Written by Edward Smith
A Fresno brewer, a San Diego brewer and a chocolatier all walk into a bar.
I’m sure you’ve heard this one before. The punch line — a limited release chocolate beer with a bit of the border and a bit of the Central Valley.
Full Circle Brewing Co. and Rocky Mountain Chocolate got together with San Diego’s Belching Beaver to develop a brew made with chocolate and cherries called the Fudgement Day Black Forest Fudge Stout to be debuted Saturday.
“The idea was to make a stout that has a little bit of everything,” said brewer Brad Gaines of Full Circle, who said Belching Beaver is known for its “off-the-wall” stouts.
The collaboration involved developing a mash fitting for the made-on-site fudge coming out of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in Fresno.
Caramel was added to the mix along with pomegranate arils, vanilla and cherries — which give it the Black Forest part of the name.
Derived from a German-style cake, Black Forest-style desserts are known for their cherry filling. The fudge was made right at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and brought over the morning of the brew.
The chocolate taste stands out along with some fruit notes from the cherries, Gaines said. The vanilla is pretty strong.
“It finishes somewhat dry and it’s not a really thick stout — especially in this hot weather,” said Gaines, who suggests a dessert to go along with the beer, especially ice cream or donuts.
About 30 barrels of Fudgement Day are being made and distributed by Full Circle Brewing in Fresno’s Chinatown as pints poured from the tap, party kegs for home tasting and to other breweries carrying the Full Circle brand.
A barrel is about the equivalent of two party kegs. Full Circle is also selling 100 cases with no limits on volume, so customers looking to stock up should make their moves fast.
It’ll be available following a release party at Full Circle at 620 F St. from noon to 5 p.m. that will have food trucks as well fudge, caramel apples and gourmet chocolates from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.
The collaboration began when the Full Circle crew went down to San Diego to help create a beer for the Belching Beaver called Crash Couch. Representatives talked ingredients and ratios, and together, recipes were developed and insight was traded between breweries.
According to beer licensing rules, wherever the beer is brewed is where the rights to revenue are retained, but logos and brand names will be shared on beer cans at both Full Circle and Belching Beaver and locations where they distribute.
Full Circle brewers pride themselves on their juicier IPAs, and they created their lighter pale ale exclusively for Belching Beaver.
And, as is good form for collaboration, the next step was bringing the people from San Diego to Fresno.
“These big brewers come to what’s perceived as our little city and contribute to our beer scene down here,” said Arthur Moye, Full Circle president and CEO.
But here at home, Full Circle had a secret weapon.
The next part of the collaboration came when LaTricia Adkins wanted to combine aspects from her Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory store with Full Circle Brewing, of which she is a co-owner.
She saw the opportunity to grow both businesses. “Let one help the other,” she said.
“The beer that we make is really good quality,” Adkins said. “It has its own flavor and I thought it would pair really well with gourmet chocolate.”
The collaboration goes beyond just flavor profiles. People get to know what’s going on in different parts of the state.
“People start to say, ‘what’s this Full Circle? What’s this Fresno beer scene that’s coming alive?’” said Moye. “It’s super important for the beer market to do this.”
Collaboration means name recognition for people traveling up-and-down the state. They might see Full Circle as a place to stop in what some in Fresno are trying to bill as a brewery district along with Tioga-Sequoia, Hop PK and Zack’s Brewing.
“It’s credibility here, but it also gives us credibility out there,” Moye said.
That’ll help when Full Circle begins distributing to Bakersfield and Sacramento, as is the next step of the plan. With the newly expanded system they put in at the beginning of the year, they were able to increase production 15-fold. That means putting out a lot more cans on shelves. At Total Wine in River Park, Full Circle beer can now be found at eye level behind glass, chilled and ready to drink.
They have orders for BevMo and Costco, and their beers line the shelves of the numerous liquor stores offering local craft brews.
Shelf-space at liquor stores and expansion from collaboration is a kind of first fruits for investors who bought into the online public equity offering Full Circle began in October of last year.
Since then, they’ve switched platforms to Wefunder and still have shares available for purchase. The ownership team is halfway to its goal of $300,000 in investment.
“The whole strategy of expansion has been part of our plan all along,” Moye said. “This is the implementation side of what we’re doing.”