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Dust Bowl brews up a sudsy selection for every type of beer drinker

As the Head Brewmaster for Dust Bowl Brewing Company in Turlock, Don Oliver is not letting the booming success from the company’s thriving downtown taproom or new brewery expansion distract him from putting out only the best brews for beer connoisseurs and beer-drinking novices alike.

“Every time a customer picks up a Dust Bowl beer, it’s going to be the Dust Bowl they expect,” said Oliver. “Bad beer is going to find the drain before it finds the customer.”

The brewing company has three year-round offerings, one of which is its flagship India Pale Ale Hops of Wrath. With an Alcohol By Volume (ABV) of 6.6 percent, 50 International Bitterness Units (IBUs) and a light amber color, the IPA uses five hop varieties to create layers of hop flavor and aroma. The beer is described as an “easy drinking IPA for hop heads everywhere” and has citrus and floral notes, as well as a bitterness that aptly balances the malt base.

“Hops of Wrath is going to remain our flagship beer at close to 50 percent of production,” said Oliver. “It is still the number one seller in our tap room and we expect that to be the same when we open our second facility. It is definitely a customer favorite.”

Oliver said that the Therapist Imperial IPA, which is Dust Bowl’s second yearlong option, has “really taken off and blown us away” with the beer growing to occupy approximately 20 percent of the company’s production over the last year and a half. At over 100 IBUs and an ABV of 10.4 percent, the IPA is “surprisingly easy to drink” with bold hop aromas and flavors of citrus, tropical fruits and pine, as well as a light malty sweetness.

With an ABV of 5.3 percent and 24 IBUs, the third continual offering is the Hobo German-style Pilsner, which uses 100 percent Pilsner Malt along with Magnum and Opal hops to create a light flavored, crisp and hoppy lager. To create the beer with its spicy lemon and grainy aromas, light malty flavors and clean hops flavor, the brewing company uses a modified decoction mash, which is a traditional German brewing process in which part of the mash is boiled. The finished product was recognized as a silver medalist during the Los Angeles International Beer Competition in 2014.

Oliver said that the brewing company has plans to add two more lagers to its year-round offerings, however, the specific recipes of which are yet to be finalized.

“We want to offer more beers for people who are just getting into craft beers—beers that are easier to drink,” said Oliver.

In addition to Dust Bowl’s year-round options, the Turlock-based brewing company offers a wide array of seasonal beers, including spring release Super Tramp Wheat-Wine Style Ale (9.8 percent ABV, 24 IBUs), which adds a strawberry puree toward the end of fermentation to provide natural strawberry flavor and aroma, fall release Black Blizzard Russian Imperial Stout (9.4 percent ABV, 80 IBUs), which is characterized by a combination of chocolate, coffee and roasted malt flavors, and winter release The Great Impression Stock Ale (11.4 percent ABV, 43 IBUs), which is defined by balancing bitterness dominated by the malt character.

“At the tap room we’ve done 68 recipes that are repeatable that we would like to keep in the lineup,” said Oliver. “We’re constantly coming up with new items.”

One new beer that could find its way into the hands of beer-enthusiasts soon is Twisted Monk, a Belgian-style Abbey Ale with cherry fused in during fermentation that the brewmaster said makes it taste like “liquid cherry pie.”

Oliver said the brewery’s seasonal beer selection will expand dramatically with the opening of the new brewery, starting with a new four-pack seasonal series in the summer that will include 10 Lizzy, a Scotch Ale with a sweet malty finish, Public Enemy Baltic Porter, Naked Twister Double Red IPA, which has citrus and tropical fruit notes, and Canal Surfer, a citrus IPA.

“We’re not targeting a specific market; we’re trying to make a beer for everybody. We have something in our portfolio for every type of beer drinker out there,” said Oliver. “We want to stay creative and keep people interested in the brand. It is fun for the people who are trying the product and it keeps it fun for us.”

Founded in 2009, Dust Bowl has been brewing beer at a 3,000 square foot facility in Turlock’s Industrial Park that allows the company to produce roughly 4,000 barrels of beer annually. In April of last year, the brewing company broke ground at their new 30,000 square foot brewing, bottling, storage, shipping, and business operations on the corner of Fulkerth Road and Dianne Drive, which will be opened 24 hours a day when completed.

With the expansion, the company projects that 17,000 barrels of beer a year will fulfill the initial capacity with sales projected to reach 10,000 barrels in the first year. Currently, Dust Bowl is selling the maximum amount of beer it can — 5,400 barrels annually — at its present facility on Spengler Way. 

Oliver said that the production side of the new facility is slated for completion this spring, while the tap room and restaurant will hopefully be open sometime this summer. He noted that even with the opening of the new brewery, the company’s existing restaurant and brewing facility will remain open.