Mad Duck Brewing NW Fresno: Fresnan Review

A quickass review of Mad Duck Craft Brewing Co’s new brewpub in NW Fresno: It’s cool.

There. There’s a quickass review.

Alright, a little more reviewing…

So, there are many areas of Fresno that are underserved, most certainly. Sometimes it feels like Fresno is only River Park, Downtown, Fig Garden Village, Tower, and Fashion Fair. If a place isn’t in one of those areas then it doesn’t exist. Small city ways.

NW Fresno has been begging for a place like Mad Duck, even if it didn’t know it. The new location is at the NE corner of Herndon & Marks (across from Taco Bell, behind the Starbucks and new Ampersand Ice Cream.

They picked a good spot.

It’s small, or at least feels small, in comparison to the Campus Point location. Before I saw it I was bummed that it was small. Small means more waiting for tables, in my eyes. While that may be true, I like the vibe the small gives. It feels more social and neighborhood than Campus Point.

The combination of the North West Fresno crowd and the Mad Duck brewpub atmosphere, if I could pick one band that could describe the vibe it would be Fleetwood Mac.

I can take or leave Fleetwood Mac but that feeling you get when you’re in a good mood, just starting to relax and forget life, you have a couple of beers in ya and the perfect part of a song comes on and you’re like “Yeah, man, this.” That is Mad Duck NW Fresno. Classic rock in new packaging.

The patio is big enough and cool but it’s not shaded properly. I don’t understand, in Fresno, if you have the budget to build a patio but don’t shade it properly, it makes zero sense. There were two people on the patio, huddled against the wall trying to bleed any full shade they could from the building and the only reason they were out there at all was the fact that they had a dog with them. So, hey, I guess they allow dogs on the patio if you were wondering.

Shade your patios properly, Fresno. In case you have not noticed, the sun is a bastard around here.

So the food seems to be the same as the Campus Point location, along with the beer. Since this location also has brewing equipment, I hope that each location will have its own beer. Meaning, one you can only get at THAT location. That would be cool for us beer geeks.

Mad Duck beer selection

If you’re wondering what the best beer they make is, I say it’s the Citra. And The NW Fresno location’s is very solid, so far. The almond brown and the “Dog Daze” are too bad either. Hope the guest taps start getting more interesting.

Overall, solid fun neighborhood place. Fresno needs more neighborhood spots, like ALL Fresno neighborhoods, and hopefully, this proves this part of NW Fresno deserves more. See ya there.

Where To Find Pliny The Elder in Fresno

Is there Russian River beer in Fresno? YES! Where can I find Pliny The Elder in Fresno? I’ll tell ya in a sec. But right now I just gotta yell something: “Fresno is finally a Russian River Brewing town!”

Only Russian River approved businesses and distributors (thank you Delta Pacific Beverage for being worthy) are allowed to carry Russian River beer. The major requirement being that the beer must always be refrigerated and cared for properly.

Here is where to find it in the Fresno area:

  • Goldstein’s – 1279 N. Wishon Ave
  • Maroa Shell – 902 E. Shields Ave
  • Hop PK – 820 Van Ness Ave
  • Spokeasy Public House – 1472 N. Van Ness
  • Gazebo Gardens – 3204 N Van Ness
  • Kunisama – 6825 N. Willow Ave
  • Whole Foods – 650 W. Shaw
  • Tap & Cellar – 317 W. Bedford
  • The Market – 7088 N. West
  • BC’s Pizza & Beer – 1315 Shaw Ave (Clovis)
  • MGA Liquor – 342 N. Clovis (Clovis)
  • Michaelangelo’s Pizzeria – 619 Woodworth Ave (Clovis)

Let me say it again because it’s damn awesome: Russian River Brewing Company beer is now available in Fresno.

We were the last major region in California to get it, but that is okay. It’s here now. The past is past, we are now a Russian River town and it is incredibly awesome.

If you’re wondering, “What the hell is the big damn deal about this “Pliny” guy and why is Russian River beer such a thing?” that is okay. You’re not a beer geek. Cool.

Santa Rosa’s Russian River Brewing is probably the greatest Beer Geek brewery of all time. Their IPA, Pliny The Elder, ushered in a whole style of beer called “West Coast IPA”. I consider the beer the Godfather of the modern IPA.

For a while there (if it isn’t still) Pliny was the number one most traded beer in the beer geek world. If a beer is heavily traded (shipped illegally to regions where a person can’t get the beer), that means it’s highly sought after – aka damn good.

Not only do we get the core Russian River beers now, we even get cool colab beers like the one Russian River and Karl Strauss did recently:

So rejoice, beer lovers, Fresno is now cool. Still waiting on somebody to open up that remote taproom though.

Fulton Street Party Is All Fresno Music Goodness!

Fulton Street Party set list 2018

Fulton Street Party! Glad that Tioga is around, otherwise this might not have happened.

The Fulton Street Party is Saturday, celebrating one year of traffic returning to Fulton. It won’t be the hullabaloo that was last year’s party.

But thankfully, Tioga Sequoia Brewing pushes for something to happen and is making a day out of it, highlighted by the Battle of the Bands style competition happening all day with all local acts.

The two “best” bands will win slots at next year’s Grizzly Fest.

This will be a great snapshot of the state of Fresno’s music scene and it’s free to check out. Gaze at the flyer above for set times. I definitely have a couple picked out already.

Tioga will also have super fresh Fulton Street IPA (nice and hazy) flowing all day along, with other things going on within the block surrounding Tioga’s Beer Garden. Including the main stage for bands in the lot across the street from TS.

Sounds like a damn fine day to me. Hope I see ya there!

Maybe I’ll finally check out Chicken Shack.

Pete’s Restaurant & Brewhouse Is Coming To Fresno

The Northern California brewpub chain, Pete’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, is coming to Fresno at The Marketplace.

That’s the drunk whispers I am hearing. Fresno is adding another brewpub style place to eat and drink and it’s called Pete’s Restaurant & Brewhouse.

I thought Pete’s was going to be on the empty pad along Herndon (near 99), next to the Target and the Panera. Thankfully, Fresnan reader, Redd, pointed out that it will be next to the new movie theater being built during phase two of construction:

It was rumored that Southgate Brewing in Oakhurst was going to open up a second location there but they are planning on building at Avenue 12 & Highway 41.

When Does Pete’s Restaurant & Brewhouse Open?

Summer. Summer of 2019. That’s all I got for now. Things change I suppose. Fall through. Get drunk, stumble around, knock over a few street signs, wake up in the morning and forget it signed a three-year lease. But it seems it will happen.

What Is This Pete’s Brewhouse All About?

I had never heard of this place before but they have 13 freaking locations. They all seem to center around Sacramento but they don’t actually have a Sacramento location.

What Kind Of Food?

It’s brewpub food, people. We all know what that is about. I have not looked at the menu yet but I feel like there will be sliders. Lots of versions of sliders. Okay now, let’s look at the menu and see.

I’m shocked. I didn’t see any sliders. Lots of food. A bit more extensive than the standard restaurant brewery. Sometimes that’s a good thing and sometimes too many dishes is a bad thing. At least there will be choices.

What Kind Of Beer?

For a beer geek like me, usually, the most exciting thing to look for is not the beer that the place makes but the guest taps. These are the beers they serve that are not the ones they make.

Usually, the beer that a brewpub makes is very generic. Just kinda OK. So the beer they offer other than theirs becomes the interesting part. Pete’s other locations seem to lean towards craft beer, which is a good sign.

They serve a lot of Norcal area beers so I assume the Fresno location will have locals like Tioga, Full Circle, House of Pendragon, Dust Bowl and maybe by that point Zack’s.

Fresno Is The New Brewpub Capitol.

Even though Fresno is still underserved for actual breweries, we seem to be doing just fine for brewpubs. We already have chains and homegrown.

We have Mad Duck at Campus Pointe. They are even opening a second location at Herndon & Marks that is being built as we read:

Mad Duck Brewery second location

We also have Sequoias (wish we could still call it Butterfield’s) with a Tower District location and an NE Fresno location. There is also the chain, BJ Brewhouse at Fashion Fair.

Brewpub or Brewery? What Is The Difference?

If you’re kind of fuzzy from drinking the night before and were wondering what the difference between a brewpub and a brewery is, I think of it this way:

BREWERY:

  • Focused on making their own beer.
  • Distributes their beer to other places.
  • Packages their beer for stores.
  • Food is not offered or comes second to the beer.

BREWPUB:

  • Food is the main focus.
  • Beer is an afterthought or feels almost like a gimmick to get you in the door.
  • The beer that they brew is safe and generic, does not push the limits of brewing.
  • Very little to no packaging of the beer, little to no distribution.

We have roughly the same amount of brewpubs as we do breweries in Fresno. That is odd and I hope the brewery side passes up the brewpub side soon.

Until then I will still be sampling both because beer research is essential to local blogging. Says me.

Summer Sweat 2018: The Fresno Thing To Do This Weekend

It’s time for Summer Sweat again!

My favorite music-related event of the year (well, since FUSE Fest is tucked away hiding in a Downtown basement somewhere).

I love Fresno events that fucking own that they are a Fresno event! That’s right, an outdoor event, during the hottest time of the year. Call it Summer Sweat. Bring the damn sweat!

SUMMER SWEAT DETAILS

TIOGA SEQUOIA STAGE

TEZZY RADIO STAGE

I will check in on this in between sets on the Tioga Stage and getting Fulton Street IPAs. But I would be lying if I told you I knew what the hell was going on there.

DJ Burns will be there. I sure hope it’s my friend Doug from 3rd Grade whom we all still call “Burns” and he has secretly been DJ-ing for years. Probably not.

OTHER THINGS TOO

There will be food and vendors of various sorts, check the flyer above for the list. All I need to know is there will be food and I’m cool. I am here for the music and beer.

I’ll try to update this post when I know the set times and if there are any special beer releases Tioga has up its sleeve.

Oh wait, here are the set times:

I am definitely centering things around Pinkeye’s set with an eye on Macondo’s.

The thing I like about Summer Sweat above all the other music related events and festivals in Fresno is that it doesn’t get uncomfortably packed with Fresbros or anybody else, it’s about the music, it’s approachable, there is the good beer. Enough said.

See ya out there, sweating and breathing heavy.

 

Chicken Shack Fresno – Things To Know Before You Go

Chicken Shack Fresno

I have not been to the new Chicken Shack in Fresno, on Fulton Street. Just letting you know right now. This is not a personal review. It’s compiled. Hell dude, I didn’t even take the above picture, the Fresno Bee’s Bryant-Jon Anteola did.

That’s fine. We can figure out if this place is worth checking out all the same.

Location

1108 Fulton Street (formally Fulton Mall). Corner of Fulton & Mariposa. Located close to the Fresno Courthouse, Chuchanski Park and Club One Casino.

So it’s a good place to eat if you have jury duty in Downtown Fresno.

Heck, it could even serve as a place to eat if you’re seeing a show at Selland Arena or Warnors Theatre.

Hours: 10 AM – 9 PM every day.

The first Chicken Shack started in Hanford. They also have a food truck too that was very popular at this year’s Grizzly Fest. But the location we are talking about is the Fresno one.

Menu

They have beer! Oh wait, we should talk about the chicken first.

Of course, there is chicken. Next level fast-food style chicken, whatever that means. Lots of burgers too. And salads. And wings. Here is their full menu.

Some things that people have Yelped:

“They have a great set up inside and a patio to eat on as well as some good chicken fingers! I ordered the #2, it’s big enough to share if you’re just wanting to watch some Tv, drink some soda, and have a bite to eat.”
-Eric Larsen

“Got the buffalo fries, they were great. Chicken tenders cut up on top of shoe string fries. Big enough to share. Husband ordered the double shack burger combo which is HUGE and delicious. The bun was fancy haha.”
-Brianna Wilson

“I have had better chicken at a Rallys…”
-Daniel Marshall

Okay, well, not everybody enjoyed it. But overall I hear many good things.

ABC 30 did a video about the place when it first opened that might be of some help:

Beer, yes, I almost forgot. They have craft beer!

There are not a ton of food places like this, that have any kind of craft beer selection. As a beer geek that gets super annoying. A Chicken Shack, there most certainly is some Tioga Sequoia on draft, so we can drink local at the very least:

Are there things for vegetarians?

Not really. I guess you should not expect much since the place is called “The CHICKEN Shack” but you might deserve to expect something, ya know. I guess you can at least get one of their salads, without meat. Veg eaters are used to improvising when eating out.

Best Time To Go To CHICKEN SHACK FRESNO

Obviously, the best times to go to restaurants, new, old or popular, are the off times. Between 2-5 or 11:00-11:30 AM. I have heard tell that they can even be busy during the week after 2.

Pro tip: You can call-ahead your order. Much less waiting that way. (559)-724-9857.

Here’s Where Things Get Weird

They painted the building blue. Which is cool because it is not ‘Fresno Beige’ and we need less beige around here. And they have a pretty good sign that fits well enough.

Then came the oddness.

(Photo by Daniel A Draper)

They painted panels of art around the building.

You see, the Chicken Shack happens to be located on “Renoir Corner”, which I didn’t know was a thing until now. It’s named that because of the Renoir sculpture located on that corner. So hence, the inspired panels.

But it just looks… off. The combination of the art panels, the blue and the sign that does not blend with this, makes it look a little hokey.  Now mind you, this is WAY better than just plain beige, so I guess I should shut up. Love the effort!

Listen to a review

Early on in this month’s Flowing With Famous podcast, Joshua Tehee gives me/us a review of the place. Definitely worth listening to if I do say so myself:

Eventually I’ll get around to eating some Chicken Shack food. If you have gone or plan NOT to go, feel free to leave me a comment on how it went or why you won’t go.