While Dust Bowl Brewing Company's new Fulkerth Road facility is still missing its almost 5-foot tall rooftop neon sign, it hasn't stopped the brewhouse and eatery from attracting visitors from Turlock and across the region. Dust Bowl welcomed over 900 people through the doors of its west Turlock restaurant and working brewery on Monday, making for a very busy opening day.
"It was crazy, crazy...We were looking to just quietly open and that didn't really happen," said Dust Bowl co-owner Brett Honoré. "It's been fantastic and we only expect it to get better this week."
Dust Bowl owners Brett and Karen Tate and Brett and Camy Honoré broke ground on the 30,000 square foot facility located on the corner of Fulkerth Road and Dianne Drive in April 2015. Just over a year later, the craft beer company opened its doors to the public. The new building serves a dual purpose for the company, expanding its brewery operations to allow Dust Bowl to go from producing 4,800 barrels a year to 15,000 to 20,000 barrels a year and creating a larger taproom.
Dust Bowl began brewing beer in 2009, and opened a taproom in downtown Turlock in August 2011. For comparison, the cold box at the new facility is the same size as the entire W. Main Street taproom.
"We knew we had to increase capacity so we were looking up and down the freeway, within a 20-mile radius, trying to find an existing facility. And then we realized in order to build our vision we had to do it from scratch and we came upon these five acres right off the highway and everything just seemed to fall in place. A year and half later, after we broke ground, we're up and ready to go," said Brett Tate.
The new taproom seats 120 people inside — with views of the brewhouse through expansive windows that wrap around the bar — and 160 people can be accommodated on the patio, with another 120 in the beer garden.
The building includes a number of unique features crafted by local artists.
Buddy Jones, and his assistant Steve, of Ornamental Iron Designs in Denair created the oversized hanging "bucket" lights, bar, retail cabinets, entry wall with backlit cut-out of the barbed-wire twister icon. They also made the patio fence and collaborated on the large map mural.
TJ McDonald and team at West Steel & Plastics in Turlock made the metal tables, custom keg bike racks and keg urinals, patio light fixtures, hostess stand, sampler trays and custom metal clip boards for tags.
Lesa Clausen and Chloe Lusher, mother-daughter painting duo of Turlock, painting of the high top tables and some signage. Vince Bogetti, a Patterson craftsman, created the beer garden picnic tables and benches. Jim Burden, a Turlock wood craftsman made the giant Connect Four games, and Javier and James from F and S Design in Patterson created the DB mural.
The map on the north-facing interior wall was a collaboration between Clausen, Lusher, Ornamental Iron Designs and F and S Design.
"We knew it was going to be difficult to recreate the vibe we have downtown in a larger scale, but I think we accomplished it. It was a lot of work and effort between interior designers, ourselves and local artisans that make up this great environment for people to come and enjoy themselves. I think we hit it pretty good," said Tate.
The outdoor patio and beer garden area offers visitors a place to relax and enjoy a bite to eat, a beer or two and a number of lawn games. Guests can play corn hole, a giant-sized Jenga, life-size Connect Four and lawn bocce. Well-behaved canine friends on a leash are also welcome in the beer garden area.
"It's just a fun atmosphere. It's amazing when the lights come up and the sun goes down what a great ambience that it is. It's way better than I could ever imagine," said Tate. "Interactive, social that's what beer is, it's always been that way — beer and food."
"That's what craft beer is, having fun," agreed Honoré.
Dust Bowl already has a loyal following from visitors to its Main Street taproom and the new restaurant features favorites from the downtown menu, like "Squeakers," Hilmar cheese curds lightly fried with Hops of Wrath beer batter, and sweet potato fries. The new brewery, however, has its own unique menu and includes a number of new items like artisanal pizza.
The taproom boasts 20 tap towers, where 18 different styles of Dust Bowl brews are poured. The taproom is also offering Crowler fills. A Crowler (can plus growler) is a 32-ounce can filled with fresh beer from the tap.
"It's beer we don't put into bottles...you get a lot of our experimental beers, our newer beers. It's just a really good mechanism and we're excited to offer those now," said Honoré.
Dust Bowl recently released three new brews — Canal Surfer, a grapefruit IPA and the first of its seasonal Vintage series — and two Mexican-style lagers, Taco Truck Lager and Taco Truck Amber Lager.
While Tate and Honoré are still enjoying the success of their opening, they also have plans to include brew house tours in the near future and eventually caterings and events.
"We're primed and ready to go for any expansion that we want to take place. We'll grow organically...it'll be a continual growth process," said Tate.
The new brewhouse and taproom brought 120 jobs to town, from hosts and servers to cooks and management. The staff completed a weeklong training and three mock service days for friends and family before opening the doors to the public.
The brewery has 15 employees who will split their time between the new brewery and the original brewery, which will produce small batches and sour beers, a new trend in craft beer. Additionally, Dust Bowl Brewing Co. has 15 office staff, including sales, marketing and corporate management. The company’s original Main Street taproom, employs a staff of 43 and will continue to serve the now-booming downtown Turlock scene.
Dust Bowl's new brewhouse and taproom is located at 3000 Fulkerth Rd., Turlock. Hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and Sunday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.