Are you a beer enthusiast but are unclear about how to find cool places to go and enjoy a nice, cold craft beer? All you have to do is slowly creep up behind a hipster who already has his ear to the ground trying to locate craft beer, wait and follow him.
Label hipsters however you choose, but get one thing clear, they know more about beer than you ever will.
There are some great hipster dives around town and even some less hipstery ones. They all have their positives and negatives, but hopefully they have a great craft beer selection. It’s always a good idea to branch out and try new places, otherwise you’ll be stuck with the same old thing night after night.
In recent years, Red Wave Inn has thankfully jumped on the craft-beer bandwagon. Old people rant: back in my day, when you went to Red Wave, you got to choose from Coors and Dos Equis. Now they have a bunch of good beers on tap. While the beer selection is really good for a college bar, it also plays host to college kids being college kids. If you’re an old man, like me, you might not enjoy the atmosphere.
The new kid on the block is Guri’s Grubhouse and Taps. It has the most diverse beer options within walking distance from Fresno State, but it’s also quite pricey. The decor is very upper class. It’s an easy trip across the street, and the food is great (but also pricey).
To get to some other, more-chill establishments, you’ll need a car or bus. You’ll need to get yourself to the hipster part of town.
Once you arrive in the beautiful Tower District, there are some good options to choose from. If you’re like me, the first and best option is Spokeasy. On Wishon, north of the Tower strip, Spokeasy is a bicycle-themed bar. When you’re driving up Wishon, if you blink you might miss it.
Spokeasy is your typical hole-in-the-wall bar with a hipster vibe. The atmosphere is very relaxed, and two out of the three bartenders are also the owners. The beer selection rotates daily, or hourly, depending on how busy it is. As each keg empties, the owners put something completely different in its place.
The decor consists of bicycles on the walls and arcade games in the back. While some games are free, you can get a bunch of quarters from the laundromat next door, and have your friends over to have beers and a skee ball tournament.
The people are friendly and will compliment you on your Power Rangers T-shirt. You can go few places in town where your conversations about Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica or The Simpsons (seasons 1-9) will cause a complete stranger to approach you and your friends and happily join in the conversation.
While you’re in Tower, check out Tower Sports Club. It’s the first door just north of the parking lot for Livingstone’s (yes, also on Wishon).
Tower Sports is far from your traditional sports bar. A lot of the furniture looks like it came out of a 1920’s period piece. The beer selection is pretty good, but this bar also serves hard alcohol. Also, the atmosphere improves when it has someone on the piano. The pianist plays an eclectic mix of popular music as well as movie and television themes like “Lord of the Rings” for instance.
There is more than one type of crowd that goes to Tower Sports so the patrons are diverse. The only downside is that sometimes the lighting is bad. But hey, a lot of bars and clubs are like that.
Another good place in town is a little farther south. Peeve’s Public House and Local Market isn’t a dive bar, but it does fit the hipster motif. It’s also a bicycle-themed bar with foot pedals on the bar stools. Peeve’s, which gets its name from the owner’s dog (who you might see scampering about from time to time), has a small stage where bands perform right inside the bar.
The beer selection rivals that of Spokeasy, but Peeve’s also boasts some amazing food. Whether you’re there for breakfast, dinner, beer or coffee, this bar has a very comfortable, homey feeling.
The one downside to Peeve’s is that it’s on the Fulton Mall. Fresno’s sole pedestrian mall isn’t in the greatest of shape. However, no matter what opinion you hold about paving down the mall’s walkways to build an actual street for cars, you may debate the issue with Peeve’s owner, Craig Scharton. Scharton worked on Downtown Revitalization for Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin.
If you “don’t like hipsters,” you need to relax a bit. Because if you “don’t like” a group of people, you have your own issues to work out.
Spokeasy and Peeve’s aren’t like Grubhouse or Redwave, Yard House or The Elbow Room, but you’ll find nice people and great beer for less money.