You expect a craft brewer to know a lot about beer, but to write a whole master’s thesis on brewing? Well, that’s taking it to a whole other level.
Bridgette Berry is on that level, and then some. The founder and owner of the new 18Seventy Brewing Co. is bringing all that expertise and beer to downtown Modesto. She plans to open a new brewery and brewpub on J Street, in the heart of downtown, that will also serve coffee and tapas.
The name has deep Modesto roots, referencing the year the city was founded.
“I really wanted to have a connection with the community here,” Berry said, “and this ties the name in with the community and our brewing.”
The brewpub is taking over the long-vacant retail space near the corner of J and Ninth streets. Over the years the site has been home to a variety of businesses. From the 1960s to the 1980s it was a cocktail lounge called The Arch Club. In more recent years it has been split up and seen a hodgepodge of short-lived businesses including a Levi’s jeans exchange and shop that sold iced-out “grills” — precious metal adornments for one’s teeth.
Behind it, for close to 40 years, was the Volkswagen repair shop Mahoney Motors. The owner was a holdout when the city was buying up property for Tenth Street Place, but eventually moved and merged with Walkers Automotive in 2016. It’s now a small auto dealership.
Berry, her wife Korinn and mother Becky are working on the brewpub project together. The plan is to install a one-barrel brewhouse — capable of making 31 gallons per batch — with two brights and three fermenting tanks. Her operation will be more of a nano-brewery on the microbrewery size scale.
The building has been gutted, and all three spaces have now been combined to one large 2,100 square foot space. The east side of the structure will house the brewery, with the coffee shop in the center and then an additional 20 taps on the west end for craft beers from other brewers. Berry said she wants a farmhouse look with concrete floors, roll-up garage doors, wrought iron accents and white shiplap walls. An outdoor patio will be added along J Street as well.
Berry said combining coffee and beer should bring in a diverse crowd, and take advantage of its location right across from the city’s existing transit center and planned ACE train station. She plans to serve espresso, cold brews, and nitro drinks in the cafe. For food she hopes to carry through the nano-theme with small plates and small entrees like sliders.
The brewery will have six exclusive taps for its beer. Berry said she plans to brew mostly session beers, which are lighter and lower alcohol. The other 20 taps will feature crafts brews from across the region and other states including Oregon, Colorado and Texas.
Berry, who has worked for years in the alcoholic beverage industry in the region including as a spirits maker, has been home brewing for the past five years. For the last four years she has been dreaming of opening her own brewery, and looking in the downtown area for locations.
And then there’s her master’s thesis, which she wrote on combining a coffee and brewing business. She completed her MBA from Stanislaus State University in Turlock last year. Berry is still awaiting final approval on her plans, but hopes to start construction in January and then be open by April or May of 2020.