Moving to the Central Valley...How's the Scene?

Discussion in 'Pacific' started by akgroom, Jan 23, 2013.

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  1. akgroom

    akgroom Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2010 Georgia

    Hey everyone, not a frequent BA poster, but I am moving to the central valley (Modesto area, to be specific) mid-February for a new job and I was wondering about the beer scene. I have already heard a lot about Dust Bowl Brewing, where I will be headed as soon as I get there, but I wanted to get a feel for availability of things and if there are meetups or anything in the area.

    I am coming from Atlanta, GA...a long way for me!

  2. danscott

    danscott Aspirant (238) Jul 15, 2006 California

    Thank you for not starting your post with "Where do I get some Piny?"

    Hell yes, Dust Bowl in your backyard is a great thing, both for beer and for the people you will meet.

    St Stan's is an old school brewery that has gone through several ups and downs, but is making a stronger effort. They are adding taps at their home base Hero's. BevMo has a huge selection of beers you don't get in Atlanta, so that will certainly keep you busy and happy. There are also a few independent bottle shops around town, you'll find them. They have common selections, not much more.

    There are certainly a few spots and some beer lovers in the area, but your best bet for the moment is to make trips to the Bay Area (specifically SF and Oakland) or to Sacramento if you have a hankering for world class selections on draught. You probably will not have time for SF Beer Week with the timing of the move, but (cough cough, shameless but helpful plug) Sacramento Beer Week is Feb22-Mar3. I highly recommend coming up for the Capital Beerfest, as there will be at least 85 breweries (mostly NorCal), so it is a great way to be overwhelmed by the bounty we have here.

    The good news is that craft beer is booming here in CA, and cities with the size/demographics of Modesto will likely see some growth.

    Do not drink wine made in Modesto. Eat at Gervasoni's and frequent farmer's markets. Find an old school Italian joint (there are several). Take road trips east into the historic Gold Country and to the Sierra Nevada Mountains. San Jose sucks (I don't mean beer, I mean in general).

    Welcome to CA when you get here!
  3. akgroom

    akgroom Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2010 Georgia

    This is all great stuff, thank you! While I'm definitely excited to finally get some Pliny, I know that I'm a short drive away from their entire selection at the brewery itself, so I figured that's when I'd get some.

    I've already got BevMo trips on the agenda for my first week when I get there. They seem a lot like Total Wine here in Atlanta, which is great for selection, but widely-known to have the good the good stuff goes FAST. Also, when I flew out for my interview, I tried a couple of St. Stan's brews during dinner. Their 2007 Barleywine was great!

    Having been to Modesto a couple of times now between the interview and home hunting, I noticed that Sacramento is the affiliate city for all of the TV, radio and other broadcast stuff, so I wanted to get to know Sacramento well...sounds like the Beer Week may be the perfect opportunity for that!
  4. badb_rad

    badb_rad Aspirant (212) Dec 23, 2012 California
    Beer Trader

    The BevMo in Modesto is small. Nothing like Total Wine when it comes to selection. There are BevMos in Turlock, Stockton & Tracy also. I havent been to the Turlock or Stockton stores, but the Tracy store is much bigger, somewhat on par with Total Wine. Closest Total Wine stores will be in the Sacramento area.
    akgroom likes this.
  5. azureoval

    azureoval Aspirant (284) Jan 25, 2010 California

    Sacramento, Stockton and Modesto is all the same market as far as Media is concerned.
    Bevmo is usually priced slightly higher and has slightly less selection than TW but seems to get limited releases sooner than TW. At least around here.
    There is two Total Wines in the Sac area along with Bevmo's and places like Final Gravity and Davis Beer Shoppe that you should check out while here.
    Welcome to the Central Valley.
    akgroom likes this.
  6. MLucky

    MLucky Aspirant (286) Jul 31, 2010 California

    True that. But what somebody from outside the area might not realize is... they're actually kind of far apart. I think it's about 80 miles from Modesto to Sac, probably took me an hour and a half the last time I drove it. And ti can take a lot longer, given the traffic on 99. It might be a shorter route to a better selection to go to Livermore and Walnut Creek, if you're coming from Modesto. The East Bay isn't all that much farther, and there you'd get Beer Revolution, Ledger's Liquor, etc.

    But yeah, the Sac "scene" is growing by leaps and bounds. Seems like there's a new brewery or craft-focused beer bar opening up every other week these days, and some of them are great. (Some... not so much.) I don't get down to Modesto much, but I imagine it's probably booming, too.
    akgroom likes this.
  7. azureoval

    azureoval Aspirant (284) Jan 25, 2010 California

    Yeah you are right . I was just talking about if he visits Sac for Beer Week what his options were. The Bay could be a better a option for regular visits.
    akgroom likes this.
  8. Johnnyramirez

    Johnnyramirez Initiate (0) Nov 17, 2012 California

    I personally hate the Tracy BevMo. Old IPA's on the shelf are the norm. If you drive to Tracy just go to Pete's Liquor to get fresh IPA's or make the extra 20 minute drive to Livermore BevMo and Perry's Liquor. All that said, if OP is coming from Atlanta I'm sure BevMo will keep things interesting for a while. Plus Dust Bowl is right in his backyard.
    akgroom likes this.
  9. No1Smitty

    No1Smitty Initiate (0) Nov 7, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    A lot of great advice. I myself live in Modesto. The Bevmo here will keep you busy for awhile. As Johnny mentioned the Limited release stuff can be found at Pete's in Tracy and Perry's in Livermore. I have found the Turlock Bevmo to have a better selection than Modesto. So when visiting Dustbowl stop by there on the way home.

    It would be nice to have some bottle sharing parties in the area. Maybe we could get one of those going soon ?
    akgroom and badb_rad like this.
  10. akgroom

    akgroom Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2010 Georgia

    I'm sure BevMo will keep me busy for at least the first month or so. Thanks for the heads-up about the Tracy BevMo, I'll be sure to pay close attention to bottle dates when possible.
  11. akgroom

    akgroom Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2010 Georgia

    This would be awesome, considering I'm new to the area as well. Maybe we could set something up at Dust Bowl even.
  12. matedog

    matedog Initiate (58) Jan 25, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    Don't forget the Davis Beer Shoppe. But again, that's not so close to Modesto.
  13. Johnnyramirez

    Johnnyramirez Initiate (0) Nov 17, 2012 California

    A bottle share would be awesome. I know there's some bottles I've been sitting on that I want to share
  14. hophead247

    hophead247 Disciple (370) Jan 27, 2008 California
    Beer Trader

    TONS of taco trucks.
  15. badb_rad

    badb_rad Aspirant (212) Dec 23, 2012 California
    Beer Trader

    I'll come down out of the foothills for a bottle share for sure.
  16. Arbitrator

    Arbitrator Initiate (0) Nov 26, 2008 California

    My sincere condolences.

    Dust Bowl isn't bad. Check out The Rapist, their Triple IPA. It's pretty interesting.
    jtmartino, danscott, akgroom and 2 others like this.
  17. Johnnyramirez

    Johnnyramirez Initiate (0) Nov 17, 2012 California

    Lmaooooooo. I see what you did there
  18. westcoastbeerlvr

    westcoastbeerlvr Poo-Bah (1,788) Oct 19, 2010 California

    It's funny because knowing you, at first I thought you were talking about City Beer Store.

    And then I thought you said The Trappist.
    This one took me a while.
  19. akgroom

    akgroom Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2010 Georgia

    Okay guys, I've been here a month and you weren't's like a wasteland. Sure, there are a decent amount of things I haven't tried that are available (Bear Republic, Ballast Point, Speakeasy, etc.) but the Central Valley is a freakin' desert. Most of the stuff I find is old and any of the good stuff is "supposed to come in" and never does. At BevMo, I had multiple associates just look at me and say "Welcome to the valley! It has the worst beer distribution of the entire state." I never realized how spoiled I was living across the street from a Total Wine back in GA.

    So, enough bitching. How do we change this? I can't tell if there are old beers on shelves because there's no demand or because there's no distro. Is there someone we can reach out to to show demand? Who are the big distributors in the area? I mean, there's got to be something! Sure, I can drive *only* 1.5-2 hours to get a massive selection, but this is CA. We shouldn't be having this much trouble getting good beer when we live so damn close to it. Any ideas?
  20. badb_rad

    badb_rad Aspirant (212) Dec 23, 2012 California
    Beer Trader

    Number 1 problem I think is the demographics.. Not a lot of craft brew fans.. Delta Sierra & Cencal distro to the needs of the many & that's BMC products.
  21. akgroom

    akgroom Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2010 Georgia

    It just feels so strange considering we have things like Dust Bowl (which seems to be going well) and bars beginning to pop up that are looking to have more craft selection (Camp 4 and 10 East). Maybe I'm just being overly optimistic about that stuff. Maybe we've just accepted that we have to drive elsewhere, thus hiding what little demand we have in the numbers of stores outside of our area.
  22. No1Smitty

    No1Smitty Initiate (0) Nov 7, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    This is what we have to put up with unfortunately. If you want a decent tap selection "in" Modesto, there is P.Wexford's, appetiez restaurant, and the soon to be opening Rivets. The closest store that isn't run of the mill is Pete's in Tracy. And Perry's in Livermore.
  23. Johnnyramirez

    Johnnyramirez Initiate (0) Nov 17, 2012 California

    At BevMo if you know the beer guy you can probably have them order fresh stuff, ditto for good liquor stores. I helped Pete's choose some of the Lost Abbey and Clown Shoes stuff they're getting. But the valley does suck ass. If you ever need muling, I'm close to Livermore so I can hook you up. Make the drive shorter.

    And can we plan a valley bottleshare?
    akgroom and badb_rad like this.
  24. jtmartino

    jtmartino Initiate (0) Dec 11, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    Compared to the central valley?



    Or you could move. Livermore is an option - I know a guy who works at Gallo and makes the commute daily. This is one conversation where the statement "you should move to Tracy" would be acceptable.
  25. MastaShonuf

    MastaShonuf Devotee (493) Jan 21, 2013 California
    Beer Trader

    Welcome again to California. Commuting into Modesto is always a better idea if you are looking to geographically put yourself in a more desirable beer local. You are really within a hour of a lot of places. Just get there early and chill the rest of the day. Better yet. Motel 6 it.

    If you have good self control, drive out to Russian River and buy mass amounts of beer on the way back. You hit so many places that you could hibernate at home the next month.
    SierraJosh and akgroom like this.
  26. akgroom

    akgroom Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2010 Georgia

    Any info on Rivets? I've seen a lot of stuff about it, but nothing about actual food or tap list.
  27. No1Smitty

    No1Smitty Initiate (0) Nov 7, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    It is another Restaurant from the owners of P.Wexfords. It is supposed to have 20 plus tap handles. It is also two blocks from my house ! :grinning:
  28. brenty0man

    brenty0man Initiate (0) Apr 5, 2013 Pennsylvania

    You are close to fresno, where we have a brewery: Tioga Sequoia. and a decent bottle shop in the south fresno area. Also, Firestone is pretty close...
  29. danscott

    danscott Aspirant (238) Jul 15, 2006 California

    Oh, no no. I meant this in the context of people recommending he go hang out in San Jose when practically any other spot in the Bay Area is far more desirable.
  30. KiMiRaiK

    KiMiRaiK Initiate (0) Dec 24, 2012 Washington

    A wasteland indeed. I'm sorry to hear you've had the misfortune of having to move to the central valley. Distro is horrific and it most likely wont be getting any better any time soon. All the advice given above is your best beat. 1.5-2 north and west you will find an awesome selection, Livermore and Tracy are closer and they too have a great selection.

    Modesto & Turlock Bevmos are your go to spots locally. Liquor King in Ceres is a pretty good spot as well and the owner seems to really care about getting good brew. When I lived there i would bounce between these three places as there were slight variances in their selection and you would be able to find a beer at one place, that the other two didn't carry. Hope this helps.
  31. KiMiRaiK

    KiMiRaiK Initiate (0) Dec 24, 2012 Washington

    He is no where near Fresno and Firestone is like 4-5 hrs away...
    akgroom likes this.
  32. Johnnyramirez

    Johnnyramirez Initiate (0) Nov 17, 2012 California

    Tracy isn't great by any means, but it's better than anywhere else in the valley. Livermore is awesome though. Worth the extra 15-20 minute ride
  33. KiMiRaiK

    KiMiRaiK Initiate (0) Dec 24, 2012 Washington

    When you live in Modesto, even the Tracy Bevmo is awesome. I haven't been to Pete's but I've heard good things.
  34. Johnnyramirez

    Johnnyramirez Initiate (0) Nov 17, 2012 California

    Pete's is cool. My go to spot here in town. Usually make weekly trips to Livermore though. And I can't imagine the BevMo in Modesto if the Tracy one is an upgrade.
  35. CenCalMario

    CenCalMario Initiate (132) Jan 12, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    There's The Abbey in Stockton too.
    danscott likes this.
  36. smitty5245

    smitty5245 Initiate (0) Mar 8, 2011 California

    Lots of talk about a bottle share in the valley... Just moved to Tracy from Sacramento to discover this beer wasteland called the Central Valley. Lets get this organized?
    DovaliHops likes this.
  37. Johnnyramirez

    Johnnyramirez Initiate (0) Nov 17, 2012 California

    I'm in Tracy. Looks like the rest of the Central Valley BA's are around Modesto. But we're hoping to organize something. I invited you to our BM convo.
  38. Devi0us

    Devi0us Initiate (0) May 3, 2011 California

    Yeah but most of the time its garbage on tap...However, there is another brewpub slated to open up this summer in Lodi called Porter's...supposedly its going to have 30 taps ALL Craft heard it here first...
  39. akgroom

    akgroom Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2010 Georgia

    Also just noticed this come across on Facebook today:

    It's the first annual Central Valley Brewfest. Clearly being spearheaded by the fake craft brew bunch as it has a ton of macros and a couple of actual craft brews, but it's a start. Maybe if we show up, it will show a interest and at least send a message to other craft breweries? Just a thought.
  40. Johnnyramirez

    Johnnyramirez Initiate (0) Nov 17, 2012 California

    I saw this and saw that Batch 19, AB, Blue Moon, Leinenkugel and Hornsby were all there. But I'd probably be down to go just to drink Dust Bowl and Alaskan.
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