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.

Why Is Lettuce or Cabbage Even Put On Tacos?! Stop it.

Flavorless beasts. Lettuce and/or cabbage add nothing but sadness to tacos. So why the hell are they automatic for every damn, otherwise delicious, taco?

Before we get too far down this hole, I do want to make it clear that I prefer cabbage on a taco over lettuce. It simply holds up better. Still sucks, just holds up better. Anyway, proceeding…

I get that there would be a certain amount of people that like cabbage or lettuce on their tacos. Feels like that is a small group. That group should have the option of ADDING cabbage or lettuce.

Cabbalettuce should not automatically be on the taco. It sucks rotten lemons. Yeah, I have now put cabbage and lettuce together as one word because I am tired of saying “and/or”. Anyway, proceeding…

You get a taco for the base protein; asada, chicken, fish, or whatever. Add the salsa and lemon or lime. Done. EVERYTHING else should be options.

If I knew how to cook things, had some guts, started my own taco truck, this is how I would roll:

  • CILANTRO: No! But leave it there as an option.
  • ONIONS: Again, NO! But leave it as an option.
  • LETTUCE: No, bro. Say no to lettuce. Won’t even have it there as an option.
  • CABBAGE: Option.
  • GREEN PEPPER: On the side.

Has anyone ever EVER said “Oh man, that’s some damn good lettuce!” “Ohhhh those tacos have the BEST cabbage!”? No, of course they fucking haven’t!

They haven’t because, at the very least, a person is indifferent to cabbalettuce, but NOBODY ACTUALLY WANTS IT! No person has ever said “They don’t put enough cabbage on their tacos.” NOBODY!

Sure, you can say that cabbalettuce adds a little crispness or something. That’s cool for you. But hey, I bet you wouldn’t miss it.

I know what you’re thinking; Yes, I can and do ask to leave off the cabbage or lettuce or onion, please. But that is annoying. I need my life simpler, okay!?

Oh, and if you want to have cilantro, so be it. I don’t agree and don’t want it, it sucks like cabbalettuce. But I get that it does add a flavor component. Should be offered, not forced. Why ya gotta force your cabbalettuce agenda on me, bro?

I’m fond of the truck that shows up to Zack’s Brewing often, I believe it’s El Tapatio. They have the best setup because they give you the base taco you ordered and they have a condiment style bar that let you add the things, like cabbage or onions, yourself.

Let the world decide about Cabbalettuce

This year’s famous Taco Truck Throwdown is happening soon in Fresno. Hopefully, the one with the most cabbaletucce will lose.

What Will Happen To The Chicken Pie Shop Building?

Fresno’s Chicken Pie Shop is now closed for good. What are we going to do with that building?

Respect to the Chicken Pie Shop. A Tower and Fresno icon of breakfasts, chicken pies and green booths is now gone. Thank you for your service and your uniqueness. You will be missed.

Okay, now, what is going to happen to that building?

This a a major spot in the Tower District. A large building. On Olive. Next to all the things. It would be bad for the Tower District and bad for Fresno if it were to sit un-leased for a long time. We must figure this out.

Can it be a Trader Joe’s?

This is what everyone wants. If not a Trader Joe’s then something like it.

Yeah, Trader Joe’s is not realistic. Neither is any kind of market like a Trader Joe’s. Nice thought though.

How about…

Oh man, all of those suggestions are good.

Bitwise is so invested in Downtown now, I’m not sure they would come back to the Tower. They totally should though and that would be a good spot to do it.

Another stage for performing, whether for music or plays or comedy, would be perfect.

A craft beer tasting room or co-op?

Yeah, I would be into a Modern Times opening a tap-room. Very much so. It would be best if it was a local brewer. But the only one right now that could pull it off would be Tioga. Maybe Dust Bowl or South Gate. This is my favorite suggestion.

But what could a new tenant do to the building? It’s the Tower District and don’t they have a Committee that must approve of the things and such?

In this month’s Flowing With Famous, we suggest that David Fansler, creator of legendary Fresno restaurants Tahoe Joe’s, Yosemite Ranch, Pismo’s and Westwood’s, should open a theater district themed restaurant. But I don’t think he knows how to create a restaurant South of Shaw, so nevermind.

Let’s Get To Leasing!

Well then. We have an open space in a major location in the Tower and some good suggestions on what could become of the location. Somebody get to work on something.

In the meantime, I gotta see about acquiring one of those iconic Chicken Pie Shop booths.

*Photo by Josef Cramer

We Need To Think Differently About Me N Ed’s Pizza, Fresno

No this is not a post about the Best Pizza In Fresno. It’s a post about Me N Ed’s Pizza. [zing]

Kidding, kidding. I love that damn pizza. Me (Whomever this “Me” character is) and Ed, make a great pizza. A Fresno pizza. Not the best pizza in the world. Not the best pizza in Fresno.

But, it’s the most FRESNO pizza.

What is one of the things you do when someone from out-of-town comes to visit? Show them some Fresno stuff, duhhh. Like:

  • The electronic billboard at Blackstone & Shaw.
  • The corner of Barstow & Fruit where Brandau watched traffic for a few minutes, didn’t see a bike and stopped a fully funded road rehab from happening.
  • The AT&T Store that used to be a Grandy’s.

After that big tour, you’re going to want to take your guest out for some food. Fresno food.

First, you have some tri-tip (either from your backyard grill or [insert your favorite place to have tri-tip here]. Then you have tacos [probably from a place on Belmont]. Then some pilaf [probably your Mom’s]. Then it’s Me N Ed’s Pizza.

Here is the part we need to think about differently

Do NOT frame it as THE BEST PIZZA! It won’t work.

No outsiders will ever think Me N Ed’s is the best pizza. I’m not saying that because I think it’s bad or isn’t the best pizza. I’m saying that because EVERYBODY thinks the pizza from their town is the best.

Me N Ed’s could be the best pizza and it wouldn’t matter. Pizza is the most subjective food in … food. Whatever pizza a person grew up with is what they think is the best pizza and will be closed off from accepting somebody’s pizza as being better.

Close the brick oven, this is how it is and will always be. Everybody’s opinion about pizza is the right opinion. No use trying to change it.

So, when you do order up some Me N Ed’s delivered or head down to a location where you can pour your own beer, like my favorite one at Bullard & West, frame the argument differently.

Say, “This is our take on pizza. It’s a very Fresno thing
[well, Valley and Lakewood thing]. It is local. We love it (mostly). You probably won’t and that is okay.”

Order your Valley Veggie. Order your pepperoni & canned mushroom. Move on.

*Picture stolen from Me N Ed’s Twitter feed.

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.