There’s no denying that the craft beer scene is taking the nation by storm, with California being the epicenter of the movement. According to CaliforniaCraftBeer.com, California is home to over 750 craft breweries, more than any other state. While the majority of these are unsurprisingly located in LA or the Bay Area, Fresno’s emerging craft brewing scene is not to be ignored. Come fall, six local breweries will compose Fresno’s Downtown Ale Trail, a showcase of what our local craft beer scene has to offer.
Of these six downtown breweries, two are already operational: Tioga Sequoia, and Full Circle Brewing. House of Pendragon currently operates out of both their Sanger brewing facility and their Clovis taproom, and will soon be opening a joint venture with Pita Kabob, serving up both beer and food. Slated to open in fall is 411 Broadway Ales & Spirits, Border Hop Brewing, and Zack’s Brewing Company.
To ramp up excitement for the upcoming Ale Trail, the Downtown Fresno Partnership has created a promotional video:
411 Broadway Ales and Spirits, named for its planned location at 411 Broadway St., is aiming for a mid-August opening. An outlier from many craft breweries who tend to focus on IPAs and other hoppy beers, 411 will primarily focus on sour beers, and will also be the first craft distillery in the area. However, at the time of opening, the main offerings will be early beers and simple spirits such as vodka, as more complex sour beers take longer to brew, and spirits such as whiskey and rum can take years.
Border Hop Brewing, founded by local brewers Oscar Fuentes and Benjamin Litwack, is expecting to open this October at 721 Broadway St., just a short walk away from Tioga-Sequoia. Fuentes has been a homebrewer for seven years and teamed up with Litwack to create the Border Hop label. They plan to offer “a little bit of everything”, but will primarily focus on IPAs.
Full Circle Brewing, located at 620 F St., Fresno, CA, offers not just a wide variety of beers but also bottles their own wines and mead under their Los Californios Winery Label. In addition, they are partnering up with Fresno State University to create Brew University, a part of Fresno State’s Career Readiness Academy, which will teach students the skills needed to make craft beer for home or commercial use.
House of Pendragon currently operates at two locations: Their brewery and tap house at 1849 Industrial Way #103, Sanger, as well as their Clovis tap house at 1345 N. Willow Ave. They are currently anticipating an August opening for their newest location, a joint venture with Visalia-based restaurant Pita Kabob. In 2015 the pair won a small business competition with the Downtown Fresno Partnership, giving them over $100k in cash, construction work, and marketing funds. The much anticipated new location will feature a partial second floor with additional seating overlooking the main level, as well as a patio dining area.
Tioga Sequoia, the “big boy” in Fresno’s brewing scene, is undergoing a large expansion. By purchasing the old Amvets building next to their location at 745 Fulton St., they have tripled their existing space. They’re planning to invest at least $800k, expanding their brewing capacity, purchasing new equipment, and making renovations to expand their seating areas and accommodate for their popularity- their outdoor beer garden, often home to live music and other entertainment, is frequently packed.
Zack’s Brewing, run by husband-and-wife duo Steven and Gail Zack, is currently still a homebrewing operation, but have recently announced the address of their upcoming location: 712 Fulton St. Until then, you can find their stall at various events around the area, such as the Old Town Clovis Craft Beer Crawl, which took place in March.
For the latest announcements and updates on the Downtown Ale Trail, check out their Official Facebook page.