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Brewery hopes to open by October
Turlock beer maker readies Ceres tap room
Tom Lucas of Blaker Brewery pictured at the March groundbreaking ceremony for his Blaker Brewing plant and tasting room in southwest Ceres. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

Construction continues in southwest Ceres for Blaker Brewery's new beer brewery and tap room with a possible opening in October.

The fledgling company from rural Turlock broke ground inside the Miller Industrial Park in March and hoped to be open by July. Things have taken a little longer, said Tom Lucas of Blaker Brewery.

"We had an empty building on June 14 so we've come pretty far pretty fast once I got in here and was able to do what we wanted to do," said Lucas. "But it took a while to get the parking lot and get the shell done. It was the thing that kind of held us back."

The introduction of hot water this week will allow the company to do some water brews and clean-out brews.

Blaker plans to "iron out the kinks" in a couple of soft openings followed by a grand opening at a yet-to-be-determined date.

"We will know once we get that first brew done. We'll be able to set a date shortly after that but we're shooting toward the end of October."

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. The facility will feature a 1,000-square-foot tap room, malt cracking room and brew house with its stainless steel tanks.

Blaker has introduced itself to Ceres and region at a number of events, including the annual Chamber barbecue competition event and Ceres Lions Club events.

Renee Ledbetter, president of the Ceres Chamber of Commerce, said she's spent two and half years with the city working to Blaker Brewery in Ceres. She has also 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."

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 13 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 American Double Brown Ale (5.7 percent); Big Nothin' Wee Heavy (9.9 percent); Summer of ‘38 Cream Ale (4.6 percent); Imperial Stout IPA, Almond Brown Ale, Honeybabies Blonde Ale, Fruited Saison, Berlier Weisse, Dark Oasis Yemon Coffee Porter 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.