Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Celebrate St. Patrick’s day with Irish food and green drinks

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Irish or not, this is an excuse to eat some delicious Irish food — maybe even some green food — and drink some Guinness. Here’s a rundown of what restaurants in the area are serving in honor of the day. This is not a comprehensive list, so if you’ve got something to add, tell us in the comments.

Swiggs starts celebrating when the doors open at 11 a.m. with $1 Guinness. As part of the “Guinness waterfall,” the prices get higher as the day wears on. Details here. (And sorry, that delicious looking corned beef sandwich at right isn’t available locally. It’s a pic from photographer Andre J. Jackson of the Detroit Free Press.)

Of course a place called Irish O’Sullivan’s is celebrating St. Paddy’s Day today. They have an outdoor beer garden, a DJ and live music, specialty drinks and Irish nachos. See their menu here.

Shenanigans Irish Pub & Grill

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Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

* Bad-ass drawing by David Witt.

1. Tim Burton Tribute Art Show
“I’ve come for your daughter Chuck.” — Beetlejuice

2. Disoriented Comedy
There’s a pun in the name.

3. Kuppajoe’s final show
Finally, a real reason for emo kids to cry. Just kidding, this place is an institution and its loss will be felt.

4. La Dee Da
A band at least as newsworthy as the rapper-plastic surgeon who is the Michelangelo of buttocks.

5. Fauxgazi
While the idea of a Fugazi tribute band seems so wrong, hearing “Waiting Room” would be so right.

For the concert-specific events check out my weekly BANDGEEEEEK post.

Budweiser hates craft beers (and hipsters)

I completely missed the Superbowl, and by extension the commercials that ran during the game.

Luckily, social media is there to fill in the gaps, otherwise I would have totally missed this gem from Budweiser.

The commercial was one of two the macro brewery ran during the game. While the other was the typical heart-string tug we’ve come to expect from these things (the puppy! The Clydesdales!), the “Brewed the Hard Way” ad was a straight-on attack on craft beer and the people who drink it.

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TONIGHT: Ozmosis Happy Hour

Tioga Sequoia’s Beer Garden is what I’ve wanted in downtown for years. It’s a low-key spot where you can hangout and sample really solid craft beer without being overly saturated with hipsterness.

Also, its’ walking distance from where I live, which is a bonus and a half.

It’s good to hear that Mike Oz‘ monthly Ozmosis Happy Hour, which he does in conjunction with his radio show on New Rock 104, is taking up residence in the garden this year.

If you remember, the event had been jumping between different venues/bars around town. Having the Happy Hour at one spot gives it consistency, a struggle for lots of events around town. Each month will feature a rotating roster of live music, food trucks and other Fresno fare.

For January, local singer/songwriter Johnathan Sterling will be providing the entertainment. La Elegante will serves up tacos (arguably some of the best in town) and local crafter Janice Keith of Nola Love will be selling work — like a handy dandy beer caddy. It’s made of wood.

Tioga Sequoia Brewing Company will be pouring its new Belgian Quad Ale (which has me intrigued to no end). Also expect prizes and music from Mike Oz and the New Rock crew.

The whole thing kicks off at 6 p.m. and runs until 9 p.m.
There’s no charge to get in.

The next happy hour is set for Feb. 19.

Here’s what’s up with Pinot Wine Bar

Pinot Wine Bar in the Tower District has been closed for a while now and some of you have been wondering what’s up. The picture at right is the sign that’s posted in the window.

Well, here’s what I know. A while back Juan Leija bought the business from Daniel Renteria, the wine lover who founded it, as Daniel wanted to spend a little more time enjoying his retirement. Leija has said from the beginning that he planned to shut down for a few weeks, do some work inside and reopen under a new name and concept. That’s happening a little sooner than expected, sped along by the transfer of the liquor license. 

“Pinot in and of itself as wine bar is no longer in existence,” Leija says.

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Five Things You Should Do This Weekend


If a weekend at the movies seem boring …

1. Rush Day/Ozmosis Holiday Happy Hour
Beer + coffee. Need I say more? OK, Tioga-Sequoia + Cafe Corzon. More? Mike Oz + New Rock 104.

2. From Indian Lakes
Indie-rock fans will want to keep an eye on this band. This’ll be your chance to see them before they blow up.

3. Crescent Concert
Eva Scow curates a world-rhythm jazz concert.

4. A Peter White Christmas
Your holiday favorites rendered in smooth jazz.

5. Christmas Light Displays
Let the spirit of the season wash over you in a wave of twinkling lights.

For music-specific options, by sure to check out our weekly BANDGEEK post.

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend


1. CalaGala
The reason for the season.

2. “Phantom of the Opera”
Silent horror film + pipe organ + Warnors Theatre = a step into the past. Seriously. When the theater screen this last year, 1,000 people showed.

3. Movember kick-off shave party
It’s not just for hipsters.

4. Offal Dinner
Can’t decide between the cow’s feet and the pickled tongue? Splurge and have both. It’s Halloween.

5. Arrogant Bastard Day
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.

Here’s bonus five for fans of live music.

1. The Purple Ones
2. Ape Machine
3. Flyleaf
4. Sleepover Disaster
5. The Cured

For a full list of music-specific choices see this week’s Bandgeek post.
And this is relevant for a few more hours at least.

Celebrate 17 years of arrogance at BC’s Pizza and Beer


OKAY. This is the best named-event of the week: Arrogant Bastard Day.

The event, in honor of Stone Brewing Company’s Arrogant Bastard Ale, is being celebrated this Saturday at BC’s Pizza and Beer in Clovis with tap-takeover.

Arrogant Bastard was first released by the San Diego brewing company Nov. 1, 1997, and according to lore its introduction was “a shot across the bow of fizzy yellow beer, fortelling the craft revolution ahead.” If you’ve ever tasted the (capital B) Bastard (or any of Stone’s brews for that matter), you understand.

This is your chance to get some Stone swag (more than 20 specialty men and women Stone Brewing t-shirts will be available, along with Stone pint glasses). More importantly, this is your chance to taste 15 different Stone brews. And on tap to boot.

Be warned, this ain’t your papa’s session ale.

The list includes: 2012 “Vintage” Double Bastard Ale; 2014 Double Bastard Ale; Bang Bang – Bourbon Barrel Aged Amber Ale; Lukcy Basartd Ale; Old Guardian Oak-Smoked – Barleywine; Arbalest – Belgian Pale Ale; Arrogant Bastard Ale; Bourbon Barrel Aged Arrogant Bastard; Imperial Russian Stout; Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers; Stochasticity Project: Hibiscusicity; Stochasticity Project: Quadotriticale; Stone 18th Anniversary IPAl; Stone Passion Project and Xocoveza Mocha Stout Collaboration w/Chris Banker and Insurgente.

If the list needs some explanation, you should probably just go and ask.

TONIGHT: Oktoberfest at the Hook and Ladder


I don’t always go out drinking in Clovis, but when I do, it’s at the Hook and Ladder. It’s the official bar of Team Fugly (that’s my league-night bowling team, FYI).

Tonight the bar is running a Samuel Adams Oktoberfest special. It’s one of those take-the-glass deals. Six bucks gets you a pint glass and $3 refills for the night (while supplies last).

So, if Tuesday is your Friday, or if you’re in your 20s and can handle week-night drinking, this could be a fun time.

One can only hope that someone will lead the bar in a rendition of “Country Roads,” which is an Oktoberfest thing (at least according to this video. Watch it on the jump).

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Food reviews: Guri’s Grub House, Jack’s Urban Eats and Beer to the People


Officially, I’m a music blogger.

I also love to eat and this is an exciting time for food lovers in Fresno. No, I’m not talking the Fresno Fair.

As my colleagues Bethany Clough and Bob Rodriguez have reported, several hip new restaurants and drinking establishments have opened in the last month or so, including a gastropub, a small-chain modern-day Hof Brau and a bottle shop.

Below are my reviews of each. If you’ve been to any of the three, we’d love to know your thoughts. Add your reviews in the comments section.

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Wine tasting at Meux Home with Grocery Outlet

Here’s an unusual place to host a wine tasting: The Meux Home Museum. The lawn of that gorgeous 1888 Victorian home downtown will be the site of Grocery Outlet’s first of many monthly wine tastings beginning Friday. The event, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., is a fundraiser for the museum and costs $10. No reservations or tickets needed, just make sure you bring your ID no matter how old you are because you won’t get in without it. Grocery Outlet is donating all the wine. 

The event was inspired by Chris Caillier, the local owner/operator of the new Grocery Outlet across the intersection at Tulare and R streets. “I looked at that mansion and said, ‘We need to have a wine tasting there,’” he said. The store is partnering with the West Shaw Grocery Outlet for this event and all the area Grocery Outlet stores will be involved in future monthly wine tastings. They will eventually include food, live music and beer tasting. 

It’s also a way for Grocery Outlet to bring some attention to its wine and beer department. Like many of its products, the stores gets overruns of wine when wineries have too much or change a label, for example. Caillier says the department is a good for way for wine drinkers who want to experiment but not spend a lot of money. Most bottles cost between $4.99 and $6.99 with the occasional $1.99 bottle.

Most of the beer for sale at Grocery Outlet isn’t overstock, but comes directly from the sellers. The stores sell some interesting craft beers, including Tioga-Sequioa beer and Firestone (and I hear Riley’s is often sold at local Grocery Outlets too).

TONIGHT: Surf rock with the Neptunes

neptunesHere’s another thing to add to a long list of hip stuff you shouldn’t miss this weekend. Fresno surf-rock icons The Neptunes play tonight at Gazebo Gardens Nursery. This is a rare local show and a good bet for fans of Ventures-style, reveb-laden rock and roll.

Think, Davy Jones’ house band. In the words of one fan: “These guys make Dike Dale look like Lawrence Welk.”

The band plays at 6 and 8:30 p.m.

The show is part of the gazebo’s popular beer-and-food truck gathering that happens Friday and Saturday nights.

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Cheap pizza and beer cocktails

BlastPizza_IMG_4426-EditAnyone in the mood for pizza and beer? Blast 825, the latest concept by the Me-N-Ed’s folks at Sierra Vista Mall, turns 1 today. To celebrate, it’s selling $3.65 pizzas all day. (These are their pick-your-own toppings 10″ personal pizzas that are blasted in an 825-degree oven.) There will also be a drawing for free pizza for a year and a nonprofit shindig in which local groups compete to make the best pizza and win a cash prize.

And on the beer front, Yard House in River Park has 125 beers on tap and is about to give you even more options with beer cocktails. The drinks combine beer and cocktail ingredients (duh), such as the Dreamsicle, a grown-up version of the childhood treat with white ale, whipped (as in cream) vodka and Cointreau. For the hop heads, there’s the West Coast Shandy, with the House IPA and citrus flavors from X-Rated Fusion liqueur.

Pendragon: beer and barnwood

photo(75)The House of Pendragon tasting room is open in Clovis. You can read all about the place and the locally made beer it serves in today’s column. But what I didn’t have room for in the column is all the cool features of the tasting room itself. All the wood you see is reclaimed wood, mostly from the owner’s family farm in Sanger. The wall of wood with a big metal sign is the first thing people notice when they walk in.

Both were done by Sean Dempsey of The Earth Builders (you may have seen his work around town. Some of it is at Peeve’s Public House). Pendragon owner Tommy Caprelian took Dempsey on a tour of the farm to scour for materials and he tells me Dempsey got a bit excited. So, some of the wood you see on the walls comes from old grape trays. The bar is made from old barn wood and its supports are the curving wood of old wine barrels. Wine barrels also serve as tables. There’s another table in the corner with an old metal conveyer that boxes of grapes once rolled across. Keep scrolling for a picture of the table.

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Beer for breakfast? Tioga-Sequoia unveils new breakfast stout

breakfast stoutFresno brewery Tioga-Sequoia is releasing its Rush Hour breakfast stout this weekend. Hold on a minute. A breakfast beer? While die-hard beer fans are probably rolling their eyes right now (yes, breakfast stouts are a thing), this is a new concept for a lot of us. I’m sure there’s people out there who drink beer for breakfast. (And they may not be who you think. I’ve heard several stories of doctors or emergency medical folks who work the night shift popping open a cold one at the end of their shift — which just happens to be at 6 a.m.) But you certainly don’t have to drink it for breakfast. This beer is more about pairing two flavors together — the chocolately sweet stout with the taste of roasted coffee beans, says Tioga-Sequoia marketing manager Michael Cruz.

“It’s like you’re drinking breakfast,” he says. “When you pop open a bottle and pour it into your glass, it’s like smelling a cup of coffee.”

The brewery partnered with local coffee roaster and coffee shop Cafe Corazon in the Tower District. Owner Leo Rios got some hard-to-find Colombian beans that he roasted specifically for the beer. Tioga-Sequoia cold brewed them along with the beer and the result is the limited release of Rush Hour (rush hour referring to both the time of day and the rush you get from caffeine in coffee).

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Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

If you’re not out looking for a missing airliner

5thing-3-14-1`41.) “Veronica Mars
This is being dual released in theaters and on video on demand. It’s not opening in Fresno, but you can get it on all of your digital devices. For those into marathon watching TV, you could watch the complete series AND the film and never have to leave your couch.

2.) Tool
Rumor is, the band will play just seven songs. BUT, it’s Tool, so that could be more than an hour of music.

3.) Visalia Irish Fest
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day early. And with good beer.
4.) Absurd Masterworks
I’m not extremely well versed in absurdist theater. I did read Eugene Ionesco’s “Rhinocéros” during my college days (in its original French). I also have a translated copy, because it’s good stuff. Here, Fresno state presents short works from Ionesco and Samuel Beckett.

5.) Cloudship
Cloudship is Brandon Freeman (Local Honey, Luchador) + Jonathan Napole (Gods and Kings, Before Perils).

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

5thing1-17-3Now that we are getting that drought thing pretty much handled

1.) Nitro Circus
Dude hits a 50-foot ramp in a wheelbarrow. And lands it. Or does he? The DVD series-turned MTV show brings its first-ever US tour to Fresno.

2.) Cherry Blue Storms
Los Angeles band looks to bring back the iconic guitar riff, with its brand of psychedelic power pop. A fundraiser for Food Not Bombs, featuring Blake Jones and the Trike Shop.
3.) Sour beer week
BC’s Pizza and Beer is always up on the brew trends. For fans of rare, won’t-get-this-anywhere else beers.

5things1-17-2 4.) Bunny Brunch
Tower Urban Family Farm does a kitchen take over to create a farm-to-fork brunch. And yes, it features farm-raised rabbit. Though a vegetarian option is available. Here’s what food tastes like when it doesn’t come from a supermarket wrapped it plastic.

5.) Random writer’s workshop
Let’s face it, your novel could use work.

Tonight: The Normal School release party/benefit with Lance Canales and the Flood

Today is Giving Tuesday (or #givingtuesday, for the hashtag crowd). I could give you a long list of support-worthy causes. Instead, I will suggest The Normal School, the bi-annual literary magazine based out of Fresno State.

The magazine is the type of thing Fresno needs more of. It features nonfiction, fiction, poetry, criticism and journalism and is a great catalyst for local talent, especially given its emphasis on boundary-challenging and/or innovative content, form or focus.

To get a feel for what the magazine is about, show up 7 p.m. tonight at Peeve’s Public House on the Fulton Mall to celebrate The Normal School’s 11th issue. It will be literary — with readings from Corrinne Hales, Randa Jarrar, Steven Church and Fresno State MFA students. There will also be music from Lance Canales and the Flood. The event is free and open to the public, but you can subscribe or donate to the magazine, which goes a long way toward printing issue No. 12.

Before the party, Canales will be at Fresno State to discuss songwriting, music making and the like. The discussion starts at 3 p.m. in the Peter’s Business Building, room 194. Email to reserve a spot and a parking pass.

Tonight: Brew Bingo at Peeve’s Public House

1236062_540558375998859_422588061_nYou may recall a piece I wrote back in July on the rising popularity of bar games–specifically Brew Bingo. Brew Bingo is pretty much like it sounds. You take your grandma’s game of luck, mix in a few tasty alcoholic beverages and … BINGO! (to make that bad pun).

At the time I wrote the story there was a monthly game hosted at Fresno Brewing Company, the coffeehouse/bar down on the Fulton Mall. It was a successful weeknight event that drew a large and diverse (relatively speaking) crowd. Well, Fresno Brewing Company is gone, but the game will continue. Peeve’s Public House and Local Market, which took over the FBC space will host its first Brew Bingo, 8 p.m. tonight.

I mention this because it’s another opportunity to get a sneak peak at the place — it’s not open officially until Sept. 16 — and because I will be tonight’s guest caller, along with nonprofit-volunteer-master Hilary Malveaux from Creative Fresno, Friends of the Library. The grand prize for the night is a round of golf (and a cart!) for four at Airways Golf Club.

Peeve’s will open at 6 p.m. for the event. Game time is at 8 p.m. In case you missed it last time, here’s a quick video of some Brew Bingo action. I will not be wearing a mank.

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BC’s Pizza & Beer’s 4th annual IPA festival

There was a time (and not too long ago) when asking for a Sierra Nevada at most restaurant/bars would get you a weird look.

You want an IP-what now? We’ve got Bud, Bud Light, Coors and Miller. Luckily for those of us with taste buds, those days are over and you can find a decent hoppy brew just about any place.

Not that BC’s Pizza & Beer is just anyplace, as is evident to anyone who’s ever seen its extensive beer menu, or been around for its annual IPA festival. The Clovis pizza/beer joint hosts the fourth annual IPA Beer Festival starting 11 a.m. Thursday. It will feature more than 60 IPAs available on draft and in bottles. These are beers from around the world. Some of them are hard to come by, so for the hard-core connoisseur (as opposed to the guys who will drink any old swill), this is going to be a treat.

On tap for the event (pun intended):

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The Fresno Craft Beer Festival isn’t in Fresno

Craft-Beer-LogoThe Fresno Craft Beer Festival bills itself as “the ONLY craft beer festival in Fresno.” Just one problem. It’s in Madera.

The event, which runs from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, May 11 and features 30 breweries, is at ApCal (which some may know as Appellation California). The wine tasting and event venue regularly hosts live music and other events on its big lawn with the 100-year-old oak tree. ApCal isn’t that far from Fresno. In fact, the boundary between Fresno and Madera counties follows the San Joaquin River and ApCal, on Avenue 7, is only 1.3 miles from the river via Highway 99.

The festival’s logo features the city of Fresno’s flag, though. And Facebooker Kiel Thomas Schmidt points out this language on the website promoting the festival:

“No more hot parking lot festivals or trying to find a parking spot in scary part of the city. Our place is beautiful, spacious, safe and FUN!”

Says Schmidt: “It also seems to slam both the Downtown Fresno’s Sudz in the City and Tower’s Oktoberfest. Though, I bet there won’t be any craft brewers at this one that weren’t at the other two.”

So what do you think, dear readers? Does it matter that the Fresno Craft Beer Festival isn’t in Fresno or is ApCal close enough? Are you offended by the apparent dis of the other beer festivals?

Upcoming: St. Patrick’s Day

I never really liked St. Patrick’s Day. While, I enjoy the story about the dude chasing snakes with a stick, there is that whole “wear-green-or-else” thing that puts me off.

Don’t pinch me bro.

People do celebrate the day (for an entire weekend it seems), so I put together a quick Post-No-Bills-style collection of event fliers for you. Feel free to included others in the comments or shoot a link to and I’ll add it in.

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Tonight: Green Flash tap takeover at BC’s Pizza

UPDATE: This event is actually TONIGHT (Thursday). If you thought you missed it, you still have time.

Image borrowed with gratitude from BC’s.

An admission: Until a few weeks ago, I had never been to BC’s Pizza and Beer. But people talked about its selection of import and craft beer, the hard-to-find stuff that most places have never heard of, much less carry.

Those people were right. I was not only impressed by the beer selection, I was a bit overwhelmed.

That’s preface to The Green Flash Tap Takeover happening at 4 p.m. at BC’s tonight. Green Flash is a San Diego brewery that has some of my favorite beers. The Double Stout is particularly amazing. Tonight, on tap, BC’s with have six Green Flash beers:

  • Green Flash 1st Anniversary American Strong Ale
  • Green Flash 5th Anniversary Double IPA
  • Green Flash 8th Anniversary Surf’s Up Symposium IPA
  • Green Flash Palate Wrecker Double IPA
  • Green Flash Le Freak Belgian Style IPA
  • Green Flash West Coast IPA

Order a pint and you get to keep the glass because that’s how these things work. If you go, please tell us all about it.

Fresno is a test market for Modelo Light

UntitledFresno doesn’t have an IKEA or a Dave & Buster’s, but guess what we do have that you won’t find pretty much anywhere else in the U.S.? Beer! Specifically, Modelo Light.

Fresno is a test market for Modelo Light. The Mexican beer Modelo has been around for a while, but Fresno is the first place to get the 90-calorie light version. It’s available in Mexico for years. The company that imports Modelo Light is pretty sure it’s going to do well here (the test is mostly of its marketing) and already plans to roll it out to the rest of the country. And yes, I realize this is the perfect opportunity for a Fresno joke. I’ll leave that up to you guys, but I personally think it’s kinda cool we’re getting the beer first.

The guy from the importing company described it with words like “bold flavor” and “refreshing attributes.” I bought a six pack last weekend to test it out and the word “yummy” is how my amateur beer-drinking self would describe it. For a bold beer, it wasn’t overpowering.

You can get the beer at several local Hispanic supermarkets that I’ll list at the end of the blog. Tower Sports Club also serves Modelo Light.

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A letter from the new Mike Oz


For those following the count-down clock, we’ve hit the zero hour (to the chagrin of at least one user). Those following me over from my previous gig at Fresno Famous will need no introduction, but the rest of y’all probably want to know what I am about.

First off, I like lists. So:

  •  Downtown. When the Vagabond Lofts were built in 2006, I was the first to move in. Literally, the very first resident in the complex (OK, I had a roommate). I was what then-council member Henry T. Perea called an urban pioneer. I fully buy into the idea that a city is only as good as its downtown, and that Fresno can be (heck, it already is) a vibrant, cultural hot-spot. To that end, I’ll be keeping up with the city’s efforts to get people back to the urban core. For now, check out I Believe in Downtown Fresno. You don’t have to take the pledge, but you can at least get informed.
    To keep from being all north Fresno vs. south, I also have an affinity for Fig Garden Village and the Tower District and have no problem hanging out at River Park when I need to.

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