Fresno Needs A Damn Beer Hall!

German Beer Hall – by thorquabbin on Flicker

We do. We need one – you know, when the COVID is gone (someday I hope to delete that statement from this post).

Just a straight up fucking BEER HALL!

Take one large hall. Then add…

  • A bunch of long-ass tables.
  • A solid list of beers on tap.
  • Pitchers (You remember pitchers, right!?)
  • One simple food – likey tacos. All the meat variants and veggie variants – BUT THATS IT! Don’t fuck with a bunch a different things!
  • Lots of water around.
  • A safe, open, welcoming, friendly environment.
  • A large bathroom for all peoples.
  • A large wait staff that comes to your table very regularly so you never have to get up and try to wedge yourself into a busy bar to hopefully get a bartender’s attention.

It’s actually really simple. Not that fucking hard to do and nobody is doing it exactly like that. IT WOULD RAKE!!

And it wouldn’t matter where you put it. How about one of you assholes with money just fucking do it already!?!!

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.

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.

Don’t Be Lame, Whole Foods Fig Garden, Fresno Needs This

  
The time has come, Whole Foods Fresno. Turn your dumb little cooking demo room into a craft beer bar. 

You know the little area, tucked into the corner of the bread department. The one you rarely use for anything – except for what you are using it as now: a backroom for your bread department:

  

This needs to have beer taps in it, not bread racks.

You may think that a craft beer bar inside a grocery store is not a thing. You would be wrong. It is a thing. In fact, Whole Foods leads the way in grocery store beer bars. They have several.

In fact, the Houston one even has a brewery! And the one down in Del Mar (SD) has really terrible cover bands playing:

https://youtu.be/Fg_Vo8WFolc

Just imagine that inside Fresno’s Whole Foods – only with the Light Thieves playing.

Hybrid drinking holes

This Whole Foods craft beer bar need opens things up to another stellar idea.

On The Perfect Pour we somewhat jokingly floated the idea of having a beer bar inside a hardware store and also how there are not enough sandwich shops with beer.

This is a good start. I wouldn’t mind having a beer with my Gino’s sub. But what other Fresno places could use some beer?

Since a CSU rule prevents Bulldog Stadium from selling beer, that one stays off the list. Also, hair salons recently got the ok to serve alcohol [legally], so that’s taken care of. 

With that, here are some ideas to spice up some local places with a beer bar:

 Jury Duty. Yeah you might get more people to actually show up if there was the promise of one free beer (or wine) per day. Mmmmm, Goverment beerrrr.

Pep Boys. Just using Pep Boys as a place holder, it could be any mechanic in town. I would actually get my oil changed at the mileage Jiffy Lube suggested if I knew I could have a hoppy pale while waiting.

Costco. It would be cheap, as long as you bought two gallons at a time. … on second thought: fuck this. I don’t want to go into Costco any more than I have to.

So lets get that beer bar going, Whole Foods Fresno! Hurry, before Pottery Barn beats you to it. 

If you have a suggestion for a place in Fresno that could use a beer & wine bar, leave it in the comments!

Bagby’s Beer Is The Place Fresno Needs

Bagby Beer Company

There’s a lot going in Fresno right now. What with pavement being laid on Fulton, the Spanspek lineup being announced, the Mayor soon taking on a new soul-fulfilling job, Jenna Prandini being Olympic, Kelly Slater making his previously secret Fresno area surfing spot public.

Things.

Dude I missed some of those. I was in San Diego on a ‘beercation’ (it’s a thing) to attend the Festival Of Dankness. Saw some pretty rad beer related stuff. None more rad (and I will pull it back to Fresno) than going to Bagby’s Beer Company.

bagby-beer-oceanside

I was amazed by the coolness of this place. Three very different bars, all in one place, all with different micro climates. But it manages to keep it tied together. You know you’re in the same place but are still having different experiences.

bagby upstairs

The design was well done, downstairs, upstairs, inside, outside, desert, beach, California, ALL represented. A San Diego classic.

HOW IS THIS FRESNO, BRO?

The reason I bring it up on a Fresno blog is I CAN TOTALLY SEE THIS IN FRESNO! A Fresno version anyway. We deserve it. We can support it. We can have nice things.

Fresno is ready. Just look at all the beer stuff happening or about to happen around town. We are building a scene and the Tioga’s, Goldstein’s, House Of Pendragons, Spokeasy’s and Pine & Palms, won’t mind the good company.

SOMEONE WITH MONEY GET ON THIS

If you are a beer and business dude in Fresno, looking for inspiration, check out the article by the SD Reader on the beginning of Bagby’s and how it was built. You just might get inspired. I’ll be waiting with something hoppy in hand.

Cheers!

(One pic stolen from here and one from here)

Follow Up: A Visit To The New Popolo’s Pizza

New Popolo's Inside

Of course we waited for a table. It’s new and this is Fresno, dammit! Even if it’s an old-new place, we are packing it. The re-birthed place that we (and a lot of Fresnans) waited for is Popolo’s Pizza.

Hey, I know I know, I just reviewed another old-new pizza and beer place in Fresno, but we cried when the old Pops closed so I had to follow up and bring everything full pizza circle.

The Walk In

They still have the box car. There are booths! They seem to have transferred some of the wood paneling from the old place. The paneling looks a bit out-of-place if you had never been in the old one, but it felt good seeing as a veteran of the Blackstone one.

Also like that they kept the arcade going and the food hasn’t changed nor the prices. Welllll, the salad bar is different but more on that in a second.

This Is The New Stuff

Popolo's Pizza Bar

A bar! There’s a bar! You can see the taps now (they were hidden at the old place). Plus more beer! There is also much more seating! And an outside patio! I have not been on the patio yet but it looks cool and I hear it is dog friendly.

Salad Bar Disappointment

Popolo's new salad bar

It just does not measure up to the old one, does it? Nope. Sad little trays instead of pretty bowls amongst ice. BUT WAIT! A quote from Popolo’s themselves (on The Fresnan’s Instagram page) about the salad bar:

“The salad bar is ‘under construction’ still at the moment. Keep an eye out for the improvement one it. It won’t disappoint.”

YES! Somebody listens to bloggers in this town.

Let The Mourning Begin

I was surprised to feel something after going to the new Pops. I felt a sense of loss. The closing of the old place finally hit me.  It’s never coming back. I will never set foot in there again.

No matter how nice and cool they make the new one. No matter how many nods to the original and no matter how smart a move it was (and I can’t blame them a bit for it), I miss the old place and always will.

Thank you Popolo’s for keeping the place alive, even in another form. And thank you old Popolo’s for giving me all the tube TV, icy salads, beer, big booths and pizza feels for all those years.