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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Beers I drink, Breweries, Stuff i do when i drink

South Gate Brewing Co.

My April Fool’s Day brewery tour, aka #roadtrip 2016, came to an end at the South Gate Brewing Company located in Oakhurst, California.  This was not my first time at this gastropub and it won’t be my last.  Not because they are the only game in town, but because they make incredible #craftbeer and fresh food with vegetarian options.  That’s all I ever really want: beer and veggie food.  When it comes to these good things in life, @SouthGateBrewCo scores a hit.

We came up from #Fresno and we were in dire need of refreshing drinks before completing the last leg of the trip.  Even though we got there close to 9:00, South Gate was packed.  But this came as no surprise, it is just par for the course.  South Gate has never not been crowded.  Since it opened in 2013, it has been consistently attracting customers that include locals and #Yosemite tourists.

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The old man and I both ordered a James Blonde IPA, mostly because we were attracted to the 7% ABV it boasts.  We managed to find seats in the brewery area where you can spy the fermenting vats and all the inner workings of a brewery.

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I am not amused at the tanks of beer behind me

At first, Sean and I had the same opinion of the beer.  We didn’t like it because it was too bitter and sour.  It was harsh on the tastebuds.  It was light in color so I think we both just expected something a little lighter and smoother.  After a couple of drinks of this IPA, we disagreed.  Sean still wasn’t into it but I got used to the strong taste and enjoyed it after a bit.  The table-talker write-up says it was cold fermented like a lager and double dry hopped, which explains the utter hoppiness of James Blonde.

In the past I have tried the South Gate’s Gold Diggin’ Blonde, which is a golden ale and an all-day lasting 4.7%.  The Gold Diggin’ Blonde is very light and refreshing, I know, I had more than my fair share of them at one time.  Another beer I’ve sampled is the Tenaya Red IPA which is more malty than hoppy and a little piney.

South Gate not only crafts delicious beers, they offer a menu board with all kinds of options.  That night, they had a veggie rice burger that sounded tempting, but we were already full.

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I just read an article from the Sierra Star that talks with South Gate and goes over their plans for expansion.  I say, “Too soon is not soon enough!”  They are always crowded and I have to hunt to find a spot to rest my weary feet.  South Gate is planning on doubling the size of the kitchen and dining areas and they want to feature full-serve dining as well as new, vegan and vegetarian options for the menu.  The tasting area where you can see the fermenting vats will remain the same.

The gastropub is not currently affected by the construction which is scheduled to end sometime in late June.  Just in time for summer season!  So don’t let the work get in your way of having a great time at the South Gate Brewing Co.!

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Breweries, Stuff i do when i drink

@TiogaSequoia Brewing Company

The spacious Tioga Sequoia Brewing Company’s Beer Garden was my second stop on a #roadtrip up to Oakhurst, California.  Tioga Sequoia is located in #Fresno close to the Chuckchansi Park and in the middle of two freeways.  It’s easy to get to and BIG! There are plenty of places to sit and enjoy the fare!  It’s a relaxed environment, to say the least.

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As evidenced by the populated menu board, you have your choices wide open.  The first beer I went with was the FireFall Red.  It is a 5.5% red that is also available at the other brewery that’s ten minutes away.  Regular readers will remember my review from last week and new readers will just have to catch the fuck up!

The FireFall Red is named after a phenomena in the nearby Yosemite Valley in which Horsetail Falls is lit up by the setting sun in such a way as to make it look like liquid fire is falling down from the mountain.  This event only happens a couple days out of the entire year so if you are ever lucky enough to see it, consider yourself enlightened.  The beer version of FireFall is wonderful.  It has a brick red coloring to it, especially if you hold it up to the light.  It tastes mellow and malty and smooth.  It went down easy and got me ready for my next pint.

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There are two General Sherman IPA’s available and they are both 7.5%.  The difference is that one is double dry-hopped.  According to the Tioga Sequoia website, double dry hopping lends extra flavor and aroma to a beer.  It increases the bitterness also and there is a difference of almost 20 IBU’s between the original and the DDH version.  So I tried both of them, expecting there to be a big taste difference but it was very hard to tell.  The DDH General Sherman is obviously more hoppy tasting than the original but both of them are excellent beers.  Hoppy at it’s bittery best!

I was here on a Friday night and there was no food truck.  I was glad I had eaten at the other place so I could get my drink on with a full belly.  The address is 745 Fulton but the taproom is more off of Inyo St.  You can see Chuckchansi Park right across the street from the outside seating area.

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Here is a crappy picture of the view towards Chuckchansi Park with the sun setting…how inspirational.

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I love this brewery.  I prefer it over other ones because it is spacious enough to where you can sit anywhere you want.  It is more about the beer and gathering experience than about the food.  They’ve got a pub quiz night on Wednesday’s and an events board up to let you know the exciting happs.

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They have a contest going on right now that you can enter on Tioga Sequoia’s website.  It asks you to snap a picture or a video of you and your craft and post it on social media with the hashtag #CraftOutLoud.  Sounds awesome, maybe I will enter…

This was the second time I had been here and I enjoyed it this time better because the weather was fairer.  The big, open warehouse and outside seating area are not good in the extremes of weather that Fresno goes through.  That is really the only complaint I have about visiting Tioga Sequoia Brewing Co. and that’s nothing they have any control over.

I travel up to Oakhurst a couple times a year and I will definitely be back for more beers at @TiogaSequoia.  I ended up polishing off two pints and grabbed some 22 oz. bottles to take home with me and share with my friends.  I can’t wait to go back for more!

 

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Beers I drink, Breweries

Sequoia Brewing Company

I got to @SequoiaBrewCo in #Fresno just before happy hour was over.  The happy hour lasts from 3:00 to 6:00 on weekdays and we were seated and ordering at 5:45.  We had just been on the road for 5 hours and we were ready for those $3.50 beers.

Sequoia Brewing Company is a gastropub in a somewhat small building in the Tower District of Fresno, CA.  They serve beer brewed on site and food that runs the gamut from yummy appetizers to full-course dinners.  There are tables and booths and an outside seating area as well as a bar you can cozy up to, if it’s not too crowded.

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When we got there, it was pretty crowded because it was #happyhour on a Friday evening, it cleared up when 6:00 had come and gone.

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The first beer I had was a Sequoia Pale Ale.  It is a 5.7% smooth ale with light hops and a little nutty tasting.  The old man tried a General Sherman IPA, a whopper at 7.5% ABV.  He found the taste to be similar to hops in a pine box.  It was a little sweet at first with a smell like a humidor.  We also ordered deep-fried pretzel bites that came with a flavorful mustard sauce.  They were delectable.  They tasted like hot dogs from being in the fryer.  That might sound weird, but it was a familiar taste – then mixed with the mustard, it was awesome.  It was a good deep-fried experience.

At 5:55, we were asking our waiter to order us another round before happy hour was over.  We both tried the Big Horn Red IPA.   It is mild tasting for an IPA but looks good at 7.2%.  It was smooth, roasted malty flavored with a clean and dry finish.

We also were hungry after being on the road so long.  We ordered a small cheese pizza to split and I was excited to eat once it came.  But it was not so good.  Maybe with toppings or meat, it is better.  But we were not impressed with the pizza.  I’ve had better pizza off of a food truck.  That didn’t stop the old man from finishing it.

Sequoia Brewing Company has 18 beers on tap and I’ve only delved into 3 of them.  There are plenty more to be had. I have found that the IPAs in Central and Northern California breweries are a bit lighter than they are down in Southern CA (with the exception of Sierra Nevada).  That’s why I love going to the different breweries in different towns I visit or pass through.  I get to try new flavors and experiment with my taste buds.

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There is merchandise you can buy, such as tee shirts.

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You can purchase growlers and 22oz bottles, too.

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They have an awesome, nature-inspired décor that I like, but I had a little bit too much of the dead deer heads and asses.

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Sequoia Brewing has a philosophy: #DrinkLocal Eat Local and I couldn’t agree more.  Like the saying over the door reminds us, try to branch out and visit as many of these awesome gastropub/breweries as you can while they are still around.  I won’t turn my nose up at a Budweiser, but i’d prefer to drink locally crafted beers any day of the week.

 

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