You’ve heard of farm-to-table, well welcome to farm-to-tap.
A new brewery and taproom opening in Ceres promises fresh craft beers made from largely locally grown ingredients, right down to the hops. Blaker Brewing is on the verge of opening a new brewery and taproom in south Ceres. Founder Tom Lucas, whose family has deep agricultural roots in the valley, started homebrewing in 2012. Since then it has gone from a hobby to a passion, which is reflected in the brewery’s slogan, “Cultivate your craft.”
Lucas and wife Shelly are running the fledgling brewery out of a built-from-the-ground-up facility in an industrial area on Montclaire Drive, off of Morgan Road. The dining area will have 16 Blaker beers on tap, and customers can look into the brewhouse with its gleaming stainless steel tanks while they drink. Blaker beers are made with many ingredients grown by the Lucas family and other local farmers.
“We really care about the ingredients, we use wheat and hops we grow and lactose from our cows,” Shelly Lucas said. “We want to be be as locally sourced as possible.”
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Beers range from Vanilla Bean Milk Stout to Measure X Brown Ale, Plowed Under IPA and Festa Lager. The brew has previously only been served at nonprofit events, as they were not licensed to sell it commercially. But that all changes this week when growler sales will start out of the brewery. Later this month they plan to start hosting private events in the taproom. Then a public grand opening is planned for January.
The taproom is partnering with area caterers and food trucks to always have food on site. The dining area with its long wooden tables seats about 50 inside and another 15 on an outdoor patio. Outside you’ll recognize the brewery instantly by the large grain silo out front. The inside has an industrial meets rural feel with large pull-up garage door as front wall, reclaimed wood on the walls. The tailgate of an old pickup has been mounted and serves as a bench on the back wall. And the taps? Well, they’re made out of old irrigation pipes and labeled with vintage cow tags, of course.
And that homage to ag isn’t just window dressing. Tom Lucas’ great grandfather started farming in Turlock in 1938 and today the family grows largely corn, wheat, hops and almonds. The brewery’s name also honors their history and references the first piece of land the Lucas family bought, which was on Blaker Road.
Lucas has kept things in the family with the brewery as well. He owns the venture with his father, Mike Lucas. Their son Tyler Lucas does marketing and brother-in -law Don Clark has also pitched in with the project.
“Family is one of the most important things for us,” Shelly Lucas said. “They’ve been super supportive and believe in the product.”
The family brought on head brewer Tyler Klaproth about two years ago. The brewery has a 15-barrel brewhouse as well as two 15-barrel and one 30-barrel fermenters and one 15-barrel and one 30-barrel brite. Those 30-barrel tanks hold roughly 930 gallons of beer. I know, drink up guys.
They’ve been brewing on site for about three weeks and plan to crank out one to two varieties a week. The freezer room is already filling up with kegs full of fresh brew. Folks can try the beer in draft pints and flights in the taproom once it opens. Or they can take it home in 32- or 64-ounce growlers by the end of the week. And, hopefully soon, you will also be able to purchase the beer in cans.
“We love the fact that there are more and more craft brewers coming up here from a ground level in the valley,” Tom Lucas said. “It’s important we produce good product and keep the momentum going.”