It’s been eight months since Clovis-based brewery 559 Local moved into its tasting room on 4th Street in Old Town Clovis and business has been booming ever since.
The family-owned and operated brewery is the brainchild of Rhett Williams, who learned how to create craft beers from brewmasters in Germany when he was a teenager, said his mother, Cheryl Williams.
“I’ve been involved with foreign exchange student programs for a long time, and Rhett used to love to go to Europe with me. Of course, in Europe, you can drink when you’re 16,” she said, adding that when he was 17 he stayed with some families in Germany and “when I would come looking for him he could never be found because he was hanging out with German brewmasters.”
Rhett went on to become the first operating brewer in Clovis and had a hand in helping the city rewrite ordinances to do so, he said.
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All 559 Local beers are brewed and bottled — with their signature American flag bottlecaps — in Clovis. Besides the tasting room, beer aficionados can purchase the beer in local stores such as Save Mart, Costco, Food4Less and Vons, Cheryl said.
Cheryl’s husband, Randy Williams, helps with the bottle and label design; each label is printed with the story behind that specific brew.
Raisin Farmer Ale was created to pay homage to Cheryl’s farming family. Her father, Alvin Gomes, owned a 40-acre ranch in Caruthers and grew raisin grapes for Sun-Maid, Cheryl explained.
Gomes asked Rhett to brew a beer with a raisin influence, Cheryl said.
“I told Rhett ‘Dad’s 91, just do what he says,’” she said with a laugh; thus, Raisin Farmer Ale was born.
Since then, Rhett has brewed his beer using other Valley ag influences, such as Wawona Peach Ale and Wawona Strawberry Ale using fruits from local farmers. Fig Garden Stout is made with local Mission figs; and Kuppa Joy Stout came about from a partnership with the local coffee shop.
“It’s about showing what we have here in Fresno and Clovis, actually the entire 559 area code,” Rhett said. “We’re showcasing what is made in the Valley.”
The tasting room is open from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, 2 to 8 p.m. Saturday and — only during the month of December — 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday to coincide with the horse-drawn carriage rides through Old Town Clovis, Cheryl said.
Live music is performed between 7 and 9 p.m. on Fridays.
All of 559 Local’s beers are available on tap, and a “wheel of fun” can be purchased to sample all eight brews in 4-ounce glasses, Cheryl said. Gift baskets and gift cards are available, and a limited selection of brewing supplies can be purchased in-store.
The tasting room will soon introduce and pour local wines and is already serving German bratwurst, Cheryl said. More food will be added to the menu in coming months, along with new beers.
“A new series will be released in January,” Rhett said, although details are being kept secret for now.