Spades of dirt were turned with ceremonial shovels Friday afternoon on the lot where Blaker Brewery will be operating a brewery and tasting room by this summer.
"It's been a long time coming," said Renee Ledbetter, president of the Ceres Chamber of Commerce, at the ground-breaking in the Miller Industrial Park south of Service Road and west of Morgan Road. "We have spent two and half years - both the city and the Chamber have worked really hard and we are so happy to have Blaker Brewery here as part of Ceres."
Vice Mayor Mike Kline thanked the Lucas family for locating in Ceres when they could have easily chosen their native Turlock.
"It's fantastic to finally see this come to fruition and your passion in coming here to Ceres," said City Manager Toby Wells. "We're thrilled that you're here and we look forward to all of your success. As I've told you many times, your success is our success and we look forward to throwing back a cold one in the very near future."
Blaker Brewery started brewing craft beer in 2012 on the Lucas Dairy - operating on Fulkerth Road in rural Turlock since 1938 - where corn, wheat and hops are grown. Tom Lucas said his family wanted to expand the brewery from the farm based operation and made arrangements with Millcreek Construction of Ceres to build a 6,000-square-foot metal structure for leasing on Monte Claire Drive.
Lucas showed Friday's gathering the approximate locations of the future 1,000-square-foot tap room, malt cracking room and brew house with its stainless steel tanks.
"Yeah, and we will knock back a few brews together so come out and support us just as you have today," said Lucas.
Ledbetter pledged the Chamber's help in getting the word out about Blaker's location in the out-of-the-way industrial park.
"We're a little bit off the beaten path but people are going to find us. In the beer drinking world that's kind of how it happens," said Lucas. "We'll be at all sorts of events, you know, brew-fest events. We're putting together a marketing team and so we'll get the word out."
Blaker has introduced itself to Ceres and region at a number of events, including the Smoke on the River event and Ceres Lions Club events.
Ledbetter said Blaker will be getting its draft beers into local restaurants and stores much in the same way that Dust Bowl in Turlock did. She expressed excitement that the enterprise is bringing a "different type of business to Ceres - it's bringing something that other cities are capturing that we haven't yet captured. I'm optimistic that other business will go, ‘Hey, wait a minute, let's look at Ceres.'"
Blaker Brewing's website notes seven craft beers but Lucas continues to experiment to create new ones. The plan is 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).
The Miller Industrial Park in southwest Ceres consists of smaller lots and is now home to Classic Wine Vinegar, California Landscape Supply, Thrasher Golf, Golden State Utilities, CDC Construction, Irish Construction, B.J.'s Pest Control, Pools by Nelson and Chatz Roasting.