Valley Craft Beer

Still no bodies or pastrami. Just beer. 3 years on, this Tower bar is weird as ever

Video: Unique and wacky decor at newly opened Tower District bar

Co-owner Craig Johnson talks about the unique and wacky decor at the newly opened bar, Goldstein's Mortuary & Delicatessen, in the Tower District in Fresno. Video by SILVIA FLORES sflores@fresnobee.com
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Co-owner Craig Johnson talks about the unique and wacky decor at the newly opened bar, Goldstein's Mortuary & Delicatessen, in the Tower District in Fresno. Video by SILVIA FLORES sflores@fresnobee.com

Goldstein's Mortuary & Delicatessen opened in 2015 as Fresno's strangest craft beer bar.

So the fact it's hosting a circus themed party for its three-year anniversary is on brand.

The place has a slight side-show vibe. Minus the name, which pulls from George Orwell's book "1984," the place is full of oddities — from the steam-punk inspired piping that runs the taps behind the bar to the 16-foot boat just inside the front door. There's a giant octopus with a woman’s face painted along one wall and a metal dragon head built to the ductwork along the ceiling.

For a long time, there was a jar of embalming fluid behind the bar. It had a face inside it and served as tap for the bar's signature brew.

For the party Saturday, there will be fire breathers and sword swallowers on the back patio and aerial dancing above the bar (seriously). There will be tarot readings and live music from Gypsy Vision, Before Perils and Cloudship along with new swag (shirts, glassware and the like). For the beer geeks, the bar did a collaboration with Full Circle Brewing Company that will be available on tap and in cans.

It's a milkshake IPA called the Dirty Bee.

Those who haven't been into Goldstein's before (there are surely a few who fall into that category) might want to take this opportunity, says Craig Johnson, who owns the bar and was responsible for its decor.

"This will be one of those times to remember," he says.

When Goldstein's opened, Johnson sort of thought the bar would be populated mostly by his friends. And he was cool with that. Then one night as he looked around, he realized the place had taken on a life of its own.

"I didn't know anyone," he says.

Depending on when you show up now, the place might be shoulder-to-shoulder packed with hip 20-somethings kickin' back to a surf rock or rockabilly band. During quieter moments, the bar plays host to Tower District regulars and craft beer connoisseurs taking advantage of the bar's massive and ever-changing taps.

"I can't put a finger on the demographics," Johnson says.

There have been some changes over the years. The music has gotten louder, for one. In the beginning, Goldstein's hosted mostly acoustic bands. Johnson never thought they'd have a DJ, or do an '80s night, but both have happened and were well-received.

"It's a fine balance," Johnson says.

"You want to make money and still stay true to the vision."

Joshua Tehee: 559-441-6479, @joshuatehee

Goldstein's third anniversary party

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