Dust Bowl Founder Creating New Ties to Alma Mater

February 17, 2013

Brett Tate has taken a circuitous route from his time as a CSU Stanislaus student to his budding second career as founder of Turlock’s Dust Bowl Brewing Company, a journey that included nearly two decades of teaching various subjects to students at three different area high schools and 22 years coaching sports at even more schools.

The Turlock native and Turlock High School graduate now runs one of Turlock’s fastest-growing businesses. Dust Bowl began brewing in 2009, opened its downtown taproom in 2011 and recently purchased property in town to expand its brewing capacity. Last year, the company released new bottled versions of some of its most popular beers, with more to come.

Tate admits to being slightly behind the curve on the recent craft beer craze, but he also recognizes the opportunity that exists in an area where the industry has yet to really take off.

“Growing up in Turlock, I never would have thought a business like this would be as successful as it is,” Tate said. “There was a different feel in this town 30 to 40 years ago.

“There’s a definite void of craft beer in this region. We’re trying to fill that void and create excitement in the industry, from Bakersfield to Sacramento. Our goal is to be the craft beer of the Central Valley.”

After graduating from Turlock High, Tate played baseball at Modesto Junior College and Grossmont College in El Cajon before transferring to CSU Stanislaus. He played for two years with the Warriors, using up the remainder of his athletic eligibility in 1985, and then finished off his bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1986.

“To be honest, I went to school to play sports; that was my mindset,” Tate said. “And I’m so glad that I did. I wouldn’t have gone as far as I did in my education without sports. CSU Stanislaus has always been looked at as a commuter school, but I had a good experience there because I involved myself deeper into the university.”

Now a local business owner, Tate has found a renewed appreciation for his alma mater and new ways to connect. He’s developed a strong relationship with Director of Athletics Michael Matoso and a partnership with the Warrior athletics program. And he’s encouraged by President Joseph Sheley’s approach and his commitment to building stronger ties between the university and the community.

Tate has even recruited “local talent” to Dust Bowl. Brandon Ramirez interned in the company’s brewery lab while a student at CSU Stanislaus. After graduating in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in biology, Ramirez was hired on full-time as Dust Bowl’s quality assurance technician.

“We feel like CSU Stanislaus is on the road to making some major improvements and trying to get better,” Tate said. “A lot of people have done great things out there, and as a business, you want to align yourself with people who are doing great things.

“I went to the university, and I grew up around it. Having a university in your town creates opportunities for students, alumni and businesses alike, and we’re proud to be part of the positive momentum at CSU Stanislaus.”