New brewery coming to downtown

Simply Brewing Co. microbrewery taproom will be open to families, live music similar to Barrelhouse

VISALIA – Opening a bar during a pandemic might not be the best option, but it is at least an option for one local homebrewer who has finally been granted a permit in downtown.

Justin Cate, a local paramedic who has been home brewing his own beer for the better part of two decades, has been given the green light to open his brewery Simply Brewing Co. at 609 E Main St. in the microbrewery district in downtown Visalia.

According to paperwork filed with the city, Simply Brewing Co. will only serve its own beers including ales, lagers and apple ales and will distribute its beers to local restaurants and stores. The 3,000 square foot brewery will be able to accommodate up to 95 people indoors. The brewery will be open seven days per week from 11 a.m. to midnight but only until 10 p.m. for patrons under the age of 21.

Cate could not be reached for comment as of press time, but did state the following in paperwork he filed with the city, “Our tasting room will become a preferred destination for local craft beer enthusiast, first responders and families because of our relaxed atmosphere and the active beer making processes, all done on site.”

Normally a brewery opening in a microbrewery district does not need a conditional use permit, but the brewery wanted to allow families and offer live music. People under the age of 21 are allowed into a bar if the bar has a Type 23 alcohol permit. Specific to microbreweries and micro-wineries, Type 23 permits allow a non-retail, non-restaurant micro brewery or brew pub that produces less than 60,000 barrels of beer per year for draft purchases at a taproom and produces bottles for sale by retailers. Unlike other ABC licenses, type 23 taprooms allow people under the age of 21 without providing food or non-alcoholic drinks for its customers.

Currently, Barrelhouse is the only type 23 licensed taproom in the microbrewery district that encompasses the eastern portion of downtown between Santa Fe Street and Ben Maddox Way. Kids can be seen playing a game of cornhole as parents enjoy craft brews while waiting in line for a food truck in the lawn patio area behind the building on Main Street. Teens often drink sodas next to parents with pints while listening to live music.

In addition to restrictions on the amount of beer it can produce to retain its microbrewery status, the City of Visalia requires that Type 23 taprooms only allow people under the age of 21: If they are accompanied by an adult at all times; offer games, activities, non-alcoholic beverages and snack foods; devote at least 20% of their indoor area to games and activities; as well as prohibit children from being at the business after 10 p.m. and from sitting at the bar or serving counter.

Simply Brewing Company will also have games, activities, non-alcoholic beverages and snack foods suitable to all ages. The outdoor area will contain picnic tables and outdoor areas for table games, board games and corn hole, as well as providing patron access to occasional food trucks parked within the patio area.

“Although there are no plans to install a kitchen and/or prepare their own food, Simply Brewing Company will on occasion have food trucks on-site and at all times permit patrons to bring in outside food similar to the Barrelhouse Taproom operation,” Cate stated.

The commission approved the brewery’s permit on 24 conditions, many of which dealt with their request to have live entertainment. Deejays are not permitted and amplified live music is limited to between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. The permit was approved in a 3-1 vote by the Planning Commission. Commissioner Bret Taylor was absent.

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