery that we want it to be—and that’s where we are today.”
At the time, the norm for most breweries—not only in the
area but around the nation—was to have more traditional or approachable brews on tap and a few seasonal “experimental” brews. Drekker made the decision early on to counter that model and have their tap list consist of mostly experimental brews, with a few approachable beers available for those who want that.
Stepping fully into this model was out of the ordinary, and could have been detrimental to the business’s success Mark admits, but ultimately it was the step needed to create what we know as a very successful Drekker today. And, a gigantic plus for both the Drekker team and Drekker drinkers—it’s fun to create new and unique brews.
“The fun part is that when we focus on the science, experimentation, and inspiration, we’re not aiming to go anywhere, we just go wherever that part takes us, and that’s a really fun way to do it,” Mark said. “We don’t necessarily define what our endpoint is, we take an idea, a thought or feeling, or even, on the science side, [we] learn a new process or [try] an ingredient, and then all of a sudden, once we can crack that code, this whole new realm of possibilities presents itself. And then we’re doing stuff that we never would have dreamed of before.”
In order to have the freedom to keep creating and experimenting, Drekker’s menu is often rotating new flavors and styles in and out. And at first glance, you might assume this would disrupt their regulars—but on the contrary, they love it.
“[Customers] love always having something new, something changing, something different to try. That keeps them engaged, excited, and wanting to come back,” Mark said. “And on the other side, it keeps us engaged, excited, and passionate about what we do. So, we’re constantly innovating, we have a new project that challenges us and that we have to figure out, and that’s the way we like to do it. That’s not for everyone…That’s an area that also just happens to line up with customers.”
Yet another chance that Drekker took and differentiated themselves from the norm, and again, found success in. And after years and years of experimenting, they’ve yet to run out of ideas… they still claim the world as their oyster!
By the way, have you tried the oysters at the Mangata Wine & Raw Bar, located at Brewhalla?
Any person who creates knows it’s nearly impossible to define a “creative process,” so Mark told us that Drekker’s brews start like any other project—with an idea.
The Drekker team might find inspiration from a certain dessert, a strawberry cheesecake for example—then they start by discussing how in the world they are going to add the structural ingredients of strawberry cheesecake to their brewing process. Or, maybe they just learn about a new way to ferment something, and so they’ve got to come up with a flavor combination that they want to try with this new brewing process, and then run that idea over with the Master Team of Brewers.
And possibly one of the most mind-blowing yet intriguing approaches to creating a new flavor—inspired by a vibe. Yep, Drekker creates feeling in a can.
Well, that’s the goal anyway.
“I remember we made an IPA that was specifically designed in the artwork and some of the feel of having a DJ in the taproom,” Mark said. “We wanted a beer and a brand, and this whole feel to match a really trippy, EDM synth-noir vibe—and we made a beer for it. You could just say, ‘I like the song.’ Then [ask] what the song makes you think of, what you’d want happening in the taproom, or where you’re hanging out.”
After playing 20 (thousand) Questions with the team and the idea has some structure, Drekker’s Master Team of Brewers takes a stab at how exactly this style of brew will be made.
Ideas are great, but bringing them to life is really the magic of Drekker—and they’re stocked with the mechanics to do it. There are a few pieces of specialty equipment inside Drekker Brewing that you won’t find anywhere else. Take a peek!
Typically used to separate fluids with different densities (liquids from solids, cream from milk for example) from each other, the machine is a rapidly rotating container that applies centrifugal force to its contents.
The Centrifuge allows Drekker to create brews that contain a high quantity of hops, like in their Hazy IPAs. If they brewed with the amount of hops that they do without using the Centrifuge, the brew would end up as more of a sludge than liquid. With the Centrifuge, the brewing team can control their liquid-solid outcome, which is more cost-efficient, but not necessarily what the Centrifuge was ordinarily used for.
Did you know?
You may have heard of hops before, but we’ll break it down for you. Hops are a flower that comes from the humulus lupulus plant. They are used as a battering, flavoring, and stability agent in beer and can produce floral, fruity, or citrus flavors and aromas.
Specialty Custom-Built Flavor Enhancer 6,000
This mouthful of a name (and quite intimidating in person) piece of equipment is used to create adjuncts at Drekker. After spending years trying to find the piece and people trying to fabricate it, they had this one custom-made.
This is the machine that the team would use to break down 400 pounds of granola so that it can be infused into an adjunct brew.
One of the newest equipment upgrades in Drekker’s Brewery is the Foeder. Sealed off in a new space between the taproom and Brewhalla, sits a room with giant barrels inside. In these barrels, several different types of beer are being fermented, each with a different culture of wild yeast and bacteria, and a crucial component of that is zero cross-contamination. Hence, the giant DO NOT ENTER sign outside the doors. With the Brewhalla expansion, Drekker was able to add this contamination-free room for more experimental brews!
Drekker’s canning line equipment is very unique to their brewery and includes features that most canning lines don’t have. It uses technology similar to what Anheuser-Busch, Coors, Pepsi, and Coke use for their bottling and canning lines for unbelievable quality, consistency, and durability, but scaled down to Drekker’s assembly size.
They need these special features for the unique brews that they create. For example, their smoothie sours cannot be canned with traditional equipment because their makeup isn’t like the other beers that are more liquid
So, what are all the unique brewing styles that Drekker has created?
What started as a “fad IPA” has moved to one of the more dominant IPAs, and the IPA that Drekker has almost always solely created. Due to the hops used in IPAs, brewers can pull unique characteristics like juicy, fruity, tropical, and herbaceous flavors and it’s easier to put those flavors on display with Hazy IPAs. Drekker has a new Hazy IPA out every month and they bring back three or four due to their popularity.
“The reason why we love them is that you can make an infinite combination of hops in hazy IPAs,” Mark said.
Drekker brews Adjuncted Stouts for about 12-35 hours, creating thick, big mashes and complicated grains. Those stouts are sticky and sweet, almost like chocolate syrup, and then they are aged for at least 18 months in old whiskey, bourbon, or sherry barrels. After aging, they are blended together in whatever the crew deems best, and finally adjuncted with things like whole vanilla beans, tons of coconut, or graham crackers and peanut butter—really odd things to then create delicious dessert-like drinks out of it!
Using their own brewing process, they create delicious and sometimes strange flavor pairings for a frozen, sweet treat.
Drekker’s Fruited Sours are made up of crazy amounts of fruits and sometimes an equally crazy adjunct. These drinks are where Drekker’s “Adjunctologists” have fun. Some examples of unique adjuncts used in fruited sours include ones with coconut chips or granola as an adjunct, or even cream cheese to make cheesecake flavor.
A newer area of exploration for Drekker are their Eye Scream treats. Using a seltzer base, the crews makes their own 6% alcohol content soft serve ice cream and infuse it with crazy cool flavors.
Both have been an absolute hit for summertime—but don’t worry, they’re not exclusive to just the warmer months. They hope to keep both Eye Scream and Sloosh regular items you can get all year long.