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June/July 2014 The Lede Noises O Summer Fashion Bobcat Brewing Vista Cellars

This is a free publication!



How pioneers of the new beverage culture are reimagining the downtown landscape


014 June 11-15, 2

Where to buy tickets:

$5 General Admission

for everyone 6 years & up! Children 5 & under FREE admission

Advance Discounts on Admission:

5-Pack Admission June 1–10..........................................$20

Advance Discounts on Carnival Rides:

All-Day-Ride Discount Coupon thru June 10 .................$23

Exchange for Unlimited Ride Wrist Wrap good any one day of the Fair. After June 10 the price is $30 each.

Table Mountain FREE Concert Series presented by Modelo Especial

• Purchase online or at the Fairgrounds Office from 8am-5pm Mon.- Fri. • Advance Discount Tickets at Rancho San Miguel Market, 1930 Yosemite Pkwy, Merced, 7am to 10pm Presale Ticket Outlet

Grandstand entertainment presented by Table Mountain, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Modelo Especial and Rancho San Miguel Markets

WEDNESDAY MERCY MEDICAL CENTER SENIORS’ DAY Free admission Seniors 65 & better

Lincoln Brewster Auto Races $5 GRANDSTAND

THURSDAY KIDS’ DAY 12 & under free admission

The Marshall Tucker Band Auto Races & Jet Car Show

Lincoln Brewster



WAR Truck & Tractor Pulls $5 GRANDSTAND SATURDAY

True 2 Crue Humpz & Hornz Bull Riding $5 GRANDSTAND

The Marshall Tucker Band


Hypnotist Alan Sands Jaripeo Ranchero


True 2 Crue

Tickets at 900 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Merced, CA 95341 • 209-722-1507 Fair Hours: Wed.-Fri. 5pm-12:30am, Sat. 3pm-12:30am, Sun. Noon-12:30am




THEopen PARTISAN 7 days a week noon

17th street

public house CROSSWORD puzzle


1. Adam Carolla's horrible wine creation. 7. Bar from Three’s Company. 11. Bar owner from Cheers. 12. 1988 film starring Tom Cruise. 15. Woody Harrelson’s character on Cheers. 16. Bartender from The Shining. 18. Coach from Cheers given character name.

2. The ___ __ ___ Club (Who Framed Rodger Rabbit.) 3. Bar from The Shining. 4. Bartender from Grey’s Anatomy. 5. Inn from Fellowship of the Rings. 6. The _______ Clam (Family Guy) 8. Birthplace of the USMC 9. Not allowed in the Mos Eisley Cantina 10. Bar film starring Mickey Rourke 14. Brewery Laverne & Shirley worked for. 17. Homer Simpson’s favorite beer.

Contents The Lede

Check out the DLM’s new bigger and better event calendar. Page 7

The Players PUBLISHER: Tom Price WEB GURU: Kenneth Nelson CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Matt Robinson, Cindy Panyanouvong EDITORS: Tom Price, Tina Takes, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER: Dan Hong, Matthew MacLeod, Cindy Panyanouvong, Tina Takes

Thrifty Summer Check out these summer fasihons from the DLM Style Stalkers. Page 12

The Cover COVER: Beer & Wine Issue

Noises Off!

Playhouse readies for opening of hilairous new comedy.

PHOTOGRAPHER: Contributed Photo MODEL: Dustbowl Brewery Tap Room in Turlock

Page 16

Beer Business

See how the craft beer industry has rescued Downtown. Page 18

Bobcat Brewing

Issue 56 Volume 4

Peter Howell has big plans brewing in Merced. Page 27




SUBSCRIBE Would you like to get 12 issues of the Downtown Life Magazine delivered to your house for just $25? You will receive Merced County’s premier entertainment, culture and event publication right in your mailbox along with a host of gifts from the DLM and deals from local sponsors and advertisers.

Find Us WEBSITE: FACEBOOK: TWITTER: EMAIL: PHONE: 209-349-8233 SNAIL MAIL: PO BOX 1604 Merced CA, 95341

Venues MERCED 17TH STREET PUBLIC HOUSE pub / tap room 315 W. Main St.



university 5200 N. Lake Rd.

ORYLEIGH’S bar / nightclub 1730 Canal St.

restaurant / bar 510 W. Main St.




nightclub 427 W. Main St.


nightclub 224 W. Main St.


restaurant 437 W. Main St.

MERCED THEATRE large capacity theater 301 W. Main St.

MULTICULTURAL ARTS CENTER gallery / venue 645 W. Main St.

ORYLEIGH’S bar/nightclub 1730 Canal St.

PLAYHOUSE MERCED community theater 452 W. Main St.

THE PARTISAN bar / music venue 432 W. Main St.


record store 621 W. Main St.

restaurant / tap room 10 E. Main St.

CSU STANISLAUS university 1 University Circle


beer bar / tap room 200 W. Main St.


nightclub / bar 153 S. Broadway

COMMUNITY THEATRE community theater 1574 E. Canal St.

VINTAGE ROOM nightclub / venue 110 W. Main St.


Visit www.thedlm. com/thelede or Email us at

JUNE 6 (6 PM) NEW GLORY TAP TAKEOVER, 17th Street Public House A six-tap takeover by New Glory Craft Brewery from Sacramento. Beer served until beer runs out. Info: Facebook JUNE 7 (11 AM to 3 PM) FATHERHOOD CELEBRATION, Applegate Park Fun, food and prizes for the entire family. Face painting, raffle prizes and the first 500 families will receive free family photos. Info: Facebook JUNE 7 (4 PM): SUMMERFEST, CSU Stanislaus Featuring some of today’s hottest acts including Young Jeezy’s newest signee YG who currently has several top 10 hits spinning on radio. Tickets: $30 / Eventbrite JUNE 8 (6 PM) RANCHO PICCOLO TO YOUR TABLE, J&R Tacos Dinner event with guest Chef Tanisha and Chef Ale. Ccooking up a traditional, mediterranean meal using locally sourced, organic products from Merced’s very own, Rancho Piccolo. Tickets/Info: $27 / EventBrite JUNE 8 (3 PM) MARY OF NAZARETH, Merced Theatre St. Patrick’s Parish hosts a screening of Mary of Nazareth. Tickets/Info: $10 / JUNE 10 (6:30 PM): WINE DINNER, 510 Bistro A five course meal paired with Silkwood winery in Modesto. Tickets/Info: $60 / RSVP: 209-381-0280 JUNE 11 (5 PM to 12:30 AM PM) MERCED COUNTY FAIR, Merced County Fairgrounds Lincoln Brewster will be returning to the Fair opening day. The talented guitarist and songwriter once played lead guitar for Steve Perry, former singer with the rock band Journey. Performance starts at 8:30pm. Tickets/Info: Get the 5-pack of tickets for $20 at Rancho San Miguel in Advance / JUNE 12 (5 PM to 12:30 AM PM) MERCED COUNTY FAIR, Merced County Fairgrounds The Marshall Tucker band is brining the Southern rock sound to the Fair. Their singles include “Heard It In a Love Song,” “Fire On The Mountain,” “Can’t You See,” and “Take The Highway.” Performance starts at 8:30pm. Tickets/Info:


JUNE 13 (6 PM) ROGUE FARMS TAP TAKEOVER, 17th Street Public House A special night of Rogue Farm’s craft beer for Father’s Day weekend. JUNE 13 (5 PM to 12:30 AM) MERCED COUNTY FAIR, Merced County Fairgrounds WAR’s winning combination of funk, jazz, R&B and Rock and Roll has sold some more than 50 million albums worldwide. Now, they will play at the Merced County Fairgrounds. Performance starts at 8:30 p.m. Tickets/Info: JUNE 14 (6:30 to 9 PM PM) COMMUNITY FILM SCREENING, The Arts Center Screening and discussion of “The House I Live In” a film delaing with the United States’ incarceration rate. Information: JUNE 14 (5 PM to 12:30 AM) MERCED COUNTY FAIR, Merced County Fairgrounds The high adrenaline tribute band to Motley Crue — True 2 Crue — will be performing their more “family-friendly” show at the Fair. Performance starts at 8:30pm. Tickets/Info: JUNE 15 (Noon to 5 PM) SALSA AT THE LAKE, Lake Yosemite A great day of celebration for the whole family. Father son/daughter activities, salsa dance competition, salsa making competition, kid activities, car exhibit, beer garden and music. Information: Event is free (Facebook)

JUNE 15 (9 PM) J-STALIN LIVE, Club Bahia Rapper J. Stalin performs along with Nit Da Pit and Noogen. Many other great hip hop acts performing on the live music stage. Tickets/Info: 21+over, tickets are $15 to $30. JUNE 20 (8:30 PM) BONNIE & THE BANG BANG, The Partisan Bonnie & The Bang Bang return to the Partisan with the Record Winter. BTBB has an energy-packed live performance with their folk/rock sound. Tickets/Information: 21-and-over / Facebook JUNE 21 (1 PM) ACxDC & SEX PRISONER, Tigers & Daggers A rare daytime show featuring two high-powered hardcore bands L.A. and Arizona repsetively. Information: Free show / Facebook JUNE 27 (6 PM) PROSPECTORS TAP TAKEOVER, 17th Street Public House Six-tap takeover by Mariposa’s Prospectors Brewery. Beer will be served until the beer runs out. Information: Facebook JUNE 27 (8 PM) COMEDY JAM, Merced Theatre Perico Productions Presents Comedy Jam featuring Loni Love also Edwin San Juan and Jill-Michele Melean. Hosted by Butch Escobar. Tickets/Info: $20-$25 /

RECURRING EVENTS MONDAYS AND THURSDAYS (6:30 PM) VELO CLUB CYCLING, 10 East Tap Room & Kithen Velo Club group rides (Typically 20-27 miles) TUESDAYS (9 PM) BRAINGAZM, The Partisan Gather some of your smartest friends and head on over to play a game of Braingazm. Booze Bonus Starts at 8pm: $20 spent equals 25 real points in the game.

THURSDAYS AND FRIDAYS (5:30 to 9 PM) SUMMER NIGHTS, Vista Ranch and Cellars Get away from it all and come out to Highway 140 for some family fun. Dinner, live entertainment, wine and beer are all available. THURSDAY-SATURDAY (10 PM to 2 AM) HIP HOP DJ & HOOKAH, Red Brick Bar & Grill Enjoy dinner 5 to 10pm and join us for our nightclub hours from 10pm-2am. Enjoy an outdoor hookah garden and bar. For bottle service call (209) 667-1561.

WEDNESDAYS (8 PM SIGNUPS, 9PM START) KARAOKE, The Partisan Great voice or not, jump on stage and have a good time. FRIDAYS (7 PM) Arrive early to sign up and have a few beers before sing- XL FRIDAYS, Chandaliers Club ing your heart out. Enjoy drinks, hookah and dance while DJ Exotic spins. THURSDAYS (6 to 8 PM) LIVE SAX, J&R Tacos Listen ot the amazing sounds of Abe while you enjoy your dinner. Great food, local beer and amazing music.

SATURDAYS (7 AM) FLEA and FARMERS MARKET, Merced Fairgrounds Find hidden treasures and take some locally grown food back to your dinner table every Saturday.

JUNE 20 (6 PM) FIRESTONE TAP TAKEOVER, 17th Street Public House Six-tap takeover by Firestone Walker Brewery. Beer will be served until the beer runs out. Information: Facebook

CAFE AT THE BUG Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

0Fresh comfor t foods with vegan & vegetarian options 0We source local, organic or sustainable when sensible 0Famil y style dining 0Folk/Bluegra ss live music 0Right ab abo ve a Health Spa 0Excel lent for special e vents

Worth the Trip

Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resor t 6979A Highway 140 Midpines, CA 95345 For dail y menu go to Facebook or 866.826.7108 x6






Thrifty Summer


For more information, or to interact with the DLM Style Stalkers email:


PAGE 1 Vintage lace dress and purple slip with combat boots. PAGE 2 Blue geometric pleated skirt, mint crop top, and vibrant strapped sandals. PAGE 3 TOP LEFT: Yellow short sleeve cardigan, motif print shirt with black capri pants. Mexico weave travel bag. BOTTOM LEFT: Red floral dress, levi denim vest, gold lace scarf and a embellished sombrero hat. RIGHT: Marching hat from Miranda’s Thrift Store, black blazer, lace shirt and embroidery skirt with thigh-high boots.

c r e a t i v e

w w w. t h o m a h aw kc r e a t i v e . c o m



PHOTO BY DAN HONG: From left, Ronnie Daily, Stephen Mouillesseaux, Noelle Chandler, Rob Hypes and Melissa Beckwith rehearse for Playhouse Merced’s production of “Noises Off,” which kicks off its three-week run on June 6.

Noises Off

Playhouse farce brings the drama of backstage front and center

Words by Matt Robinson


nyone involved in theater can tell you that what’s happening backstage at any given show is often times much more exciting than what the audience sees. Real people are their own characters, juxtapose that with the characters they’re playing, interesting comparisons can be made. 16

English playwright Michael Frayn notices this in 1970 while watching a performance of a play he’d written from backstage. He was inspired from there to pen “Noises Off”, a comedic farce about a theatre director and his cast struggling to put on a play despite the actors’ personal problems and strange interwoven relationships. Veteran Theatre

director Dusty Guthier will be directing that third person that is the person who the Playhouse Merced production after auditioned for the show. So essentially stepping away from the theater for 13 years. you’re talking to three different people.” Guthier has his work cut out for him, as Guthier says “Noises Off” has been on his “Noises Off” is a notoriously difficult show bucket list of plays to direct. He seems to to direct. want to return from his hiatus with guns “I went to Cal Poly. Degreed in theatre blazing. arts and speech, I’ve run my own theatre “I was ready to direct again, and I figured before. This show is probably the most if I was going to direct again I might as well difficult show I’ve ever directed,” says do the hardest thing I could find,” he says. Guthier. “This show is based on timing. Despite the inherent difficulty of the There’s so much action going on. It’s a show Guthier is confident that the show physical and timing show for the actors. will connect well with a Merced audience. The set moves in two directions.” “If they don’t walk out of the theater Set director Cory Strauss built the set of holding their stomachs because they’ve “Noises Off” off-site. It rotates a full 180 laughed so hard, they’re probably dead. degrees so the audience sees the set of the play-within-the-play in the first act as the cast rehearses, and then rotates to reveal what’s happening backstage during a performance in the second act and then rotates again in the Third. Sitting in on a rehearsal of the play is entertaining in it’s own right and enough to make you dizzy. The first act involves a director watching his PHOTO BY DAN HONG: Melissa Beckwith (left), Rob Hypes (right) reactors rehearse and hearse Playhouse Merced’s production of”Noises Off,” which opens June 6. constantly interrupting with corrections. So there’s the actor playing the director giving his notes on the play-within-the-play and then This show is so full of comedy,” he says. Guthier interjecting to give his notes on the “I think they’re going to grab a hold of this play itself. Not to mention actors playing a and this will be a show they’re going to talk character in the play within a play and then about for a long time.” breaking character to play the actors they Shortly after I spoke with him, Guthier are playing and then breaking again to act announced, to the delight of his cast, that like themselves. “Noises Off” has been extended and will “Sometimes the cast isn’t sure who to play a third weekend rather than the usual listen to,” Guthier joked. “It’s interesting two. because the actors really have to play two “Noises Off” will play the weekend of characters, and they have to drop voices. June 6-15 with added dates on June 20th You’ve got to be able to distinguish if and 22nd. For more information, call (209) they’re acting now or not. Then there’s 725-8587 or visit THEDLM.COM



CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: Dust Bowl Brewing founders Brett Tate (left) and Don Oliver (Right).

How Craft Beer Saved Main Street Pioneers of the new beverage culture are reimagining the downtown landscape and riding a tidal wave of success Words by Tom Price


itting in an empty Dust Bowl Brewing Tap Room in Downtown Turlock, company founder Brett Tate is all smiles. The alwaysbustling home base for Valley craft beer drinkers is an hour from opening its doors for the day, but the cooks and servers are scurrying around making final preparations. Tate is sharing the origin story of Dust Bowl Brewing and its signature brew — Hops of Wrath. He talks about starting the brewery in a small warehouse with his friend and brewmaster Don Oliver, he glows talking about his beers’ incredible consumer demand and he laughs when talking about their 17,000-barrell brewery that is scheduled to open in 2015. Throughout the conversation he periodically shakes his head and scratches his chin — it’s as though even he can’t believe the success of his dream. > THEDLM.COM


CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: Server delivers a flight of beer samples at Dustbowl Brewing’s tap room in Downtown Turlock. 20

“Exceeded by far. I grew up in this town and I never knew this town was capable of responding the way it has to this,” says Tate. “It’s timing, it’s momentum; its people are open to it now. The whole craft beer movement is all over now.” Beer business isn’t just big in Turlock. Tate’s Dust Bowl Brewing is part of an army of breweries across California that are flooding the craft market. And that growing demand has opened the door for local pubs and restaurants to tap into this new demographic — the craft beer drinker. According to a Brewery Association study, as of March 17, 2014 there have been 413 brewery openings (3015 microbreweries, 109 brewpubs) in the United States and currently, craft brewers provide an estimated 110,273 jobs in the United States. locations in Downtown Turlock that carry craft beer Big changes on as a staple include Café 235, Main Street the Vintage Lounge and 10 Need proof of the impact East Kitchen and Tap House, of the beer and wine boom? which altered its business Look no further than the model in recent years to downtowns in Merced and become a major hub for Turlock. In Turlock, Dust craft beer drinkers. 10 East Bowl opened its tasting currently features more room in an empty building than 20 draft beer selections on East Main Street three from craft breweries all over years ago. Since its opening, the country. the once vacant building is “Let me say that 10 East chalk full of retail stores basically has done an and offices and has been a outstanding job of changing magnet to businesses in the their business model. neighboring blocks. They have opened up new “The story is what you see avenues for craft beer. They downtown here,” says Tate. have bought in, you know “It has absolutely changed they have just bought in to the face of East Main Street.” the whole scene.” In addition to Dust Bowl, Down the 99 in

Merced, there has been a transformation on Main Street as well, thanks to a couple businesses catering to the craft beer and wine drinkers. The 17th Street Public House and 510 Bistro both opened within the last year with an eye on the craft beer drinking public. Vanessa Hofmann, one of the quartet of owners at the Public House that includes RC and Joey Essig and Tim Williams says that the attraction goes well beyond the great taste of the beer. She says it’s also a lot of fun. “The attraction is that anything goes. When there are constantly new flavors to try and creative ways a product has been > THEDLM.COM


PHOTO BY TOM PRICE: Beer selection at 510 Bistro in Downtown Merced.

developed, it almost becomes addictive. Craft breweries and brew pubs have allowed for this,” says Hofmann, who credits the craft community for lighting the fire for under their upstart business. “We provided a destination, the menu, the product, but really, it is the beer lovers, the pleasure seekers, the risk takers, the wine experts, and the inquisitive that have created the community in such a unique way. They are 22

the ones getting our name out there. They are the ones banning together to try that crazy beer with some weird name and crazy flavors that only seems right to purchase and share.” Two blocks down the street in Bob Hart Square is 510 Bistro who has brought life to the signature space that was left dormant in 2013 when Fernando’s Bistro closed its doors. The restaurant, which features a sidebar called After 5,

opened with a dedication to the growing craft beer scene. Co-owner Robert Matsuo says they have seen extraordinary growth in the first year and they attribute most of that to Merced’s growing craft community. “We honestly didn’t think that Merced was going to take off the way it has and we went with eight taps instead of 15 or something like that, but the demand has been such that we should have gone bigger,” says

Matsuo. “It’s double, totally double what we thought we would do. At first we were doing OK, but when the Public House really took off, I think more people started going for these beers. The Public House really put Merced on the map for the craft beers and now there is more of a draw with the distributors.” Matsuo says Main Street’s bookend beer bars have a great relationship and that there is almost a playful atmosphere with the beer offerings. “It’s great, I think we are both enlightening Merced,” says Matsuo.

area code and year-to-date in 2014, sales in Merced Country are up 73 percent. He adds that sales in 2013 compared to 2012 were up 52 percent in Merced County. “For us in the business, we are dumfounded,” says Aleman. “More than anything Merced had nowhere to go but up with craft beer. For a long time you couldn’t find anything outside of the big breweries. Even the craft breweries in the area were saying that nobody drinks craft beer down there.” They were wrong. Aleman says that the success of 17th

“It’s an amazing thing. Everyday we look at the numbers and the things that are happening in the market and it’s just unreal ... for us in the business, we are dumfounded.” — Dave Aleman, Craft Beer Manager at Delta Sierra Beverage Company “We play off different sides. One week they may do a crazier beer and we will go for something more mellow, then the next week we may try something really crazy — it all balances out.”

Street Public House and 510 Bistro and the craft-heavy offerings has breweries and distributors anxious to enter the Merced market. Hofmann says they always believed in Merced and just kept to a very simple The numbers game formula. No matter what statistic you look at, “Good beer and good wine. Really, that the growth of the craft beer market is was our initial vision for 17th Street, “ mindboggling. says Hofmann. “We knew that the vision In 2013 the industry expanded 18 percent was something that would have to grow by volume and 20 percent by dollars organically overtime, but if we created a compared to growth in 2012 of 15 percent great atmosphere, stuck to our vision of by volume and 17 percent by dollars, good beer and wine, that ultimately, with according to Brewers Association statistics. the help of the community, our vision “It’s an amazing thing. Everyday we would take root and the seed would sprout.” look at the numbers and the things that are happening in the market and it’s just Local growth unreal,” says Dave Aleman, Craft Beer The list is growing. Manager at Delta Sierra Beverage Company. The number of breweries in the area “A few years back it was unheard of that you is rapidly growing. In addition to Dust would go to a bar or restaurant and they Bowl — Sandude Brewing Co. in Turlock, didn’t carry any domestic brands. Now it’s Prospectors Brewing Company in everywhere.” Mariposa, Tioga Sequoia Brewing Company Aleman says that Delta Sierra represents in Fresno and Snowshoe Brewing Company more than 20 craft beer suppliers in the 209 in Arnold have all jumped on the craft > THEDLM.COM


PHOTO BY DAN HONG: Six of 18 draft beer taps at the 17th Street Public House in Downtown Merced.

beer wave and have offerings available in Merced and Turlock. Most of these breweries have had rapid success during the craft boom, expanding their distribution and opening tap rooms to reach the masses. Dust Bowl opened their tap room in Downtown Turlock three years ago and are serving more than 120,000 patrons per year. The room seats only 80. “To be honest we started very humbly in a warehouse condo unit, didn’t know where it was going. We were part of something that was much bigger — the craft beer scene,” says Tate. “You grind, you just grind it out and five years later you look back and you think wow we did something here.” 24

Tate says Dust Bowl has created such a demand locally and throughout California that their current facilities are nowhere near meeting the needs of the consumers. He says the opening of their massive regional brewery that can expand its production to upwards of 40,000 barrels per year is merely trying to keep up with the demand. “Everybody knows we are dedicated to the craft still. We are not so big we can’t make quality beer consistently. We are just growing with the demand,” says Tate. “We will see where it goes. Nobody knows where it’s going to go. We will need all the support we can get locally. We are going to dive deeper into our local markets with more bottled

product.” Hofmann says the success of the local breweries only bolsters their position by association. She says their creativity and quality is what gives the Public House their character and they are lucky to have these creative brewers nearby. “It’s breweries like Dust Bowl, Tioga Sequoia, Prospectors, Snowshoe and the hundreds of other breweries that keeps places like us on our toes and keeps the craft beer community growing,” says Hofmann. “A lot of folks who come in have not had the opportunity to have the Dust Bowl experience, and it is those people that we want leave our place feeling like they got the best of both worlds. It is also great to

“It’s breweries like Dustbowl, Tioga Sequoia, Prospectors, Snowshoe and the hundreds of other breweries that keeps places like us on our toes.” — Vanessa Hofmann, co-owner of 17th Street Public House

have Dust Bowl regulars come in and be able to share their experience with other patrons. It is a mutual relationship that keeps the craft beer community growing.” There seems to be no stopping this tidal wave that is the craft beer movement. The retail value of craft beer sales in 2013 was $14.3 billion, according to the Brewery Association. “Everybody is standing up and taking notice of it. Big brewers are paying attention to it. Could craft beer take over the big breweries? It could, but it’s not there yet,” says Aleman. “Now,

as a distributor and as a company you have to buy into it. You can’t think it’s another passing phase. You have to get on and ride the wave.” For Tate, he’s not thinking about taking on the big boys, he’s just trying to bring his beer to the masses in California who are looking for the Dust Bowl brand on shelves at Save Mart and Costco. “We are not looking for world domination, we are just looking for a little piece of the pie,” says Tate. “We are just one state, there’s 49 others.”










PHOTOS BY MATTHEW MACLEOD: Peter Howell, founder of Bobcat Brewing.

Bobcat Brewing Words by Tom Price


hen Peter Howell talks about archaic German hops and mash tuns it sounds like Steve jobs talking about motherboards and circuits. The 23-year-old owner of startup Bobcat Brewery has the sales pitch down and now all that’s left is the ultimate test — can he deliver the goods? > THEDLM.COM



Thus far Bobcat Brewery has produced 72 barrels of beer, showcasing their wheat and red ales. While the brews have had some traction at places like 510 Bistro and the Cue Spot downtown, he says there is still more to come from this little experiment that started in his rented house as a UC Merced student. Howell doesn’t hide his ambition … at all. He wants to build a brewery right here in Merced and he wants to make a cream ale that will rival beer behemoths like Keystone and Coors Light. “My biggest goal in my life before I came here (UC Merced) was to live on my own island and drink margaritas,” says Howell, who is on a one-year academic leave to pursue the project. “Now, I want to buy some land and build my own brewery. This is as

needed to make really good beer. “Let me be honest, my favorite beer is Keystone Light, there really is no smoother beer,” says Howell. “Keystone is smooth and it’s drinkable. It was the first beer I ever shot gunned (let us not forget he is a member of a fraternity). I want to brew a beer that is all that but better. I want people to drink my beer and wonder why they would drink anything else.” He says that magic bullet might come in the form his cream ale, which he has yet to produce in barrels. “That cream ale I want to be our flagship ale,” he says. “A golden ale that is so good that anyone will want to drink it.” For now, Howell is hawking his 72 barrels and planting solid roots in the community.

“I want to buy some land and build my own brewery. This is as good a place as any. I want to be active in this community, it seems like people here really stick together and manage to have that small town feel. ” — Peter Howell, Founder of Bobcat Brewing

good a place as any. I want to be active in this community, it seems like people here really stick together and manage to have that small town feel.” Howell, Santa Rose native, says he cut his teeth brewing beer with a homemade rig. He says he and members of his Sigma Chi fraternity spent many-a-night drinking failed recipes at his rented ranch home in Merced. Eventually though, he says, he started to take things a little more seriously. “I would go back to my hometown and talk to the owner of our local brewery supply store,” says Howell. “Every time I went back I would stay for hours and he would give me free lessons. It was amazing.” His hobby turned to a craft and before long he had true workman’s knowledge of the process and the types of ingredients

He has found a supporter in Merced County Mutlticultural Chamber of Commerce founder John Cardenas, who opened doors for him with the Stockton brewery. Both the Bobcat brews — The Prarie Lynx Witbier and Wildcat Red Ale, are currently available at The Vista Ranch and Cellars’ Summer Nights. Summer Nights is a weekly gathering with great food and wine, live music and now … Bobcat Brewery beer. “I’m really excited about being out there,” says Howell, who adds that he has watched his two kegs at 510 Bistro and two more at the Cue Spot all tap out quickly. “I’m really happy with what has happened. But for right now I’m still a sales man.” Like it always was with Jobs, it will be exciting to see what Howell brews up next. THEDLM.COM


CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: The Vista Ranch and Cellars wine Tasting Room is open 11am to 6pm daily.

The Vista

Highway 140 winery much more than the grape Words by Tom Price


ost wine businesses start with the grape. The Vista Ranch and Cellars started with a lush 20-acre property, two powerful agricultural families and one simple idea — to build something amazing for Merced and Yosemite travelers. Located on the Westgate corridor to Yosemite on Highway 140, The Vista wasn’t always destined for the wine business. When the families of Stephanie Marchini and Renae De Jager decided to join forces and buy the property in 2012, they figured they would use their vast resources to enter the agri-tourism and hospitality trade. It wasn’t until they met with a wine consultant did they decide to add winery to their ambitions. 30

“It is nice to have a local winery with quality wines ... The Vista has an excellent selection for a small winery. Many wineries I have visited are either heavy in reds, whites or sweets. The Vista has wine for every palate.” — Michelle Comer, Vista Ranch and Cellars customer

“When we bought the place we were not even sure we wanted to go into the wine business,” says De Jager. “We had event and agri-tourism experience, but no knowledge of winemaking. We brought in a wine consultant and she told us that most times she meets with people that have a winery but nothing else and that we were the first people she ever consulted that had everything we needed but the winery.” Despite little working knowledge, De Jager says they didn’t tread lightly into the wine business. They carefully selected 10 varietal wines to be bottled and branded by the Vista. She says in a couple years they will be harvesting their own grapes and getting even more involved in the winemaking process. De Jager says the wines have been extremely successful and in some cases — like with the Highway 140 series that features a pinot grigio, zinfandel and a red — they have been flying off the shelves. She says that the Tasting Room and wine options pair perfectly with their original agri-tourism and event-based business model. “It is nice to have a local winery with quality wines,” says Michelle Comer, a selfdescribed frequent visitor to The Vista. “The Vista offers an excellent selection for a small winery. Many wineries I have visited are either heavy in reds, whites or sweets. The Vista has a wine for every palate. “I buy their wine because I like to support local businesses and I love to drink wine. It is a win, win.” In addition to being a bright spot for travelers along the Highway 140 route to

Yosemite, the Vista has become a favorite hangout for locals on Thursday and Friday nights during the summer. For three years the Vista has opened its doors to locals during the summer with a fun-filled night of brick-oven baked pizza, live music entertainment and … of course, wine. “It has been very successful,” says De Jager. “It’s grown so fast that Stephanie and I are on a big learning curve. We are just trying to make everybody happy.” If early numbers are any indication, they are doing just that. On opening weekend of Summer Nights in May, De Jager says nearly 300 people showed up for the festivities. “Summer nights at the Vista are great. The menu always includes locally sourced food items and of course their wine,” says Comer. I have been out there several times. The Vista is beautiful and the staff is always very friendly. You feel very connected to Merced being surrounded by agriculture and sitting next to the Santa Fe Railroad and Highway 140.” Marchini says she is proud of what they have built with the Vista. She says she began wanting to participate in agri-tourism but has found so much more in what they have created. “You know, it’s just being local and having a venue where people can gather and celebrate,” says Marchini. “Loving the Sierras and knowing how many people come through here, it’s about how can we make Merced look great.” The Summer Nights run 5:30pm to 9 p.m. every Thursday and Friday through September 26. For more information on the events and Vista wines, visit THEDLM.COM



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fall fest 2014

enjoy live music spirits




Join us at Bob Hart Square where local Merced restaurants will share their best bites

september 26, 2014 6pm - 9pm

taste of


Your support will help bring an ENT Navigation System to our community For more information contact the Mercy Foundation at 209.564.4200

Single Ticket Price


$50.00 each

$500 - $5,000

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DLM (June)  

The Beer & Wine Issue

DLM (June)  

The Beer & Wine Issue