Turlock’s Dust Bowl Brewing celebrates 10 years with parties, beer and expansion

While the real Dust Bowl lasted nine years, Turlock’s Dust Bowl Brewing Company celebrates its 10th year this weekend.

The craft beer company opened in 2009 with a small brewery in an industrial part of Turlock, and has since grown to two high-profile taprooms in the city with a third on the way in Monterey. The public is invited to celebrate Dust Bowl’s decade in business with a party Saturday, May 4, at its Brewery Taproom.

“I think it’s a real monumental milestone, especially considering the growth of the craft beer industry in general in California,” said Michelle Peterson, Dust Bowl’s marketing and public relations manager. “There are almost 1,000 breweries in the state, more than any state in the nation. But we continue to grow our distribution and have a third taproom coming in Monterey. We’re using several different strategies to grow our brand.”

The bash kicks off a series of events this month centered around the anniversary. They include all-day celebrations at both Turlock taprooms May 10, the actual anniversary date, and an anniversary dinner May 13 at its downtown site. The brewery has also released two special limited-run beers — Big IPA and Barrel Aged Blend.

“I wanted to brew two anniversary beers — one that must be enjoyed fresh, and one that could be aged,” said Dust Bowl brewmaster Don Oliver, who has been with the company since the start.

Dust Bowl is also using its 10th anniversary as an opportunity to refresh its branding, including its labels and logos. In January, it began distributing in Southern California, making it now available across the state as well as in parts of Nevada and Oklahoma.

Dust Bowl Brewing Cans.jpg
The new can and logo design for the Dust Bowl Brewing Company in Turlock, Calif. Dust Bowl Brewing Co.

Dust Bowl founder Brett Tate and Oliver brewed the company’s first beer on Mother’s Day of 2009. In 2010, Brett Honoré joined as partner and co-owner. The company’s flagship IPA remains Hops of Wrath, the first beer it produced. Now it churns out eight year-round varieties, not including the 24 specialty and seasonal beers it will put out this year.

Expect even more variety in the future as well, now that the company has installed its own in-house canning service. They’d already handled their own bottling, but previously relied on a mobile canning service.

Peterson said community support has been a crucial part of the company’s success.

“Dust Bowl is very thankful for the Central Valley and local communities,” she said. “There was not much of a craft beer culture when we started in 2009, and we really feel grateful for the reception we had from the local community and the greater Central Valley. It’s word of mouth and the positive experience people have had in its two taprooms.”

In its first decade, Dust Bowl has served more than 1.6 million patrons in the Turlock taprooms, Peterson said. Its downtown taproom on Main Street opened in 2011, and construction was completed on its 30,000-square-foot brewery and taproom on Fulkerth Road in 2016. The company now has 170 employees.

Dust Bowl Monterey 4
Dust Bowl Brewing in Turlock, Calif. on Fulkerth Road. Joan Barnett Lee

Plans continue to move forward on Dust Bowl’s new taproom in Monterey, steps from its famed Fisherman’s Wharf. Tate and Honoré said they picked the seaside city and site, a historic train depot built in 1874, because of its ties to John Steinbeck. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author wrote eloquently about the Dust Bowl migration to California in books like “The Grapes of Wrath” and “Cannery Row.” The new taproom is expected to open by late June.

Dust Bowl Brewing Company’s Anniversary Bash is 5-10 p.m. May 4 at Brewery Taproom Outdoor Beer Garden, 3000 Fulkerth; admission is free. The official anniversary day celebration will be all day May 10 at both the Main Street and Fulkerth Road taprooms; admission is free with beer and merchandise specials. The Anniversary Beer Dinner is May 13; doors open 5:30 p.m., 6 p.m. dinner at the downtown taproom; tickets are $75 and include a five-course dinner and beer pairings.

For more information, call 209-250-2044 or visit

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Marijke Rowland writes about new business, restaurant and retail developments. She has been with The Modesto Bee since 1997 covering a variety of topics including arts and entertainment. Her Business Beat column runs multiple times a week. And it’s pronounced Mar-eye-ke.
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