Food & Drink

Clovis’ craft beer scene is heating up: ‘We see a lot of potential out here’

You may not think of Clovis and its cowboy culture as a hot spot for craft beer. But that could be changing, as this growing city has begun attracting craft beer makers who see the potential for creating something special.

The city is already home to four breweries or tasting rooms, with a fifth to open soon and a sixth in the works. A few are clustered in an industrial area just east of Old Town Clovis, tucked in among muffler shops, gravel companies and warehouses. It’s the kind of vibe some craft brewers appreciate.

It’s not about being fancy, they say, it’s about making solid beers that people like.

“We see a lot of potential out here,” said Dave Dechow, one of the brewers at Tactical Ops Brewing at 1131 Railroad Ave.

Several craft brewers said they are drawn to Clovis because of the fierce loyalty to local business, the tight-knit community and a growing fan base of craft beer drinkers.

Tactical Ops, one of three breweries in Clovis, opened a new brewery and tasting room three months ago to lots of thirsty customers. Its original location remains on Shields between Fowler and Armstrong avenues.

The new brewery and tasting room in Clovis has a military theme, seats 49 and offers 12 to 14 beers, including stouts, IPAs, and ales.

Recently, Dechow and fellow brewer Brett Elsberry were putting the final touches on their popular honey blonde ale that’s made with locally sourced honey from Enzo’s Table in Clovis.

Elsberry said weekends are busy and customers are drinking as much beer as the brewery can produce.

“It’s very possible that we may be looking for a third location,” Ellsberry said. “We are growing and trying to keep our beer in stock. And all of this is just by word of mouth and social media.”

As a testament to the brewery’s growth, Ellsberry recently left his day job as a pharmacy technician after 18 years to work full-time at the brewery.

“We are pretty optimistic about things right now,” he said.

Other breweries that have opened in Clovis include 559 Beer at 356 Pollasky Ave. and Zone 9 Brewing at 1450 Tollhouse Road.

On the horizon are Kings River Brewing Company at 1050 San Jose Ave. that expects to open in about 30 days and MachineHead Brewing Co., 52 W. Palo Alto Ave. , is planning to open this fall.

All of that is in addition to the House of Pendragon tap room at 1345 N. Willow and Riley’s Brew Pub, 2674 Owens Mountain Pkwy.

Clovis city officials couldn’t be happier about the organic growth of the local craft beer scene. Shawn Miller, business development manager for the City of Clovis, said the city is helping when it can, but the breweries are truly doing it on their own.

“We are just trying to clear the decks and left stuff happen,” Miller said.

Miller sees the potential of creating a special event linking the city’s trail system with several of the breweries in the area. The Old Town Clovis Craft Beer Crawl that features a mix of California breweries is already a popular springtime event.

“We know there is a value in having people come to town for special events,” Miller said.

Elsberry said there may be just a handful of breweries now, but there will be more.

Brad Edmunds, an owner of Zone 9 Brewing, agrees that the city is ripe for more breweries. He said people in Clovis are eager for more dining, drinking and entertainment options. Plus, his customers are into trying new and different craft beers. Zone 9 brews a variety of beer, including a peach hefeweizen, a German style wheat beer; a coconut coffee porter and a New England-style IPA that’s infused with mango.

“It’s fruity on the front, creamy in the middle and hoppy on the end,” Edmunds said.

Two of the newest breweries in Clovis will be open in the coming months.

King Chan is the brewer and owner of Kings River Brewing. His brewery and tasting room is not far from the others in south east Clovis and hopes to be open in about 30 days.

His tasting room has rustic and Americana touches and will accommodate about 25 people.

Chan, who has been a home brewer for 15 years, is skilled at making several styles of beer including a milk stout, an IPA, and an ale with a clean, crisp taste of a lager.

Chan is confident that people visiting the Clovis breweries will find enough variety in beer styles to satisfy everyone’s tastes.

One of the cities newest brewers, Rob Arabian of MachineHead Brewing Company, promises to bring some more excitement to the budding craft brew scene. Arabian’s brewery will be open this fall in a new industrial complex on Palo Alto, west of Clovis and south of Herndon avenues.

“We are going to be launching several different type of programs that a lot of people usually drive to places like San Diego for,” Arabian said.

Arabian is careful not to reveal too much about his beers, other than to say he will be making some “barrel-aged stuff and juicy IPAs.”

He also said there will be plenty of space for food trucks to park and he may do some beer-themed dinners. Arabian says he didn’t think twice about where he wanted to open his brewery.

“I really love the vibe of this city,” he said. “It’s a place that appreciates classic, local favorites, but also is home to hip new restaurants, coffee shops and breweries. It feels like the perfect fit for us.”