Valley Craft Beer

Another brewery headed for downtown (it’s a distillery too)

A new brewer and distillery is taking over the Fresno Radiator Shop at 411 Broadway, south of downtown.
A new brewer and distillery is taking over the Fresno Radiator Shop at 411 Broadway, south of downtown.

Yet another brewery is planning to open in downtown Fresno.

Newcomer 411 Broadway Ale & Spirits will specialize in sour beers and also plans to make spirits like gin and whiskey. It’s named after its address at 411 Broadway St., south of Yoshi Now! near Highway 41. An August opening is planned.

The news comes at a happening time for breweries in downtown Fresno: Border Hop Brewing Co. recently announced it had signed a lease at 721 Broadway St. in a block of warehouses that will be redeveloped. Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Co., which is downtown already, bought the former Team Amvets Thrift Store for an expansion. Full Circle Brewing Co. has new owners, a new look and new beer. And HoP PK, a gastropub by the owners of House of Pendragon Brewing Co. and Visalia’s Pita Kabob, is coming soon to 820 Van Ness Ave.

Several other breweries are reportedly looking for space downtown in what could become a brewery district.

The partners behind 411 are leasing the former Fresno Radiator spot and are just beginning work on the building. They plan to paint murals on the outside and are looking for artists. A bar with seating is planned for inside the 1,500-square-foot building. A large alley and backyard gives the business another 3,000 square feet for seating and a stage for musicians.

They are still working on getting several necessary permits to open the brewery and distillery.

The sour beers that 411’s owners want to make are getting increasingly popular. It’s a different process than how most beer is made, similar to how it was made hundreds of years ago, says Juan Martinez, one of the partners behind 411. Today, most brewers make beer in closed tanks with a clean, modern strain of yeast. But the sours at 411 will be made in an open tank without a top, using a wild yeast and a bacteria. These differences create the unique flavors of sour ales.

“The sour beers are the most basic you get,” he says. “It’s almost an uncontrolled environment.”

The aroma the yeast gives off has been described as a smelling like horse sweat, hay or a barnyard, though the beers don’t taste like that, Martinez says. The taste can range from mild and refreshing to an extremely sour lemonade taste.

The distillery would also be something new for downtown. A change in California law that went into effect in January 2016 treats small distilleries like breweries or wineries, allowing them to sell bottles of spirits at tastings and hold private events, among other changes.

The owners at 411 will start producing gin and vodka first because they don’t take long to make and then whiskey. They are even talking about someday making absinthe, the anise-flavored liquor with a high alcohol content.

Their building is a 5-minute walk from Tioga-Sequoia. Owners of 411 want to be part of a growing hub of breweries downtown, says Joshua Soleno, one of the partners.

“A lot of people see it as competition,” he says. “We see it as a brotherhood.”

Bethany Clough: 559-441-6431, @BethanyClough