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.
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.
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 and 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.