Atwater

Raise your pints. A new craft beer taproom is headed to Castle in Atwater

New Ceres brewery & taproom goes farm to pint

Blaker Brewing is opening its new brewery and taproom in a January. The Ceres spot will start hosting private parties and be open for growler sales in December. (Marijke Rowland/mrowland@modbee.com)
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Blaker Brewing is opening its new brewery and taproom in a January. The Ceres spot will start hosting private parties and be open for growler sales in December. (Marijke Rowland/mrowland@modbee.com)

Atwater is soon to have a new craft beer taproom on the former Castle Air Base.

Ceres-based Blaker Brewing has set its sights on an empty service station just inside the entrance to Castle Commerce Center, where Airdrome Entry forks.

The taproom will be called Blaker Brewing: The Tarmac, according to a state Alcoholic Beverage Control posting. The brewery owners pride themselves on using locally sourced ingredients for their wide array of beer styles.

The 2,790-square-foot building will be expanded by another 300 feet and will offer outdoor seating, according to plans. The taproom would primarily be partnered with food trucks, a common occurrence on the craft beer scene.

The owners are finalizing plans for the building’s rehabilitation, according to Tyler Lucas, the marketing director and son of brewery founder Tom Lucas.

“Hopefully within the next week or so it’s approved and then that’s when we go in and start renovating,” he said, adding they are shooting for a September opening.

The industrial garage look is also common among beer makers, like the Tioga Sequoia taproom in Fresno or the industrial style at Dust Bowl in Turlock. Lucas said The Tarmac will get more rustic farm elements and wood furniture to stick with the family’s agricultural history and the brewery’s brand.

The elder Lucas, whose family has a history in agriculture, started out as a hobbyist before opening the Ceres taproom to the public in January 2018.

The Lucas family has been farming in Turlock since 1938 and still grows corn, wheat, hops, almonds and other products, according to The Modesto Bee. The brewery’s name comes from that first piece of land, which was on Blaker Road.

Some of their beers include pours from Vanilla Bean Milk Stout to Measure X Brown Ale, and Plowed Under IPA to Festa Lager.

Atwater will start out with 14 taps and could expand with time, Lucas said. The bar will offer a mix of standing and sitting areas inside and out. Atwater’s taproom is larger than the Ceres version and has much more space surrounding it, Lucas noted.

The large parking lot and nearby grassy areas give Blaker a place to hold music venues, food events or other entertainment, he said.

“We saw Atwater as a really good opportunity to get familiar with a community ready for something like this,” he said. “The demographics are welcoming.”

The Castle Commerce Center has also added new businesses in recent years and the taproom could cater to the employees. “It’s an exciting time and an interesting time to get involved,” Lucas said.

Though the hours may vary as the Atwater taproom gets off the ground, the owners propose to be open from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week, according to Merced County officials.

Leaders expressed their enthusiasm in successfully bringing the property owner and the brewery together, according to Mark Hendrickson, director of Community and Economic Development for the county.

“Blaker Brewing is an outstanding company, was recently recognized by the California State Assembly and is poised to grow their highly successful business in the days ahead,” he said. “Simply put, we thank them for their investment in our community and look forward to seeing their success at Castle.”

In June, Assemblymember Adam Gray, D-Merced, honored Blaker Brewery as the Assembly District 21 Small Business of the Year.

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Reporter Thaddeus Miller has covered cities in the central San Joaquin Valley since 2010, writing about everything from breaking news to government and police accountability. A native of Fresno, he joined The Fresno Bee in 2019 after time in Merced and Los Banos.
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