A packed crowd gathered last week to celebrate the grand opening of Blaker Brewing — Ceres' first-ever craft micro-brewery and tap room.
The Lucas family of Turlock broke ground on its 6,000-square-foot Blaker Brewing facility and tap room at 1061 Monteclaire 10 months ago. The brewery was a dream of Tom Lucas, who started making beer on his family's dairy in rural Turlock in 2012. Tom began incorporating the corn, wheat and hops grown on the farm into the beer. Lucas said his family wanted to expand the brewery from the farm-based operation and were met with open arms by Ceres Chamber and city officials.
"We are pleased the way it turned out," said Tom. "A year ago, we started building in March and it was a dirt pad. It's really become what we envisioned it to be. It really has. When you see it on paper, you're thinking this is where our tables are going to go, this is where our stools are going to go and you're wondering do we have enough space to walk around? So then when it comes together we realized, okay, we did it. It's pretty neat to watch."
A steel silo structure gives the exterior of Blaker a decidedly farm feel. Those who attended Friday's grand opening marveled at the modern interior design that features weathered wooden planks stripped from the ceiling of the old Barnwood Restaurant that was razed in Ripon.
"It was all us just kind of putting our minds together and we put together a vision boards and went back and forth and thought about stuff," said Lucas when asked who gave input on design.
A finishing touch to the gated yard just before the grand opening is a wooden seating structure for outdoor relaxation.
The facility currently employs three but brought in a host of family members and friends to help out during the promotional Grand Opening Weekend.
Lucas said Blaker Brewing will be switching up hours but for now plans to stay open 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; noon to 9 p.m. on Saturdays; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
Food will be served "as often as we can get food vendors coming," said Lucas. However, an onsite prep kitchen keeps open the option of the company serving its own food. Grand opening weekend food vendors included Food Fox of Modesto, Tri-Tipery of Ballico, and Pizza by La Rosa & Sons of Hughson. Music supplied on Friday and Saturday was by Mattea Overstreet and Cash Prophets.
"This project would not have come to fruition had it not been for the city embracing the concept of bringing Blaker Brewing here," said Renee Ledbetter, president of the Chamber of Commerce, at the event.
She said the effort to land the business in Ceres was a three-year endeavor.
Lucas added that Ledbetter was also supportive of the location effort. He also thanked his father for allowing him "to follow a crazy dream."
Blaker will be releasing its first canned beer at a Can Release Party at 5 p.m. Jan. 19. Lucas said his company will release the Vanilla Ben milk stout beer and the Measure X American brown ale, right off the conveyor belt.
"You can basically come in and buy cases of it right off the line." Four packs of Blaker products will run $12.99.
Blaker Brewing features 13 craft beers but Lucas said the company continues to experiment to create new ones.
A handout provided at Friday's ceremony highlighted the company's 13 craft beers as follows: Measure X American Brown Ale (6.7% ABV and 38 IBU); the Vanilla Bean Milk Stout (5.5% ABV and 28 IBU); Honeybabies Blonde Ale (4.6% ABV, 21 IBU); Coffee Porter with Ethiopian Mokamba (5% ABV, 30 IBU); Hop Stampede Imperial IPA (9% ABV, 65 IBU); Fall of '38 fruit beer (mandarin oranges and cinnamon) (5.3% ABV, 20 IBU); Almond Brown Ale (4.5% ABV, 20 IBU); Big Nothin' Scotch Ale, (9.6% ABV, 27 IBU); Tin Can Courier American IPA, (7% ABV, 55 IBU); Pineapple Milkshake New England IPA (7.1% ABV, 32 IBU); Festa Vienna Lager (6% ABV, 21 IBU); Barrel-Aged Big Nothin' Scotch Ale (9.1% ABV, 22 IBU); and Barrel-Aged Imperial Vanilla Bean Milk Stout (9.1% ABV, 33 IBU).
Blaker Brewing may be reached at 585-4040.