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Turlock's Blaker Brewing to open taproom in Ceres
Blaker Brewing pic
Tom Lucas of Lucas Dairy squats next to what is the beginning of a hops field which will be used in his beer, Blaker Brewing, while his daughter Sophia Adele plays with wheat in the background. - photo by Journal file photo

Tom Lucas is excited about plans to open a tap room to promote his family’s fledgling craft brewery.

“We’re excited,” said owner and brew master Tom Lucas. “It’s been a long journey to say the least. We can’t wait to get out there.”

Blaker Brewing is preparing to escalate the brewery from its current family farm based oper­ation on Fulkerth Road six miles west of Turlock. Lucas has signed a lease in Ceres with the inten­tion of breaking ground for a new 6,000-square-foot facility in March with a tentative opening in July. The craft brewery will feature a tap room on Monte Claire Drive off Farm Supply Drive. The industrial area in southwest Ceres is home of Classic Wine Vinegar, California Landscape Sup­ply, Thrasher Golf and Chatz Roasting.

“We can’t sell beer yet but we’ve been able to supply beer for non-profit events, like the Central Valley Brew Fest and Smoke on the River and those sorts of thing,” said Lucas. “We’ve done other events throughout Ceres, through the Lions Club, and through the Chamber of Commerce. That’s how we’ve gotten our products out there.”

Blaker Brewery is not licensed to sell its beers until it gets an estab­lished address. Tom said he just sent an application off to the state and that he expected the process to take three to four months.

“I have to wait until I actu­ally have a building secured before I can get a license. We’ll be able to sell in stores. We will be at stores, bars, restaurants throughout the area and then you can come to our tap room and taste. We’ll have a little reach-in cooler that you’ll be able to purchase our product by can or bottles and by kegs as well.”

Lucas is submitting plans to the city for approval of the suite.

Blaker Brewing’s website mentions that they produce seven craft beers but Lucas continues to experiment to cre­ate new ones.

“We’re going to put three to four styles out on the market. We’ll have in our tap room up to 12 handles is what we’re planning right now. We’ve probably made at least 20 dif­ferent styles. We have kind of a group of about 10 that are fairly solid that we can bring in right away. We’re always experimenting and innovating and coming up with new stuff. We’ll have a few handles in there that are always rotating new fresh supply of different styles.”

The website mentions these products: the Vanilla Bean Milk Stout (4.9 percent alco­hol); Plowed Under IPA (Irish Pale Ale) at 7.1 percent; Festa Vienna Lager (5.5 percent); the Measure-X Double Brown Ale (5.7 percent); Big Nothin’ Wee Heavy (9.9 percent); Summer of ’38 Cream Ale (4.6 per­cent); and Fix Session IPA (5.0 percent).

Lucas said the Lucas Dairy has been operating since 1938 when his great-grandfather started it. They operate a dairy and also grow corn, wheat and hops. Brewing came along in 2012.

“In the last five or six years we started to develop this brewery idea. Where it kind of grew out of was we were home brewing as a side project and then we started to think we could do something that incor­porates the farm. We realized brewing is farming, you know, you’ve got the barley, you’ve got the hops. We are able to grow some of our own hops. Another aspect that kind of tied the brewery back into the farm is our spent grains can go back to our cattle. So we get kind of a little loop there, a sustainable loop between the farm and the brewery. When we some of those connections we thought we’ve got something that can be special here, a true farm­house brewery.”

Lucas said he’s been ener­gized by watching the Dust Bowl Brewery take off in Tur­lock. The product is served in local stores and at eateries in downtown Turlock and at their new brewery/restaurant on Fulkerth Road west of High­way 99.

“They’ve been very help­ful and it’s been great getting to know those guys. They’ve helped us with all kinds of small ideas to help us get started. Seeing what they’re doing now is at a different level. It’s been pretty incredible to watch them grow in such a short period of time.”