Breweries, road trip

HoP: The Dragon’s Lair

I had such a blah experience with House of Pendragon that I wasn’t even going to write about it.  I hate saying mean things in print and out loud.  So I was just going to lock this visit in my vault, give them the benefit of the doubt and return another time to get a better taste of what HoP has to offer.

But the research department of my huge blog happened to have given me an article from the Fresno Bee that was dated March 22, 2017.  I didn’t get a chance to read it until the night I got home from my #roadtrip, which happened to be about 8 hours after my visit to The Dragon’s Lair.

Robert Rodriguez, a reporter for the Bee,  wrote about this new trend in brewing called New England or Northeast IPA’s.  He describes them as “juicy, hazy” and as I read, I remembered what the brewtender at The Dragon’s Lair said about their Qui Gon Jinn & Juice when Sean asked what an “NE Style IPA” was.  She used those exact words.  So it took me a second but I finally realized we had tried something new and innovative at The Dragon’s Lair without even grasping that.  Maybe a short review of HoP was in order, I thought.  I can be really nice when I’m trying to be.

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Bad picture of the menu board

I guess I should start with why I had a shitty time.  First, there is major construction in the immediate area of the brewery that made getting there a bitch.  Then, there was no parking.  Their lot was full so we had to park a little ways down the street.  Next, there was a huge line just to get in when we first walked up.  Then, there were a ton of unsupervised kids running amok.  Also, it was freezing that day and the wind was blowing through the warehouse. And the Old Man had a bad time at first because he got a 12 oz. pour instead of a 16 oz. like I did.  Whew!  That’s a lot of negative stuff, sorry.

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About that line…I stood in the outside one while Sean went inside to see what the other line was all about.  The outside line was to get tickets and a wristband to drink.

After reading this chalkboard sign, it was apparent they were having some kind of special event.  It was their 4th year anniversary and they had a commemorative 14.5 oz glass you could get with a pour for $12.50.  Otherwise, you could get a taster ticket for a 5 oz pour for $3.00 or a 12 oz or 16 oz pour for $5.75.  And they charged tax.  Hmmmph.  And they were using plastic cups.  I heard Mother Nature cry a little.

About that second line….it went pretty quick.  Like I mentioned before, we had a question about the Jinn & Juice.  The brewtender was knowledgeable and told us what we wanted to know.  I ordered the Lancelot IPA which was a 7% and Sean was the brave one who went with the 8% Qui Gon Jinn & Juice IPA.  The Lancelot was nice and flavorful and I liked the amount of hops, not too bitter.

The Old Man was immediately unhappy with his choice.  Not because of the taste.  He said it was indeed juicy & fruity more than bitter and it was a pretty hazy yellow color.  It was an all-around great beer.  But he didn’t realize when he ordered that it came in a 12 oz cup.

 Anybody who knows my man, knows he does not stand for shit like that.  He was pissed and drank his Jinn & Juice so fast he could barely enjoy the taste.

I advised him to get another one that came in a 16 oz cup and he would feel better.  He left me for a few minutes and came back with a 16 oz cup full of  Red Wedding Cake Red Ale.  It was a deep red and tasted sweet, not at all like a 7% ale.  He relished his second beer at a slower pace and went from Hulk to Banner by the time it was finished.

The Dragon’s Lair is the brewery and tasting room that House of Pendragon Brewing Company calls home.  HoP has another location in Clovis that seems to be popular but we wanted the brewery experience so we drove the extra bit out of our way to visit them.

They use kegs and sacks of grain for seating and there is a lot of it.  We were lucky to find seating right away considering the crowd that was there.  I was tickled that their theme is the Arthurian legends.

There were two food trucks. One was a gourmet popcorn truck  DSC05057and the other was a hot dog cart.  The hot dog cart offered veggie dogs but it was extra to substitute one.  It started to sprinkle while we were there and the popcorn people moved inside with their table of free samples.

Damn free samples!  Sean had some and that made me want some so I ended up filling a couple of handfuls of popcorn & chowing down.  Well, the kids also liked the free samples and all the little “adorable shitheads” started hanging around the popcorn table.  Luckily we were close to leaving so it wasn’t too annoying but I will never understand why it is popular for breweries to be kid friendly.

I said it in the beginning and I’ll repeat it: House of Pendragon deserves a second visit.  I feel in a way like it is unfair to judge them based on this one experience.  There was enough cool stuff about them to outweigh the negatives.  This summer when I can spend more time exploring the newer breweries in Fresno and the surrounding areas, I will stop in at the Clovis location and maybe even The Dragon’s Lair again.  I’ll take better pictures, I’ll have more than one beer, I’ll take notes while I’m there.  Everything about my subsequent call to HoP will be better.  All you have to do is sit back and wait.

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Beers I drink, Breweries, road trip

Sequoia Brewing Company

The Sequoia Brewing Company is an old standard of mine in Fresno, CA.  I’m there practically every April on the way to Oakhurst for some much needed R&R.

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We have been to Sequoia Brewing so many times that we are both very familiar with the beers.  Neither of us agreed out loud that we wanted to try something different but it seemed to be the unspoken consensuses.  Thanks to the “Specials” board out in front, we found what we were looking for;  two new brews that we were eager to sample.

I started off with the “So You Like IPA’s” Series #1 because I loved the high 7.4%.  It was delicious.  The taste was more malty than hoppy but the hops did creep up on me.  The bitterness was slight and it went down smooth.  I seem to remember that the IPA’s that Sequoia and Tioga Sequoia offer are not as hoppy as IPA’s available in Southern California.  The Old Man tried the Spring Bock which measured 7.2%.  It was a golden colored lager with a smoky aftertaste.

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In German, “bock” means “goat” and it is used to show a particular beer has a kick to it.  The Spring Bock indeed had a kick.  I tried some of Sean’s and liked it so much I ordered it for beers #2 and #3.  I got Sean’s original choice and he got mine for his second round.  He was as impressed with the IPA as I was.  There are a total of 3 varieties in the “So You Like IPA’s” series and we are excited to come back and try them.

Sequoia Brewing has specials for Happy Hour and we were hungry after our 4 hours just spent on the road.  We’ve had the pizza here before and it leaves something to be desired.  So we opted for the pretzel bites and we were not disappointed.

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The pretzel bites are small pieces of a larger soft pretzel that is deep fried to perfection and then salted and served with a side of stone ground mustard.  We ate that shit up fast! It was such a needed snack that ended up being our dinner.  Sequoia has a limited selection for vegetarians and I really wish they would offer a veggie burger.  They do have a veggie sandwich that sounds appetizing so I commend them for that effort.

Happy hour was coming to an end so we quickly ordered our third and last round.  I stayed with the  Spring Bock and Sean went back to the traditional menu to sample a Garage Sale Rye Pale Ale.  In the past, the Old Man has enjoyed rye IPA’s so he figured the rye pale ale would be just as good.  Coming in at a 6.0%, it was flavorful and crisp.  It had a nice dark red color.

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When it came time to pay the man, we were giggling with delight at the price of our beers.  I had to take a picture of my receipt to show off just how cheap the craft brewed beers are during happy hour.  $3.47!  $3.47?  Hell yeah!

Sequoia Brewing Company could teach other breweries a lesson about pricing.  Lately, I have been paying $6 and $7 for pints at local breweries.  They were no better and no less ABV than the $3.47 beers at Sequoia.  At a brewery, you cut out the middle man.  Where do some of them get off charging more than $5 for a pint?  I guess it’s the greedy American way.  The prices at SBC are refreshing and make me want to go drink and drink some more.

I probably won’t be back to Sequoia Brewing Co. until next Spring break.  If I was a local, I’d drink there more often but it’s just another one of those great stops on a #roadtrip. It’s nice to know I have a place to sit and enjoy some beers and unwind from the long drive.

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