Biz Beat

Turlock’s Dust Bowl opens Monterey taproom; coastal town enjoys its big little brews

Check out Turlock-based Dust Bowl’s new taproom in Monterey

Turlock-based Dust Bowl Brewing Company has opened its new Monterey taproom. The new site is steps away from Fisherman's Wharf and other tourist destinations in the coastal city.
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Turlock-based Dust Bowl Brewing Company has opened its new Monterey taproom. The new site is steps away from Fisherman's Wharf and other tourist destinations in the coastal city.

Sun, surf and plenty of suds await at Dust Bowl Brewing Company’s new taproom in Monterey.

The new satellite location from the Turlock-based craft brewery opened late last month in the seaside city. And fans of the Central Valley beer-maker already are making pilgrimages to enjoy its large patio, historic building and some two dozen options on tap.

“We’re huge fans of Dust Bowl. They’ve just got good people, good service and a good feel,” said Chris Neilson, who came to Monterey with his wife and another couple from Turlock to visit the new taproom.

The new site, opened during the brewery’s 10th anniversary year, signals a period of growth for the company. Founder and co-owner Brett Tate said this is one of six total satellite taprooms they plan to ultimately operate, including two more they hope to open in 2020.

“We need to step outside of our comfort zone and become the regional brewery I know we can be,” said Tate, who co-owns the brewery with Brett Honoré.

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Dust Bowl founder and co-owner Brett Tate at his new Dust Bowl Brewing Co. taproom in Monterey, Calif. on July 6, 2019. Marijke Rowland mrowland@modbee.com

After a visit to the taproom, it’s hard to think of a more tailor-made location for the brewery’s first site outside of its hometown. Situated just steps from Monterey’s popular Fisherman’s Wharf and sitting right along the equally popular Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail, the taproom has already attracted a mix of locals and tourists.

Tate and Honoré chose Monterey in part for its association with acclaimed Great Depression-era author John Steinbeck. The first beer it brewed, its signature Hops of Wrath IPA, is named after Steinbeck’s iconic work “Grapes of Wrath” which chronicles the migration of Oklahoma farmers to California during the Dust Bowl.

To pay homage to that history, the inside of the interior features Dust Bowl imagery. The historic building is being leased from the City of Monterey. The structure was built in 1874 as a train depot, hence its long, thin design. Until last year it was used as an organic produce market.

The inside has been refurbished, accented with tasteful grays and other serene colors. But step out into the sunshine of the patio and the place springs to Technicolor. The large back patio runs the length of the building, and is only separated from the coastline by the trail and Fisherman’s Wharf parking lot.

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The back of the new Dust Bowl Brewing Co. taproom in Monterey, Calif. on July 6, 2019. Marijke Rowland mrowland@modbee.com

Judging by the crowds filling the space earlier this month, the brewery is making new fans already. Tate said between 1,000 to 1,200 people stopped in their opening weekend. The mix on a weekend in early July included local residents who wanted to check out the new spot, tourists who stumbled upon it while visiting nearby Fisherman’s Wharf and craft brew enthusiasts from all over.

The inside seats about 109, with seating along the long bar, at a series of bar tables and in the relaxed lounge area. Outside the patio has space for about 145, with built-in custom wooden picnic tables and other seating. The west side of the patio features a corn hole area and the taproom’s resident food truck.

The Monterey site doesn’t have a kitchen, so customers can get a bite to eat at the taco truck or bring in their own food from outside. The lounge area has games people can play for free. This relaxed atmosphere extends to furry friends as well, with dogs allowed both inside and outside on the property. They even have water bowls placed around for thirsty pups.

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Hanna and Chris Ewbank of Pacific Grove play a board game while drinking beer in the new Dust Bowl Brewing Co. taproom in Monterey, Calif. on July 6, 2019. Marijke Rowland mrowland@modbee.com

Thirsty humans can enjoy one of 22 Dust Bowl craft brews on tap — including specialty, seasonal and draft-only releases — and two wines. Pours come in tasting, half and full sizes, depending on how parched you’re feeling. You can also take home crowlers or growlers filled with your favorites. The taproom has a staff of about 15 employees and Turlock regulars should recognize its new general manager Travis Pedretti.

Brett and Lori Scallan of Danville to to Monterey often. They walk the trail that runs along back of the taproom and decided to stop in. Now they’re certain they’ll come back.

“This is great. We’re going to bring friends out here,” said Brett Scallan. “We give it a thumbs up.”

With the coastal city’s warm embrace, it seems Dust Bowl is well on its way to becoming the big-little brewery that could. Which, given its new Monterey location, seems only appropriate.

Dust Bowl’s Monterey Taproom, at 290 Figueroa St., is open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. For more information call 831-641-7002 or visit dustbowlbrewing.com.

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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 midweek and Sundays. And it’s pronounced Mar-eye-ke.
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