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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
Here are some of my favorite spots in Fresno that are no longer around. Basically, the 80s for an NW Fresno kid.
Hopefully, it sparks your own memories, wherever the hell ya grew up.
Blackbeards would be number one on my list except it is somehow still there. Intact. Almost unchanged. Which is awesome and sad at the same time.
MALIBU GRAND PRIX FRESNO
In the same place the Costco parking lot is now, behind the shopping center at the NE corner of Blackstone & Herndon, was Malibu Grand Prix. Letting kids race little Indy-style cars seems like a bad idea, but I never heard of anyone getting seriously hurt at it.
I think I spent more time in the arcade playing Tempest than on the race track. It was always a bit intimidating to me to drive those things … There. I said it. The Malibu cars, made for children, intimidated me. Didn’t know I’d be working out childhood issues today.
“I really could get into this!” is not something I ever said though. For the record.
WOODWARD PARK DRIVE IN
We no longer have a drive-in movie theater in Fresno and it sucks. The last one we had was Woodward, which is now a Home Depot and a Costco – definitely not an upgrade.
I can still remember going to the concession stand in the center, stealing looks at the other movies playing that I was too young to watch, enjoying the perfect Fresno Summer Nights and only half paying attention to the movie we came to see.
Madera still has one in operation, if you want to try and experience that again.
VIDEO GAME CAGE AT BLACKSTONE TOYS R US
This used to be the only place (that I can remember) you could get any game you wanted. Saving up money to get the latest hot game, only to find they were sold out of it, was always a bummer.
Bringing up the paper tag that represented the game, taking it to the cage and having them hand over the actual game, is one of the more satisfying things from childhood I recall. Is that sad?
TOWER RECORDS IN THE KMART SHOPPING CENTER
I got this picture from former Tower Records (OG location) worker, Dale Stewart of Capitol Punishment fame.
Records to the left. Tapes to the right. CDs eventually taking over. Record displays in the center. 45s of the Top Twenty Songs. These are the memories.
FESTIVAL GAME PALACE
It was not easy to try and make a $5 bill last for an afternoon, but I managed somehow. Shout out to Paperboy and the manual hockey game by the snack bar.
Dear God I could watch this all day:
THE GRAPE TRAY
It was next to the original Fresno Cost Plus at the NW corner of Shaw & Fresno. A sandwich shop, deli, and wine store. The reason I remember is it had a unique upstairs eating area unlike any in Fresno. I guess there is something about sitting and looking out over the shop from up high while having a salami & swiss.
The Grape Tray is still around. But it’s now at Palm & Bullard in the Opus One shopping center. And it’s just a wine shop. No cool upstairs or sandwiches. Boring.
I think it’s even in the spot that used to have a tiny record shop I would stop into after school and rarely buy something, much to the owner’s chagrin – wish I could remember the name of it.
FIG GARDEN LIQUOR (Original)
I know it’s still there but when I was a kid, Tom Seaver’s Father-In-Law owned it. He had the best (non-card shop) baseball card selection in town. He would even hand out autographed pictures of Tom Seaver to those of us that seemed like they cared. I got one or two over the years.
ARTHUR’S TOYS ON BLACKSTONE
The place to be even after Toys R Us opened. No other place could I look at custom electric cars to add to my track. It’s now Whitie’s Pets and went in there recently and was able to conjure a tiny bit of the vibe.
This is not me but I had the exact setup. Now I feel like going out and buying one:
The hobby shop place in Fig Garden Village that sold model airplanes and cars, Bob’s Village Hobby. (Read about owner, Bob Hansen, here). My memories of the place are faint, but it definitely inspired me to hang my model planes from my bedroom ceiling.
The Fig Garden Movie Theater. I so much wish it was still there. If you are too young to remember, it was located roughly where the Deli Delicious and noodle place is, in the back NE corner of Fig Garden Village.
Festival Cinemas. Saw all the important 80s movies there. Empire Strikes Back. Raiders of the Lost Ark. The greats.
I could go on for a while, as I’m sure you could too. Often I wonder what my kid will one day fondly remember about Fresno? It definitely won’t be a Drive-In.
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.
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’tthey 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.
Is there a thing as being too successful? Fresyes Fest might be that for Fresno.
When it comes to Fresyes Fest, the worries of how to get people Downtown melt away in a sweaty line that may be for a port-a-john or may be for the Doghouse Grill food truck.
The festival is well done and is promoted as well as you can promote a thing. But does it need it even?
Do organizers need to get up a 4:00 in the morning to do the local morning TV shows? Contact dopey local bloggers [me]? Do the local radio circuit?
I don’t think they do.
In fact, I am really interested to see if you could pull off a successful Fresyes Fest with almost no promotion.
Spoiler Alert!: You can.
Okay yeah, you would have to do a lineup announcement. Sure. You would have to do a map of where everything is and where to go. How to get there. Where to park. All that stuff. Yes, give that a post or two on your social media.
Really though, just the venues talking about it, the vendors and bands. That would be enough, I think.
Fresyes Fest Has Become Unstoppable
The first walk night for Christmas Tree Lane.
Those are now the things that are fullproof in Fresno.
The morning weather on Fresyes Fest Day was kinda terrible too, which would scare off any people on the fence about going to any outside event in Fresno. Didn’t make a dent at Fresyes.
Let’s Talk About Zacks Brewing’s Event a second.
During this year’s Fest, the VIP event inside Zack’s Brewing was the best. I will be doing that again next year. $15 for open tables, no lines for good beer, food trucks, clean bathrooms, and excellent music, was incredibly worth it for a person that has an aversion for crowds and can only take them in small doses [me].
Tioga was bursting at its seams and they are experienced at that sort of thing. Zack’s would have been so overwhelmed that it would have shut the doors for weeks as they tried to recover their beer inventory and their sanity.
For those that thought it was a bad move to charge something during a free event, for this case, you’re wrong.
For Zack’s, it was either make it a manageable paid event or keep the doors completely closed. They chose wisely.
Fresyes Fest 2020 is already being planned
Maybe, if at all possible, not have it during the opening day of the Foxes season. Fresyes is big enough, it does not need anything to make it bigger.
But that probably was just happenstance.
Gone are the days in Fresno when you could not do more than one event a weekend and expect to be successful. Last weekend is all the Fresproof you need.