Just over a year after beginning its brewing journey, Blaker Brewing of Lucas Dairy is preparing to rewrite its microbrewery plans.
The Lucas family has been farming in Turlock since 1938, but last year the multi-generational ranch took a new path by incorporating beer into their production. On April 2, 2015, fourth-generation farmer Tom Lucas and his father Mike received unanimous support from the Stanislaus County Planning Commission to convert a former milking parlor on their property into a microbrewery.
The family used the old tank room to store milk from 1951 until 1978, and used the building primarily for storage in the following years. Lucas began trying his hand at brewing roughly two years ago, producing small batches of 10 gallons in part of the building. Eventually, he decided to pursue brewing as an addition to his farming operation, and thus Blaker Brewing was born.
The brewing done so far at Blaker Brewing has tied in nicely to the Lucas Dairy farming operations, as the grains that are grown on the property are used in the brewing process. After that, the ‘spent grains’ are fed to the dairy and beef cows. The secondary water from brewing is recycled and used to irrigate the crops, in turn beginning the cycle again.
Despite the microbrewery’s previous approval from the planning commission, Lucas soon realized that the milking parlor wasn’t the answer to his brewery dreams.
“We realized it wasn’t going to be possible in that building,” said Lucas. “It was going to cost just as much to get the building up to code as it would to build something new.”
On Thursday, the planning commission will once again review a request from Blaker Brewing – this time, a new plan is in the works to bring a microbrewery to Lucas Dairy by constructing two new buildings on the 11204 Fulkerth Road property. The dairy’s former milking parlor will be reverted back to agricultural use.
The two new buildings will produce a maximum of 8,680 gallons of beer per week, which is a substantial increase from the microbrewery’s previous allowance of 20 gallons per week for the former milking parlor.
The construction is expected to take place under two development phases, the first of which includes the construction of a 2,448 square-foot building, producing 4,340 gallons of beer per week with five full-time and seven part-time employees. Phase two will bring another 2,448 square-foot building to the site, along with an additional 4,340 gallons of beer per week and 12 more employees. At full build-out, the microbrewery anticipates a maximum of 10 full-time and 14 part-time employees, along with 36 parking spaces on-site.
The expanded microbrewery will operate from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. There will not be a taproom on-site, and the microbrewery will not be open to the general public. The spent grains from the brewing process will continue to be fed to the dairy’s livestock, and the dairy has reduced the number of milk cows from 900 to 650 in order to reduce the microbrewery’s water usage. Water used in the brewing process will also continue to be used as needed for irrigation.