BarrelHouse Brewing Co. Opens in Visalia
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Bringing it Home
Story by Jordan Venema
Having grown up in Lemoore, Jason Carvalho recalls driving to Visalia and cruising up and down Mooney, or coming with family to dine on special occasions. Though he left Lemoore for the Central Coast and never settled in Visalia, per se, he’s finally making a homecoming of sorts.
A co-owner of BarrelHouse Brewing Co., Carvalho has turned down opportunities to open taprooms in both San Francisco and Los Angeles, opting rather for greener pastures – more specifically, along East Main Street. “This is us,” says Carvalho. “This is where we grew up.”
Since BarrelHouse opened in 2013, the brewery has not only become wildly popular in its hometown of Paso Robles, but also fast expanded, opening a taproom in San Luis Obispo in 2016, and now its third location in Visalia, which opened in mid July.
It wasn’t long before BarrelHouse officially brewed its first batch that Carvalho began brewing with friends out of his garage.
“Basically, I started brewing beer with my neighbor about six years ago,” explains Carvalho, who says they’d hang out during barbecues talking about craft beers, then decided to brew together.
“We made our first batch and it was mediocre at best, but good enough to drink,” Carvalho says with a laugh. Then they brewed another, and soon Carvalho was buying his own equipment. It was like cooking, he says – experimenting with new recipes, trial and error.
It didn’t take long before the garage essentially became a brewery. Carvalho says his wife, well, “she wasn’t stoked about that,” so he built a second garage behind the house to accommodate his growing hobby.
According to Carvalho, brewing was “just a great excuse to get together.” He and his friends would brew, then 30 days later “we’d bottle it, go surfing, the wives would hang out.” Of course, he adds, this was a time before kids.
Soon they began getting requests to provide beer, even kegs, for weddings and parties. Brewing was becoming more work than Carvalho expected, but he also thought: why not make this an actual job?
He began searching for a large brewing system and found one north of Toronto, Canada, “out in the middle of nowhere.” It was the exact system Carvalho had been looking for, so he contacted the brewery, flew up, and purchased it.
“Basically, overnight, we went from brewing five gallons at a time to brewing 800-, 1,000-gallon batches.” Four years later, and they now brew about 8,000 to 10,000 gallons annually.
As BarrelHouse’s popularity grew, so did the area in which it built its brewery, an industrial area of Paso Robles known as Tin City. “It is becoming famous throughout the state, even nation – it’s becoming really well known for beer, for wine,” explains Carvalho, though people had warned him not to open a brewery there.
But they created a destination, and now they hope to do the same in Visalia by transforming an underused area of Main Street into something vibrant.
“There’s so much potential here, and there’s already a great culture that’s been established in downtown Visalia, so we hope to add to that,” says Carvalho, “and bring more resources and places for people to go.”
At the very least, Carvalho knows they want to build upon what they’ve already done in Paso Robles and more recently in San Luis Obispo, where they have 16 beers on tap. In Visalia, Carvalho plans to open with 18 to 20 beers on tap, as well as kombucha, root beer and cold pressed coffee. “So if you come here with your friends and family and you’re not a beer drinker, you can still hang out,” he says.
BarrelHouse won’t brew in Visalia, and they will only serve BarrelHouse beers, but they also intend to barrel-age select beers in local citrus orchards.
They also are renovating the space, a former antique shop, with a mind for live music, which they will host every Friday and Saturday evenings, with one cover show a month.
They have built a green room and proper stage, and Carvalho says they’ll bring in “guys you hear on the radio, up-and-coming hot artists.”
Though BarrelHouse will not serve its own food, it welcomes outside vendors, and will host food trucks in the spacious back garden.
“You can bring pizza or a Philly cheesesteak from across the street,” says Carvalho. “And there are phenomenal food trucks here. Let them do what they’re good at.”
The outdoor garden will have a counter to serve beer, a shade structure crafted from Pismo Beach timbers, misters, picnic tables, and a 1946 International flatbed truck for a stage. Games like cornhole will be outdoors, and pinball, a 22-foot shuffleboard and board games indoors.
Ultimately, BarrelHouse hopes to create a place where people can come to enjoy good beer and good company, and have a different experience every time. It’s an experience that doesn’t sound unlike the way he describes those days when he first started brewing: “It’s experimenting, it’s adventure, not knowing how it’s going to turn out, and then sharing it with your friends.”
BarrelHouse Brewing Co. • 521 E. Main Street, Visalia
(559) 713-6690 • www.barrelhousebrewing.com
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