Blaker Brewing to take flight in Atwater
BY ANGELINA MARTIN
Less than two years after opening its flagship location in Ceres, Blaker Brewing is heading just down the freeway to build a second site in Atwater that will take its beer to new heights.
Since growing from a family farm-based operation six miles west of Turlock into the popular taproom on Montclaire Drive in Ceres, Blaker Brewing has attracted visitors from all over the Central Valley who are eager to get a taste of the brewery’s countless craft beers — creations from the minds of founder Tom Lucas and lead brewer Tyler Klaproth.
The brewery’s success since opening its doors in January 2018 has led Lucas to expand his operation, tapping the Castle Air Force Base in Atwater as Blaker Brewing’s second location. According to head of marketing Tyler Lucas, Ceres developer Shane Parsons offered the brewery a location that sits on the grounds of the base, offering enough space for both a satellite taproom and event venue.
The new space will be aptly named The Tarmac, and is expected to open sometime this fall, Lucas said.
“We’re shooting for October, or late fall to be safe,” Lucas said. “If we can hit that, that’d be awesome. There are a lot of moving parts.”
Blaker Brewing’s Ceres taproom is currently brewing about 50 barrels per week, adding up to over 6,000 gallons of beer brewed in a month. This is about double what the brewery was making in 2018, Lucas added, and the business’ success has come from a perfect mixture of a supportive company culture and community support.
“Both the people we have working with us and for us as well as the people in the community make it all work and go around by coming to our taproom,” he said, pointing out that for the sheer volume of beer Blaker Brewing puts out and the amount of work it takes to keep the operation running, the brewery’s staff is small in comparison.
“Everybody has to wear multiple hats and everybody’s really bought in to what we’re doing here as a family,” Lucas said. “Without that type of culture, I don’t think we have people willing to go above and beyond…it really makes all the difference in the world.”
The brewery’s new, second location on the air force base includes the building that the new taproom will soon call home, and a large, grassy knoll that Blaker Brewing plans to host events on, such as concerts, beer festivals and comedy shows. With the University of California, Merced, and Merced College nearby, the brewery hopes to cater to not just seasoned beer drinkers, but the younger crowd as well.
“We have the opportunity to create those experiences that millennials are looking for, and we really want to cater to that,” Lucas said. “It all depends on what the community wants to see, what we think would be great and finding a perfect combination of both of those things.”
While the new location may have more space than the original taproom, it’s the support of the surrounding communities in both Atwater and Ceres that have made the last two years possible for Blaker Brewing.
“The Ceres community has been really supportive and nothing but fun, and we wouldn’t be where we’re at without them, so we wanted to go to a place that embellished all of those same qualities and characteristics we love about Ceres,” Lucas said. “Atwater struck a chord for us.”