Food lovers and beer connoisseurs will find a little piece of heaven as Old Town Clovis kicks off with its first Craft Beer Crawl from 2 to 5 p.m., Sunday, April 19, along with the Black Pot Cook-off. Twenty breweries from across California will offer tastings of their brews at Old Town businesses and restaurants — no beer on streets or sidewalks.
“Clovis is centrally located to the many microbreweries in California, so we hope to hold this event once or twice a year to introduce people in the Valley to the craft beer phenomenon,” said Carol Lester, executive director of Business Organization of Old Town.
South Gate Brewing Company of Oakhurst is one of the breweries participating in the event.
“We’re super excited about being there, because we have a lot of Clovis clientele that make it up the hill to see us,” said South Gate owner Casey Hawkins. “We thought this time we’d make it down the hill to pour some beer for them. We really appreciate all the people from Clovis that come up here and wouldn’t miss a Clovis event for the world.”
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South Gate’s brewmaster Rick Boucke is brewing up Sawtooth IPA — which can also be found at Westwood’s BBQ & Spice Co. in Fresno — and Honey Badger Wheat to sample at the event. Hawkins said the Honey Badger is a “really refreshing summer beer.”
Some of the other participating breweries include: Ballast Point from San Diego, Kaweah, Lagunitas, Brewbakers, Sierra Nevada, Tioga-Sequoia, Three Monkeys, W (559) Brewing, House of Pendragon, Riley’s, Sequoia Brewing, and Barrel House.
Ronnie and Kayla Silva of Illuminate Hair Studio & Spa will be hosting one of the breweries at the studio off Woodworth Avenue.
“It’s really good exposure for Old Town,” said Ronnie, who sits on B.O.O.T.’s board. “Craft beer is trending right now, and I’m excited to see the people it’s going to bring. It’s going to be a blending of the next generation with the older generation. It’s going to be an interesting, fun event.”
Frost Oak Creek Creations is one of the Old Town businesses hosting a brewery. Tom Frost, co-owner of the store with wife Betty, was on the Craft Beer Crawl planning committee. He said combining the beer crawl and the black pot cook-off — which was suspended for a year but had previously been held for two years — seems to be a winning combination.
“It’s taken on a new life of it’s own,” he said.
Frost said the event will be great for Old Town businesses.
“It exposes the stores to potential new customers who can see what’s unique about Old Town,” Frost said. “In Old Town, I think we forget how unique it really is here. You can come down here and visit a number of businesses and restaurants that are locally owned and have unique items you won’t have anywhere else in the city.”
Black Pot Cook-Off
The Black Pot Cook-off will be held from noon to 5 p.m. on the streets of Old Town and nine teams will be competing against each other as they create four-course meals in cast-iron pots while cooking over coals. The event will be judged by chefs and professors from the Institute of Technology, and winners will be awarded plaques at the end of the day.
Father-and-son duo Larry and Ben Holley are participating in their second black pot cook-off this year. The first year they competed their menu included gumbo, dirty rice, jalapeno cheese cornbread and pecan bread pudding with whiskey sauce. This year’s menu is still in the works.
“The real easy stuff is the soups and the stews, no way you can go wrong there, but it gets trickier with roasts, pies and cakes,” Larry Holley said. “There are certain times you have to turn things in (during the event) and that’s tricky. Most of us guys like outdoor grilling, but this is just a little bit more challenging.”
Black pot cooking dates back to the 49ers from the California Gold Rush era. The 49ers brought them over the United States in covered wagons and were a prized possession for cooking.
“There’s a lot of history to it, and that makes it fun,” he said.
Holley became interested in black pot cooking after a friend of his took a class in it, and now he has been black pot cooking for about 12 years.
“I started dabbling in it, then got my son involved and that made it a lot of fun,” Holley said. “We’ll have family dinners, and he’ll cook something and I’ll cook something. Then we got more friends that like to do it. We’ve got a good group of guys that get together to have a little friendly competition, and we’re always striving to come up with something unique and different.”
Holley said you can taste the difference between normal cooking and black pot cooking.
“You can take the toughest piece of meat and cook it low and slow — the motto behind dutch oven cooking — and make something really special with something that’s inexpensive and not a real good cut of meat.”
Other event activities
Coinciding with the craft beer crawl is the home brew contest, which will be judged prior to the event. The winner will be announced during Sunday’s festivities.
“Our Home Brew Contest proves that creating new and interesting beers is a hobby in which many local folks participate,” Lester said. “Over 50 people are participating in our first Home Brew Contest. Judges from the San Joaquin Wort Hogs, certified judges, will be tasting over 100 beers.”
There will also be live music from Grassfire and the Country Outlaws and food trucks including Mattie’s Wood-Fired Pizza, Dusty Buns, Benaddiction and Sno-Café.
The Central Valley Beard & Mustache Club will also be showcasing their beards and mustaches and looking for fellows who deserve some recognition for their facial hair.
There will also be period artisans demonstrating skills from the early 1900s.
Ticket holders will receive a commemorative glass provided by event sponsor Dreamscape Pools Inc. and a wrist band and map indicating each merchant and brewery location.
Tickets cost $45 at the event.
Details: (559) 298-5774 or www.oldtownclovis.org.