BarrelHouse Brewing Co. is planning to open a taproom in Visalia.
Hometown connections are paving the way for the well-known Paso Robles brewery that has beer on tap all over this Valley. Co-owners Kevin Nickell and Jason Carvalho grew up in Lemoore.
There is also a Visalia-themed beer in the works.
The taproom is scheduled to open in late spring or early summer. It will be at 521 E. Main St. in the city’s new brewery district on the edge of downtown.
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This will be BarrelHouse’s third location, with the brewery and beer garden in Paso Robles and a “speakeasy” taproom in San Luis Obispo.
Visalia seemed like the logical next choice, says co-owner Carvalho.
“We have tons of family and friends there still and we go back there often,” he says of the Valley. “We grew up going to Visalia, cruising Mooney Boulevard.”
The pair still run Carvalho Construction in Hanford.
The taproom is taking over a 1923 Buick dealership that has been home to different businesses over the years, including a foundry. It has brick walls, skylights and exposed wood trusses.
It will have 20 beers on tap, including its popular Sunny Daze citrus blonde ale and its mango IPA. A cicerone (a certified beer expert similar to a sommelier) who has worked in the Paso Robles brewery will oversee the Visalia location.
The taproom will have 6,000 square feet of indoor space with pinball, Skee-Ball and shuffleboard games. Another 6,000 square feet of outdoor space will make up the beer garden with room for live music.
It won’t serve food, but will have space for a food truck to pull up and serve pizza or tri-tip sandwiches, for example. Customers are also welcome to bring in their own food.
Dogs and kids will be welcome.
“We’re not like a bar,” Carvalho says. “We don’t stay open late, we’re more about family and community.”
The taproom will eventually have a sour beer with a little bit of Visalia in it – literally.
Traditional sours are made with naturally occurring or “wild yeast” versus the commercial kind that’s used in other beers and highly controlled systems.
For the Visalia beer, the owners took a tank of the unfinished beer to the Visalia foothills and transferred it into a tank with an open top. They camped out for the night to let naturally occurring yeast land on the liquid.
Such wild yeast is more active in agricultural areas, Carvalho says. It lands on the liquid and grows, giving the beer a unique flavor.
“We had really good luck when we did it vineyards or fruit orchards” in the past, he says.
“We let the native wild Visalia yeast populate it,” Carvalho says. “This is the way beer used to be made thousand of years ago.”
Back at the brewery, the beer will be fermented with grapes from Visalia in oak barrels for a year or a year and a half.