Blaker Brewing: Sustainable & Sessionable
By Jordan Severns
With popular competition like Dust Bowl, Last Call, and St. Stan’s breweries providing Stanislaus County with a wealth of craft beers and environments in which to enjoy them, it can be difficult for a new brewery to stand out among the rest. Fortunately for Blaker Brewing in Ceres, they’ve done just that with their friendly atmosphere, rural aesthetic, and sustainable production methods, ensuring a product that’s as good for the world as it is delicious!
The story of Blaker Brewing truly begins in 1938, when Norman and Freda Lucas founded the Lucas Dairy in Turlock as part of a lifetime of work, which saw the pair elected to the Stanislaus County Ag Hall of Fame. Their dairy has become the foundation of everything Blaker does, because when founder Tom Lucas and lead brewer Tyler Klaproth began brewing on the dairy in 2014, they quickly noticed the “striking link between the farm and the brewhouse”—grains, hops, fruit additions, and other local farm ingredients—that made brewing from the family farm a natural and obvious choice.
They’ve seen that other agricultural businesses lack sufficient systems for sustainability and efficiency, and have turned that flaw into their greatest opportunity. “Those connections are the underlying force behind Blaker Brewing,” said Lucas.
Take water, for example. At most breweries, the leftover water from the brewing process is discarded. But at Blaker, they don’t believe in waste. After the water goes through the sand trap, solid separator, and into the settling basin for brewing, the remaining water is then used to irrigate hundreds of acres of corn and wheat. And after they’ve taken what they need from those grains, they go straight into the feeding bins of their cows, whose wellbeing are carefully monitored by electronic equipment, ensuring a healthier life for the cows, and a more sanitary production environment for the humans.
“Our promise to the next generation is that we will strive to safeguard a prosperous present and future,” says the Blaker Brewing website. “In short, sustainability makes you better.”
Fast forward to March of 2017. The founders began building the current brewhouse and taproom in Ceres, which was completed and opened in January of 2018. The process was challenging, but they had a lot of help along the way from the brewing community, to whom they have tried to give back as much as possible. It’s a competition, yes, but a stronger brewing community is better for everybody involved.
Since opening, Blaker has been very popular, and while their sustainability is the foundation, high quality craft beer is the end result. They make an effort to cover the spectrum of styles and tastes—pale ales, lagers, IPAs, and stouts—and place an emphasis on approachability.
“In my personal opinion, there has been a push toward beers that are high alcohol, high bittering. Although those beers have their place on our menu, we have many beers that are quite sessionable,” Lucas says. He adds that their barrel-aged beers and fruity beers are a treat
In addition to their own output, Blaker has benefitted from a relationship with Hank Olson of the Food Fix Truck, which has been repeatedly called one of the best food trucks in the nation. He will often stop by Blaker on Friday to pair his delicious food with their amazing craft beers.
As any local business should, Blaker Brewing recognizes that its community is the most important thing, and seeks to give back to it and communicate with it at every opportunity, whether that means donating their drinks to an MJC fundraiser, or helping raise up other local breweries in an ever-changing and growing field.
“Craft brewing is a vibrant growing industry. You have to keep learning and striving for the best outcomes. Delighted customers are the end result,” Lucas said. And you’ll certainly find no shortage of those at Blaker Brewing!
For more information about the brewery, check out blakerbrewing.com or the Blaker Brewing Facebook page.