The building at 1426 N. Van Ness has been unused since 2016. It used to play host to open-mic nights, live bands and events like Motown night. Photo by Edward Smith.
Written by Edward Smith
A public meeting was held Thursday night about renewing a liquor license for a potential new taproom in Fresno’s Tower District.
A proposal was filed with the City of Fresno’s Development Department to renew the conditional use permit to sell beer and host events at 1426 N. Van Ness Ave., which used to be a bar called Audie’s Olympic.
The location closed in 2016, and during that time, a conditional use permit was never renewed, according to Mark Standriff, director of communications for the City of Fresno. Since it is within 400 feet of a residential neighborhood, a public meeting had to be held before it goes to the next step of the permitting process.
Only eight or nine people came to the meeting, according to a post on Facebook.
The operational statement filed with the city in May proposed using the building to open a taproom where “consumers can come sample beer with certain scheduled entertainment events.”
Events may include live bands and open-mic nights — similar to when the space operated as Audie’s Olympic, and as Club Fred before that.
The proposal specifies a need for six employees. It will be open seven days a week.
Neither the property owners nor public meeting attendees were immediately available for comment.
Zack’s Brewing readies fall debut
Coming to Downtown Fresno’s Fulton Street is the long-awaited Zack’s Brewing Co.
Owner Gail Zack is hoping that renovation of the 107-year-old building will be finished by Labor Day for an October opening.
Zack and her husband, Steven, looked at more than 30 buildings before they decided on 712 Fulton St., which used to be a tobacco and candy company that is now across the street from Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Co.
When they purchased the building, it needed structural and electrical work. Three of the walls are brick and one is cinderblock, which Zack feels gives off the perfect brewery vibe.
“It has all the original wood beams in the ceilings,” she said. “We’ve been trying to get it back to its roots.”
They sandblasted the beams to get it down to the original exposed wood and plan on repurposing whatever they can.
They hope to reuse many of the old windows they had to replace, and even made tables out of the unused wood.
Zack likes the idea of being so close to Tioga-Sequoia’s beer garden.
“The brewers are cool with each other and it’s neat to see something that’s uniting us together all across the board,” she said. “There’s a craft beer for everybody. I love that.”
What separates Zack’s is their usage of cheese in their brews. They have a Smoked Gouda Porter, a Bleu Cheese IPA, a Goat Cheese Brown Ale and a Hot Hawaiian Pizza Gose, which Zack describes as tart and salty, tasting just like pizza.
“You think it would be funky but it pairs really well with his beer,” Zack said.
MachineHead Brewing Co. begins work to join Clovis brewing ranks
Slated to open in late 2018 or early 2019 is MachineHead Brewing Co. in Clovis.
Located at the industrial complex west of Clovis and Herndon avenues, owner Rob Arabian is constructing a 5,700-square-foot building from the ground up. It will have a tasting room and two aging rooms for the different kinds of beers that will be made.
Most notably, Arabian will be brewing sour beer and wild ales, which can take up to a year to brew. They need to be brewed separately from regular beers, requiring the extra space.
Brewers have to be careful of cross-contamination because the wild yeast strains will turn the clean beers sour. Even getting yeast on one’s clothes can turn a batch of beer.
The sour beers won’t be available until after the first year of opening, Arabian thinks, because of how long it takes to brew. Until then, customers will have access to regular brews while the sour beers age in wine barrels.
That means having twice the equipment other breweries might need.
“It’s a big investment and there’s a lot of patience that goes along with it,” said Arabian.
Being in the Central Valley means having close access to ingredients like strawberries, peaches, nectarines and cherries that can “go straight from the farm to the barrel,” Arabian said.
MachineHead—named after both the Deep Purple album Arabian’s father bought him and the technical name of the tuning peg setup for guitars — has been a concept in the making for the past five years. It began when his wife and co-owner, Jennifer, got him a home brew kit over six years ago. He soon wanted to make a living out of it.
“We’ve been fine tuning this brewery for such a long time it’s a perfect name for us,” Arabian said.
In Fresno and Clovis, the number of breweries is quickly reaching two dozen, and Arabian thinks there is plenty of room for more.
“In other cities, there can be a hundred breweries on average, if not more,” he said.
For the time being, he will continue managing the retail company has been with for the past 11 years until the brewery takes off.