559 Local, a beer tasting room, will soon open its doors in Old Town Clovis at the corner of Fourth Street and Pollasky, and a variety of Clovis brewed beers that feature Central Valley ingredients will be on tap.
Opening a tasting room has been a dream of brewmaster Rhett Williams since he first started brewing his 559 Beer a few years ago off Tollhouse Road in Clovis. He is happy to now see that dream become a reality. An opening date has not yet been set, but Williams plans to open the tasting room near the end of March.
“I have been wanting to bring something new into Old Town Clovis that will bring a new generation of responsible millennials that live in Fresno, Clovis, and the greater county, and would like to do something responsible instead of the normal going to a bar and drinking,” Williams said. “It’s not about a beer and self promotion, it’s about bringing something cool for the 559, for those young millennials. There aren’t a lot of places like that.”
The tasting room will feature a variety of Clovis brewed beers such as Raisin Farm Ale, Clovis Independence Ale, Wawona Peach Ale, and Bourbon Barrel Ale. There will also be specialty beers that are available only at the tasting room in order to make it a destination. A variety of non-alcoholic beverages will also be available on tap so that even those who don’t drink alcohol can enjoy a uniquely crafted beverage.
“All my beers are simple and farming based,” Williams said. “I learned ‘Keep It Simple’ from Coach Mosher (at Clovis West). Mosher has been a great supporter, both he and his wife. I wouldn’t be where I am if it hadn’t been for him in my high school years.”
Growing up in Clovis and attending Clovis schools, Williams has seen firsthand the importance of family in the community.
“There’s a reason I’m doing it in Old Town Clovis and not a strip mall,” Williams said. “There’s a branding of family atmosphere, and I love that building. There’s character to that building, it’s one of the oldest buildings down there.”
559 Beer was inspired by Williams’ grandfather, Alvin Gomes, who was a Sunmaid raisin farmer in Caruthers for more than 50 years. Gomes spirit is kept alive through many aspects of the business. An image of Gomes’ tractor is printed on every 559 Raisin Farm Ale bottle, and 559’s shirts are even his favorite color - red. Williams wants to keep this theme going, even in the new tasting room.
“I’m going to make it look like an old raisin farm, or at least my mom is,” Williams said, laughing. “It’s not just a product, it’s a family story. My grandfather had nothing and worked a million jobs every day. It’s that true American dream and putting that story on the shelf is a relatable story to people here. Doing something like that isn’t always taking the easiest path.”
559 Beer is a family run business. It was Williams who first fell in love with beer-making while visiting Germany with his mother as a teen, but now every member of his family is involved in the business.
“We’ve had a lot of fun doing it as a family, but it’s a lot of work,” said Cheryl Gomes Williams, Rhett Williams’ mother.
“When you work with your family, we’re all genetically the same,” Williams said. “My dad will make decisions for me, I’ll make decisions, my mom will make decisions - you’re not second guessing yourself. It’s so much healthier, and it’s a huge thing that is lost now in so many businesses. We’re small and we’re going to stay small.”
Even though Williams wants to keep the business small, he is self-delivering 559 beer across the state from the central coast to the Sacramento area.
“It’s really cool, because the 559 in Clovis is getting out there in a broader spectrum,” Williams said. “Every beer I make is farmed here.”
“We’re taking the Central Valley everywhere,” Cheryl said.
However, back home in Clovis, Rhett and Cheryl hope to bring their neighbors closer together by doing what they can to benefit the community and holding fundraisers at 559 Local.
“I learned a lot from the schools here, and that’s why I’m here in Clovis,” Williams said. “I want to give back to that.”
The tasting room will be open four days a week with limited hours: 4-8 p.m., Wednesday through Friday, 2-8 p.m. on Saturdays.
Details: 559beer.com or (559) 473-1875.