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Helm’s Ale House: What a family pub should be

Ale lovers in the 209 don’t have to go any further than downtown Tracy to find some of the best ales, beers, and pilsners from around the globe, available at Helm’s Ale House on Central Avenue.

With over 24 beers on tap, Helm’s Ale House also holds a full liquor license and serves lunch and dinner menus that include eight pasta dishes, steaks, 10 different gourmet hamburgers, made-to-order pizzas, and their distinctive garlic rolls.

Proprietor Dave Helm opened Helm’s Ale House in 2009 after a previous career as a law enforcement officer in the Bay Area.

“I couldn’t find a decent beer in Tracy,” Helm said, stating he would have to go to nearby ale houses in Livermore or Stockton. “As far as I was concerned, there was a market that was being ignored.”

Helm said the road to establishing a successful local ale house wasn’t easy as the naysayers and even some distributors described the 209 area as a “beer desert.”

“I literally called breweries and asked, ‘how can I get your beer?’” Helm said. “They told me there was no market here; that residents weren’t ‘sophisticated enough’ for craft beers.”
Helm endured, and with the help of a local distributor, Roy Medeiros of Valley Distributors, Helm was able to connect with Stone Brewery of Escondido which led to him becoming a vendor of Stone Ales and others.

Helm said that in addition to offering microbrews and specialty ales alongside widely known beer labels, he wanted to have a place where people could grab a couple beers over lunch, wind down after work, or where families could meet for a nice meal.

Helm’s chef, Pat Goodwin, is a graduate of the New York Culinary Academy and brings over 15 years of creative food preparation to the table with mouthwatering entrées, appetizers and specials.
Helm’s offers Prime Rib Night on Thursdays, Friday Night Specials, extraordinary calzones to go with Pint Night – where all beers are priced one dollar off and patrons get to keep the glass – on Wednesdays, and live music.

All burgers are hand mixed and hand formed and they make their own pizza dough on site. The garlic rolls, a must-have at Helm’s Ale House, are house-made bread biscuits pan fried in garlic.

Helm’s Ale House moved to its current location at 600 Central Ave., Tracy, two years ago, and is just a few blocks away from the original site at 10th Street and Central Avenue.

The inside of Helm’s Ale House is adorned with much personal history among patron-contributed police and fire department uniform patches and various memorabilia and awards from Helm’s law enforcement career including a letter from President Bill Clinton from 1993 when Helm was shot in the line of duty.

One side of the restaurant is totally devoted to US military memorabilia including history of the USS Helm, a destroyer from World War II named after a great-uncle of Helm’s, Rear Admiral James Meredith Helm, along with other relatives’ military service reminders and Desert Storm and Viet Nam artifacts.

With its craft beers, Helm’s Ale House presents various “concoctions” with their beermosa – a combination of tangerine ale, pear cider and orange juice, its creamsicle – tangerine ale, pear cider and vanilla, or its chocolate milkshake of 8-Ball stout, Stone porter, pear cider and vanilla.

“What can I say?” Helm offered. “I like to play with beer.”

Helm’s Ale House

600 Central Ave.
Tracy, CA 95376
(209) 229-8667

Regular Hours

Mon – Thurs 3 pm - 10 pm
Fri – Sat 11 am - 11 pm