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Downtown Fresno Ale Trail:

Tioga-Sequoia Leading the Charge

A major driving force in the Downtown Fresno revitalization movement is the buzz over the Downtown Ale Trail. It’s now grown to 5 different locations, including HoP/PK, Full Circle Brewing Co, Zach’s Brewing Company and 411 Broadway Ale & Spirits. The Ale Trail was created as a way to establish this area as a destination for fans of craft beer and offer them easy access to all locations that serve them. Each offer different experiences for the after-hours crowd, but day in and day out, the newly-opened Fulton Street leads thousands of people to Tioga-Sequoia’s Beer garden, whether they like beer or not.

 “It started with being very open to incorporating more to our brewery beyond a tap room.  We knew we had to be open to new things, especially things on the creative side that could draw people other than just beer.”- Mike Cruz | President of Tioga-Seuoia

Facebook photo by: Jeanette Hinojosa

Luckily for the brewery, each brew they craft keeps their longtime customers coming back for more.

According to Tioga-Sequoia President Mike Cruz, the transformation of their warehouse downtown into a Beer Garden four years ago wasn’t really part of their original plans. But after feeling the energy after experimenting with an ‘open brewhouse’ they knew it had to stay.  “It started with being very open to incorporating more to our brewery beyond a tap room.  We knew we had to be open to new things, especially things on the creative side that could draw people other than just beer.”

Within its first year, Tioga-Sequoia hosted the first FresYes Fest: a free event open to guests of all ages.  Through a partnership with local events creator, Mike Oz, this event celebrated the best beer, food, music and other vendors in the Valley.  In its fourth year, they welcomed double the number of visitors; 12,000 people filled the streets surrounding the brewery.  The festival has grown so much, they shut down more streets nearby to make room for those guests. “It’s great this has grown into a flagship event for Downtown Fresno – the type of event that people can look forward to every year and truly bring the community together,” says Oz.  “The goal is always to get new people Downtown and this is the type of event that can expose people to what can be.”

Facebook: Mike Osegueda

This is just one of the successful collaborations Tioga-Sequoia has committed to with local creatives, which brings fresh faces to their space. Some of their other regular (and popular!) events include Art Hop, ‘Tacos, Brews and Jams,’ and ‘Yoga and Beer,’ organized by I Believe in Downtown Yoga. According to Cruz, being open to partnerships like these is something they are passionate about because they want to be involved in the things their customers love.  “All of these events are community-driven and give our customers something fun to do.  Everyone has the things they love to do.  We want to be involved on all those levels.”

As the Downtown scene grows, so will Tioga-Sequoia’s presence. The Fresno Soccer Club’s season is off to an exciting start, and Tioga-Sequoia is showing support for Los Zorros, serving as the official pre-game destination of the FC Foxes, even creating the Zorro Especial just for their fans.  The same goes for baseball season and the breweries’ support for the Grizzlies.  Tioga-Sequoia is already a favorite among local baseball fans, having hosted numerous pre (and post!) parties in seasons past.

Soon enough, visitors will have more amenities to enjoy.  Crews have just completed the expansion of another tasting area, which includes more restrooms.  In the next year, they have plans to develop the patio area to include more shade and misters, as well as other features wrapping around the whole warehouse.

Michael Cruz - President

Michael Cruz – President

For Cruz, there’s a big sense of pride as he welcomes each guest from near or far to the brewery.  “Obviously there’s a sense of pride when I talk to people who have moved away and tell them about the changes we are making back home.  It’s cool to say we are making changes so people after our generation won’t have to look to leave because they can appreciate what they have in their backyard.”

With just 3 of the Downtown breweries able to welcome visitors to their space, the excitement is building for the other 2 to open.  Owners of Zack’s Brewing Company hope to have their doors open by this summer.  They, along with 411 Broadway Ale & Spirits are still in the building and planning permitting process, but hope to have that wrapped up soon.

Facebook photo: Downtown Fresno Ale Trail

According to the Downtown Fresno Partnership, since creating the Ale Trail, there’s a new sense of energy.  “By having breweries in close proximity to each other, visitors are more likely to spend more time in the Downtown area because there are more options available,” says Jenna Chilingerian, Program Manager for the Downtown Fresno Partnership.  “Once we’re able to connect the breweries to more restaurants and entertainment venues, we expect there to be greater attendance at breweries and more foot traffic overall.”