Three new brewers set their sights on Downtown Fresno

Central California

February 10, 2017
Written by Valerie Shelton

A trio of new brewers are looking to locate production of craft beer to Downtown Fresno, joining trailblazer Tioga-Sequoia.A trio of new brewers are looking to locate production of craft beer to Downtown Fresno, joining trailblazer Tioga-Sequoia.With revitalization efforts well underway in Downtown Fresno, and the success of long-time local breweries Tioga-Sequoia and Full Circle Brewing, other brewers are getting ready to plant their flag near new Fulton Street and revolutionize the area.

Already on tap for some time, Sanger brewery House of Pendragon, which has a popular tasting room in Clovis, is teaming up with Visalia restaurant and gastropub Pita Kabob to bring HoP/PK to an old two-story sports bar located at 820 Van Ness Ave. After more than a year of renovation, the long-awaited 32-tap bar and Mediterranean restaurant is finally set to open by June.

While excitement mounts for HoP/PK, three brand new breweries have also announced plans to establish roots in Downtown Fresno this year.

In January, Border Hop Brewing signed a lease on a 9,600 square-foot building at 721 Broadway St. in the South Stadium District. And just down the street, at 411 Broadway St., another business has signed on to bring a brewery and the city’s first craft distillery under the company name 411 Broadway Ales and Spirits. A third operation, Zack’s Brewing, is currently assessing a property a mile and a half away in the Mural District.

Meanwhile, Downtown Fresno’s two existing breweries are gearing up for expansion. Tioga-Sequoia recently acquired the 14,000 square-foot Amvets building on Inyo and Broadway streets next to its current beer garden and taproom on 745 Fulton St. And under new ownership, Full Circle Brewing is planning to expand its beer selection and production with hopes to bring bottles to local stores.

These stirring plans are just the beginning according to Downtown Fresno Partnership President and CEO Aaron Blair.

“The craft beer industry is starting to boom in Downtown Fresno, and this is a very important part of our success,” Blair said. “They contribute to place making, are growth-oriented exporters and attract tourists. Craft beer is the perfect fit for the ever-changing downtown culture and creative spirit.”

Tioga-Sequoia — the trailblazer

Home of the General Sherman IPA, 99 Golden Ale, and other beers featuring a local moniker, Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Co.’s beer garden has been a popular downtown hangout since 2010. A great place to grab a cold one after a Grizzlies game, the brewery’s outdoor patio has been known to draw hundreds, and even thousands, of craft beer enthusiasts downtown to events like FresYes Fest.

With an additional 14,000 square-foot building at its disposal, Tioga-Sequoia Marketing Manager Michael Cruz said the brewery plans to enhance its current beer garden and ramp up its production.

Currently, Cruz said, Tioga-Sequoia produces close to 9,000 barrels annually, but theoretically, Tioga-Sequoia now has the capacity to produce upwards of 40,000 barrels.

“The top 50 breweries in the country are producing around 80,000 barrels, so this is significant,” Cruz said. “Of course, capacity is one thing and being able to sell that much is another.”

Phase one of expansion plans, Cruz said, is to move all production and storage into the new facility, creating more space for guests at the beer garden. New tanks and upgraded equipment will also be added to steadily increase production, while the beer garden will get a facelift with upgraded aesthetics, such as façade improvements.

Moving into phase two, Cruz said Tioga-Sequoia plans to continue adding tanks and upgrading equipment, and there is a possibility an indoor tasting room could be added for special events. In the beer garden, he said, phase two will come after purchasing the property or renegotiating the lease. The hope, he said, is to add permanent restroom facilities, a pergola, heaters/coolers, misters and other more permanent changes.

In stretching its downtown roots, Cruz said Tioga-Sequoia wants to continue bringing attention to Fresno.

“It was a conscious decision to plant our flag here. Now we want to grow our roots even deeper and help aid the cause of downtown by being a beacon for change,” Cruz said.

Cruz said Tioga-Sequoia is happy to see other breweries choosing to set up shop downtown as well.

“Breweries get along well together,” Cruz said. “The best part is we all know each other. These are local brewers, not big out-of-town brewers who don’t understand the culture, so I think our businesses will all be successful downtown as we support one another.”

An old favorite comes Full Circle

Arthur Moye, one of the new co-owners of Downtown Fresno’s oldest modern brewpub, Full Circle Brewing Co., which first opened its doors in an 8,700 square-foot warehouse on F Street in 2000, said he too is excited to see new breweries headed downtown.

“Revitalization is all about the density of stuff to do, and if there is cool stuff going on in close proximity to Full Circle and more people coming downtown, that is good for us,” Moye said, adding that he envisions an original craft beer community in Fresno that can sustain around 30 breweries.

As others breweries get established downtown, Moye said Full Circle Brewing is focusing on broadening its influence in the craft beer community by bottling its beers to sell in Central Valley liquor stores. To make this possible, three tanks are being added to the Full Circle Brewing system.

Most likely, bottled selections will include Full Circle’s keynote, the Juicy Northeastern IPA, and its flagship Cluster Fuggle Cream Ale, and one rotating seasonal beer.

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