What was born in the dusty fields of the valley is headed to the seaside shores of Monterey.
Turlock-based Dust Bowl Brewing Company will open a third location, this time in the coastal city just steps from its famed Fisherman’s Wharf. The craft brewery, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary next year, currently has two locations in its Central Valley hometown. The move is the beginning of an ambitious expansion plan for the company in hopes of positioning itself as one of the premiere regional breweries in the state.
“I feel like 2019 is our year; we’ve got our feet underneath us,” said Dust Bowl founder Brett Tate, who started the company in 2009. “It’s our year to really venture out and get creative. We’re a craft brewery and we need to be creative to grow the business.”
Co-owners Tate and Brett Honoré said they’d been looking for a third location for about two years. Monterey made the shortlist for several reasons, not the least of which was the obvious John Steinbeck connection between the two. Dust Bowl’s first beer, which is among its signature brews, was named Hops of Wrath IPA in homage to one of Steinbeck’s most acclaimed works.
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The brewery also draws its name from the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s when farmers from Oklahoma and other plains states caravaned to the Central Valley in search of work and a better life. Tate’s family was among the so-called “Okies” who migrated to California. Nobel Prize-winning author Steinbeck wrote eloquently about that period and the region in novels like “The Grapes of Wrath,” “Cannery Row” and “East of Eden” all while living on the Monterey Bay Peninsula. “We looked at Monterey primarily because of the Dust Bowl story,” said Honoré. “Also for a lot of generations people from the valley have vacationed in Monterey to escape the heat. We have lots of friends go over there, so it was a natural fit.”
But what closed the deal for them was the location itself, near the major tourist destination of Fisherman’s Wharf and across from the marina with water in sight. The historic building was built in 1874 as a train depot. More recently it was used as an organic produce market. When it vacated the long, thin 3,600 square-foot space earlier this year Tate and Honoré began negotiations with the City of Monterey, which owns the structure.
They have since signed a four-year lease and plan to open in the first quarter of 2019, around late February or March. The space is about twice the size of the brewery’s original downtown Turlock taproom, which sits on Main Street. But it’s much smaller than the company’s 30,000 square-foot brewery and taproom which opened on Fulkerth Road in 2016.
Before opening its Monterey taproom, the company will add a large outdoor patio out back — facing the water. Tate and Honoré plan to fence off the area and add fire pits, seating, heaters, outdoor games and more to make the 1,700 square-foot outdoor space a major attraction. The back of the building also runs along the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail, a popular 18-mile waterfront trail that runs from Pacific Grove to Castroville.
The new taproom will not have a full kitchen, so it won’t have the same menu as its Turlock sites. But the men said there will be a selection of food offerings in addition to some 24 beers on tap.
But the new taproom isn’t the end of Dust Bowl’s big plans for its future. Tate said in the next three to four years the company would like to have six satellite taprooms across California. Already while looking for its first outside Turlock spot they explored sites in other valley cities, the Bay Area and Central Coast.
Tate: So within the next 3-4 years we would like to have six satellite taprooms in the state of California. We’ll continue to look at opportunities in and around the area also outside the area. Our goal is to be a regional craft brewery. If you area regional craft brewery you have to be present in multiple areas.
They are also expanding the brand’s distribution to Southern California for the first time. In January you will begin to see Dust Bowl beers in the Los Angeles area. Currently its beer can be found mainly in Central and Northern California, including the Bay Area and Sacramento region, Nevada and Oklahoma. The company has five core beers in its brand, which it bottles year-round, and also produces specialty and seasonal beers sold in 16-ounce cans and on draft.
For all its far afield plans, the Dust Bowl owners said they owe a big part of their success to their hometown fans who have supported two locations and other changes over the years.
“If we didn’t have this foundation and support locally we wouldn’t be in the positions we are right now,” he said. “We’re really thankful for that and how we’re able to grow. We are in a very fortunate spot right now.”
The new Dust Bowl taproom will be at 290 Figueroa St. in Monterey. For more on the Dust Bowl Brewing Company visit www.dustbowlbrewing.com.