BY ANGELINA MARTIN
Blaker Brewing may have recently celebrated the second birthday of its Ceres taproom, but now the beloved brewery has something else to say “cheers” about with the opening of its second location in Atwater, The Tarmac.
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 craft beer aficionados from the Central Valley and beyond 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. While The Tarmac is currently experimenting with a “soft opening” on the weekends, a grand opening celebration is set for next weekend.
“We saw this as an opportunity to get involved in a community that has a growing economy and energy, and to be a part of the renewal here in Atwater,” Blaker Brewing President Keaton Williams said. “We saw that between Turlock and Modesto all the way down to Fresno, there wasn’t a lot going on and plenty of people who need things to do.”
Last summer, Blaker Brewing’s Ceres location was brewing about 50 barrels per week, or over 6,000 gallons of beer in a month. All of the brewery’s beer will still be made in Ceres but sold at both locations. The Tarmac joins a growing commercial hub on the Castle Air Force Base, including Google, a forthcoming escape room and a boutique hotel.
The Tarmac includes a newly-remodeled building on the air force base that’s twice the size of the Ceres location, an outdoor seating area and a large, grassy knoll that Blaker Brewing plans to host events on, such as concerts, beer festivals and comedy shows.
Cornhole and food trucks will follow as well, and even a trivia night or two — favorites that the brewery’s “fans,” as the business calls them, have turned into tradition. It’s this support that has helped Blaker Brewing become so successful in just two short years, Williams said.
“Especially in the Valley, there are a lot of people who come from working class families and really appreciate small businesses and the local craft beer industry,” he said. “What the market wants as a whole is beer that’s made locally and a place to go enjoy that beer. Craft breweries — including our big brother Dust Bowl — are going into that model of opening a location where people can enjoy quality brews and have an overall experience of connecting with people. We want to connect with our fans in a more special way and have experiences be a part of that connection.”
“That space is going to let us bring a lot of people into one space and throw some events — that’s our ambition,” Williams said. “There’s not always a lot of things going on in the Valley, so we see an awesome opportunity to be a part of that changing.”
The Tarmac is located on the Castle Air Force Base in Atwater, 1930 Airdrome Entry. Hours are 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday. For more information, visit www.blakerbrewing.com or find @blakertarmac on Instagram.
BY ANGELINA MARTIN