The Guilt of Corona

I had not sat down inside or outside a Fresno business for nine months. Until…

Yep. I broke down and went to the new (still improving) beer garden setup at Zack’s Brewing in Downtown Fresno.

I had a couple beers along with some tri-tip.

It’s looking good, the beer is still awesome, food was great and it all felt weird.

I sat outside and away from everyone. Wore a mask except to drink and eat. I felt safe enough.

But I didn’t have to go. I could have stayed home. This is what I have done this whole Pandemic: Getting takeout & delivery. No inside or even parking lot seating, for me.

But I broke, had some beers and got some flack for it on Facebook with a reminder of how things are going out there:

I can’t say disagree with the flack. But I wanted to support a friend’s business and have a Birthday Beer.

Zack’s and Tioga are making things as safe as possible and I was thirsty for an hour of normalcy.

We have all made our Corona choices somewhere. A tasty beverage on a nice Sunday afternoon broke me.

Now I gotta re-focus, a long Winter lies ahead.

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Fresno On Lockdown

So this is life now, eh? Battling Fresnans at Save Mart (or for you crazy people, Costco) for bread.

Actually, I have been surprised by how nice everyone has been out there in Fresno. I guess when you go through a shared experience like this, people get nicer.

As a homebody, an introverted and awkward person, that has to push and motivate themselves to even meet up with friends that I want to be around, you would think this new world of being socially distant, not meeting up with people and staying away from groups, would be kinda awesome.

Honestly, for me, it sort of is.

WAIT WAIT, don’t hate me. If everyone else’s life was the same; healthy, their business was untouched, jobs secure, THEN this would be the life I dream of.

Stay at home with my family? Play video games? Wander around my backyard, look up at the clouds, write, binge Star Wars content, develop a playlist on Spotify, trick-out my patio? Do all the things I always want to do but never make the time for? Yes, I’m here for that content.

All while feeling like I’m “doing good” (even if I don’t actually do any of those things and put them off like I always do).

Feeling good about myself instead of my normal feeling of dread and guilt that I’m not meeting friends for a thing, or going Downtown for ArtHop or an event, or going to get my tires rotated or some crap thing that I beat myself up for not doing ALL THE FUCKING TIME.

*deep breath*

Getting takeout now feels… good? As long as places stay up and running.

I hope everyone can weather this. The number of businesses that are affected are too many to count. It’s not just the food-related industry. But what the hell am I talking about here, you don’t need me to tell you this.

Most of the places I use for beer have delivery or pickup now. I used Pine & Palm’s “drive-thru” service this week and picked up some crowlers. I’ll be trying out Tioga’s delivery service this weekend. Hopefully, Zack’s Brewing will be able to do the same soon. Most of my craft beer places are at least setting up pickup options. I plan on taking full advantage.

Here are tips on how to keep it clean and still get local takeout.

This is all we can do, right? Takeout and tip higher than normal. Save up money to hella support when we are on the other side of this. No matter if it’s a food-related business or not.

I am fortunate to have a job that is not affected by this (income-wise), at least not yet. Unfortunate that I still have to go out and do it. Props to all my new brothers and sisters in the Essential Services Industry.

Staying at home sounds better than ever, but even I will be glad to be amongst groups of Fresnans again, someday… on occasion.

For now, all we can do is support the places we use (in the safest way we can) and hope they will be there when this is over. Keep your head up gaze at the clouds and stay safe, Fresno.

-Mikey

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Joe Rogan Called Fresno Sketchy. Why Didn’t It Go As Crazy As the ‘Firestone Flap’?

You saw last week or more when Joe Rogan gushed about Chef Paul’s and called Fresno Sketchy, right? A bro in L.A. wanted to make sure we knew:

Fresnans did, in fact, ‘cancel Joe’ if getting upset is canceling. But Rogan did not respond to anything on Twitter or wherever else, because he is JOE FUCKING ROGAN! Why would he? And he’s a comedian MMA guy turned huge podcaster, who cares?

So there was nobody fighting, impossible for it to go viral. But who really totally knows why things go freaking viral!? It’s a bunch of little things, IMO.

Speaking of a bunch of little things turning into something…

Why did Fresno get so mad at Firestone Walker Brewing?

The Firestone Walker fight (the ‘Firestone Flap’ as I like to call it and nobody else cares enough to call it that and be nerdy like me, and that’s ok [sadness]) blew up so big, bigger than Joe Rogan’s brief backhanded compliment to a Fresno restaurant, because….

BACKSTORY TIME!:

Fresno is drowning in Firestone beer. It’s everywhere. EVERYWHERE!

Hell, it’s bigger than White Claw and has been for years.

Any damn place in Fresno that might even THINK of having craft beer, has Firestone. Fresno and the 559 are almost forced to spend a lot of money on 805, Luponic Distortion 1 thru infinity, and whatever mixed-pack is taking up an end or a full island, at Save Mart.

I do not have the stats but I would guess that half the tanks in Paso are paid for with 559 money. We might even drink more Firestone Walker beer than people living in the 805.

Now, add to this, we have always suspected the Central Coast does not like us Central Valley folks. Every once in awhile there will be a racist or pretentious comment lobbed our way from the coast. Sometimes we ignore it sometimes we don’t.

So that’s just a LITTLE bit of our Paso Robles history.

Cut to a lazy Sunday morning in Fresno. Fresno Twitter is relaxing, fat and happy from a John Legend visit, and a subsequent positive Fresno Tweet, enjoying breakfast burritos & coffee, scrolling Twitter and the webs and such.

Then it happened. 

Someone responds to John Legend’s Tweet with a negative Fresno bash. Who cares, right!?!

Except, the person bashing Fresno works at Firestone Walker. The person lives in Paso (How is that better than being from Fresno?). And, most importantly, this person is the Communications Manager for Firestone Walker Brewing.

Don’t they know? Don’t they know Fresno loves Firestone? Don’t they know how much beer we buy from them? Don’t they talk about us? Don’t they respect us at all? Don’t they think we’re super cool!? Don’t they know their restaurant/taproom is our first stop on our way to a fun and relaxing coastal weekend!?

All this love and money Fresno gives and it turns out Paso Robles thinks we’re a shithole and is not even classy enough to NOT say it publicly.?!?

Continue reading “Joe Rogan Called Fresno Sketchy. Why Didn’t It Go As Crazy As the ‘Firestone Flap’?”
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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.

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Surviving A Fresno Summer With A Swamp Cooler

My AC unit went out this Summer. The first string of hot days revealed that the compressor in my 25-year-old beast died. It was not going to be worth it to replace it.

I need a new air conditioner. But it’s not always that simple.

Paying for things like a ‘crane fee’ and taking on a loan, was not something we are into this Summer. Beer Slushies at Tioga? Sure. $15,000 central air units? No.

So, we are going to have to get through a Fresno Summer without traditional air. With only a swamp cooler. Ol Swampy (pictured above). Pray for us.

Never thought I would be glad to have a swamp cooler as a backup

We are lucky to have Swampy. The previous owners had both units hooked into the vents. Use the Swamp when things are in the 80s, switch to the Central AC when things start getting ripe.

Those with evaporative cooler experience know, when the triple digits hit, swamp sucks.

Luckily, Fresno does have a good base condition that swamp coolers like: dry heat.

Joke about it all ya damn want but dry heat is hella better than humid heat, for many reasons. One of them is you can tweak your cooler for max coolness:

The best tip from that video? Starting the cooler early!

Blowing swamp when it was already warm was my biggest mistake. It is too much of a struggle for Ole Swampy to cool things down once the house is warm. Starting the cooler at 8 am as opposed to 2 pm makes a big difference.

Yeah, you have the cooler running all day and that can be an expense. But it’s still much cheaper than running an old AC unit.

The frozen bottles and soaking the pads make a small difference but not really worth it for me since my unit is up on the roof.

But what about at night?

Right? Sleeping in a hot room is the worst. I want it cold enough to need a blanket. Being warm during the day is one thing. Trying to sleep when it’s super hot feels like trying to sleep on top of Blackstone asphalt.

That’s why I broke down and bought one of these bad boys for the room:

If you love ‘hotel style’ AC, this is something to look into. It won’t work for the house, but it will keep one bedroom cool and it’s damn nice.

Go turn your swamper on now!

Keeping the cooler in good order and turning it on in the morning, that’s all ya really need to know. Ad the room unit and everything is chill.

Of course… I have not been through August yet. Check back later. In the meantime, I’m feeling like heading Downtown for a Beer Slush:

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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.

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