Bethany Clough

Riley’s Brew Pub opens in Clovis with local beer and a top restauranteur

File this one under one of the most talked about places of the year: Riley’s Brew Pub.

The barely opened local restaurant and craft beer pub in Clovis is owned by the man behind the Elbow Room restaurant and puts Riley’s craft beer made in Madera at center stage.

The brew pub took over the former Clovis Hofbrau at 2674 Owens Mountain Parkway. It’s essentially behind the Starbucks at Highway 168 and Temperance Avenue in Clovis.

There’s a lot of players involved in this one, so imagine what they all bring to the table: a few Elbow Room chefs given the freedom to create a new menu of upscale pub food. Riley’s Brewing Co. owner Dan Riley agreeing to let the restaurant carry 12 beers on tap, from the hard orange cream soda that’s getting rave reviews to its IPA. And lastly, Mike Shirinian of the Elbow Room and several partners who have opened more than a dozen restaurants among them.

First, the beer. Since this is a brew pub, it only carries beer made by Riley’s, most of which is made at its brewery in Madera. It also carries wine, cocktails, scotch and Riley’s vodka, and will soon sell Riley’s whiskey and gin.

You can order a glass of beer, a flight of four small beers to sample, or a 64-ounce growler to take home. Soon, customers will be able to buy a “crowler,” a 52-ounce can of beer designed to be portable and shared into glasses at say, a picnic.

And the brew pub’s customers will be the first to sample seasonal and experimental brews made in a small brewing operation inside the restaurant. They’ve affectionately dubbed those the “mad scientist” brews.

Side note: Riley also runs a steel fabrication business and his company made the tanks in the restaurant and the ones at the brewery.

The beer is also used in the food, like the pretzel served with a beer cheese made from the Cougar pale ale, Havarti, cheddar and jack cheeses.

Sometimes at brew pubs, the food can take a backseat to the beer. But not here.

“We want this place to be known for great food,” Shirinian says.

For the tri-tip plate and sandwich, the chefs make a sauce that takes three days, with bones and vegetables stewing in a stock and a red-wine reduction with rosemary and shallots. The meat is served with the sauce after it’s slow cooked for hours.

Chicken wings get soaked in a house-made brine of their own and served with the restaurant’s own honey Sriracha barbecue sauce.

The brew pub is open 11 a.m. to midnight daily.

If you’ve been to its predecessor Clovis Hofbrau, expect to see something totally different.

The bar top with the cattle brands is gone. No more hitching post out back.

Shirinian wanted a restaurant that looked like nothing in the Valley, but still had a local feel. So they gutted the entire place and redid it all.

“This is one of the most exciting projects I’ve done,” he says. “We made a huge financial commitment because we love this building.”

The result is a modern mix of wood and metal.

A huge mural at the entrance features the visual story of the Riley’s family. It starts with Riley’s great grandfather and follows the family tradition of brewing beer down through the generations. There are photos of Riley and his wife selling their first bottle of beer at ApCal (the wine tasting and entertainment venue in Madera) and of Riley’s sons peeling ginger for the ginger beer.

Bethany Clough: 559-441-6431, @BethanyClough