I am pleased and honored to introduced the newest column, “Once Upon a Brew Pub” – by dedicated home-brewer and certified beer judge, Don Williams of Cottonwood. Beer-lovers and foodies alike will enjoy Don’s reviews of various brew pubs he encounters during his weekly travels. Please join me in extending a warm welcome to Don from anewscafe.com. Cheers! – Doni
As an avid home brewer, one of the great advantages of traveling for a living is the opportunity to visit microbreweries around the county. I have come upon them in some surprising places. An example of a good find is Dust Bowl Brewing Company Tap Room in Turlock, Calif.
This brewery was founded by Brett Tate. His grandfather and family migrated to California from Oklahoma during the depression in, what else but a Model A Ford.
Brett Tate and co-founder Brett Honore formed a partnership in 2011. They found a head brew master in Don Oliver who won the 2006 Samuel Adams National Home Brew Longshot competition. Taught by his father, Don has been home brewing for years.
Dust Bowl’s tap room opened in August 2011, and is located in downtown Turlock in an old mercantile building on West Main. I had stopped by its brewery several months earlier and was anticipating the opening of the Tap Room. The style is described as “industrial chic” with high ceilings, exposed pipes and a dimly lit atmosphere. It’s really a great place to hang out, have a meal, and enjoy a couple of beers.
That day there were 13 beers on tap. If you want a sampler (five) you can pick your beers. The menu offers a good selection of pub grub. I had the Angus burger cooked the way I like it, medium rare. The burger was served with fries and was very tasty. Below are the beers I sampled, along with my impressions:
Hops of Wrath – Dust Bowl’s flagship ale – A very nice example of an American IPA. The aroma had low malt with a citrusy floral aroma. The hop bitterness was assertive at 50 IBUs (International Bittering Units) but not overpowering. Medium-bodied with a balanced bitterness. 6.6 % ABV (alcohol by volume). This is a very drinkable IPA.
Scotch Ale – Very clean sweet malt aroma with little to no hop aroma. Rich malt flavor and full bodied, with a satisfying alcohol warmth. This is a very quaffable example of this style. 35 IBUs. 7.6 % ABV.
Belgian Style Dark Ale – This ale was somewhere between an Abbey and a Belgian Dark strong ale. It had a pleasant malt aroma with spice notes, and low to no hop aroma. A dark brown with ruby highlights. Full-bodied and well-balanced. The spice notes for the Belgian yeast were very pleasant and added a nice addition to the over flavor. This is a style that I really like, and I enjoyed this sample. 8.3 % ABV gives this ale a pleasant alcohol warmth. Low hop bitterness at 27 IBUs.
Buckwheat Ale – This one I had to try. You just don’t see Buckwheat ales very often, especially in a microbrewery. In fact, in as many brew pubs as I have visited, this is the first example I can remember. No hop aroma, light malt. There was a certain spicy note, most likely from the buckwheat. Light-bodied, low malt flavor, no hop bitterness, aroma, or flavor. Low alcohol at 4.9% ABV. IBUs low at 25 – all around an interesting beer to try.
Winter Ale – Medium malt aroma, low hop aroma. Medium-bodied, with some dark crystal notes, with a bitter aftertaste, well-balanced with a mild spice. At 6.8% ABV, it was a little low on alcohol warmth for my taste, but a drinkable winter ale. 50 IBUs.
If you’re ever in Turlock and want to sample good beers and have a decent meal, I would recommend a stop at Dust Bowl Brewing Co. Tap Room. I’m looking forward to my next five samples. (Dust Bowl does not, at this point, distribute in the Redding area, and the closest source to purchase its beer is Sacramento.)
Dust Bowl Brewing Co. Tap Room
220 West Main St.
Turlock, CA 95380
Don Williams has been a home brewer since 2002. He is a recognized BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) judge, and has taught brewing classes. Don’s job requires extensive travel, and he enjoys visiting brew pubs in various parts of the country. He and his wife live in Cottonwood, CA.