Alex Costa opened the doors to The Mad Duck Neighborhood Grill & Taphouse just over five years ago with his friends and business partners - all of them unsure of how it would work out. As Costa put it, “It was tough asking people to loan money to a bunch of 28-year-olds.” They’re now a bunch of successful 33-year-olds who will be expanding to a new location that is both a pub and brewery at Campus Pointe by Fresno State.
Opening the first location was tough and a risk, but for Costa and co., they knew it was time to start on their own for the chance to create something unique to really put themselves into. The idea behind Mad Duck, Costa said, was always to be a brewery-pub. Due to a lack of funds (and lack of experience in brewing beer), they decided to start with just the pub. The dream of the brewery never went away, Costa said. He and a friend got to work in 2011, brewing beer at Costa’s home, honing their craft.
Costa is thrilled to be opening the brewery and to begin serving Mad Duck’s own unique brews, but is still very modest regarding their success. He credits local breweries and restaurants that have been instrumental in the craft beer movement in Clovis.
“There are a lot of wonderful brewers in this town that have been doing a great job of keeping the brewing tradition alive,” Costa said.
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The California style will be very present when the brewery opens. These beers are made so you can enjoy one or two while out on Mad Duck’s patio on a summer day without it weighing you down with a heavy body.
“We believe in hops, we believe in flavor. It’s a very mild California style where we add a lot of hops specifically to bring out the flavor of the farming process,” Costa said. “We’ve found that our beers are very representative of the natural flavors that come out in brewing.”
The result was a really nice balance of wonderful flavor, with just enough bitterness.
“It became our goal to make more mild-bodied beers that are a little bit drier, that still embraced the wonderful California brewing tradition of being hop-forward, while also embraced the local ingredients.”
Mad Duck is beginning to roll out a more summer-friendly menu. With things warming up, it’s a perfect time to enjoy a wonderful salad.
“Expect to see a lot of green, citrus, strawberries, heirloom tomatoes, Panzanella, tomato mozzarella, and things along those lines,” Costa said.
With asparagus coming into season, a chilled asparagus salad will be a featured special soon. Upon Costa’s recommendation, I enjoyed the steak salad and sweet potato fries, which, as Costa very accurately put it, are “absolutely baffling in the sense of how good they are.”
“The idea of the Mad Duck has always been to be a chef-driven kitchen. [Executive Chef Mario Velasquez] has only made it better with his team of chefs. He is the beating heart of the Mad Duck.”
Costa said a goal of the brewery was to develop a culture around their beer that enables you to identify which brew pairs with your meal or your mood.
“I feel like I was almost born again in 2009 when we started working on the first location,” Costa said. “I certainly feel like I’ve been born again in 2013-2014 working on the brewery. Thankfully, the family here is so wonderful and strong. It’s allowed us to persevere, it’s been an incredible experience. I couldn’t be happier with it. They’re doing a wonderful job. If you eat at the same place and never get bored, that’s a good sign.”
The Mad Duck at Campus Pointe will be opening in roughly six to seven weeks, but keep your eyes and ears open for a grand opening date. Follow Mad Duck on Facebook and Twitter for updates on when you can experience their brand new lineup of their very own brews in the new shopping center!