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Dust Bowl on tap

Former teacher brews own beer

Dust Bowl on tap

Candace Mendes pours a glass of Dust Bowl Brewery beer at downtown Turlock's Bistro 234.


POSTED September 11, 2009 10:00 p.m.
One morning, former Pitman High teacher and coach Brett Tate woke up and grabbed the morning paper. As he was glancing through the pages he came across one article about a local brewer. That one article changed his life.  
Tate, being a teacher for the past 20 years, was searching for a change of careers. He wanted to get more into business, perhaps even start his own.  
The article he stumbled upon that day, was about Don Oliver — a young man who won the Samual Adams Longshot Homebrew Competition in 2006. In the article, Oliver expressed his interest to start his own brewery. Tate called up Oliver and that is the day they started the Dust Bowl Brewing Company together.   
The Dust Bowl Brewing Company officially started earlier this year, filling kegs throughout the area in Turlock, Modesto, Merced, Hilmar, Livingston, Oakdale, Stevinson and Stockton. They have been spreading their India Pale Ale, Hops of Wrath through barbed wire decorated green-taps in different bars and restaurants throughout Valley.     
“During the Dust Bowl, they used to set up barbed wire to claim their land back in the day,” Tate said.  
The spirit of the Dust Bowl Brewing Company comes from Tate’s family history. His family traveled from Oaklahoma to California in the 1930s during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. This is also where their soon-to-be beer names come from: Hobo, Fruit-tramp, and Barbed Wire.  
“The Dust Bowl is lost sometimes within the Great Depression. This is what drove people to move West,” Tate said.
Tate and Oliver said they plan on getting their beer out in the local distribution area with 22 ounce bottles. They are just waiting to design the label, which could take up to a couple of months to approve. Right now they have their beer on tap in different places in the area and they have kegs.  
“Starting with kegs is hard because you have to find some room in the lineup of taps already up there,” Oliver said.
Their main goal is to get their Hops of Wrath beer into the market, create 22 ounce bottles, and perfect the new beers they are working on, Tate said.  
In the next five years, they hope to grow in annual production, have bottles on the shelf, open their own brew pup and create new products, he said. They are working on new beer recipes planned for Barbed Wire, Hobo and Fruit-tramp. They don’t plan on releasing any new beer until it is perfected.  
“Our goal is to make beers open to everybody,” Tate said. “If you make quality beer, there will always be a market for it.”  
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail mmartens@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.
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