By May 5, 2014 Read More →

BarView – Life Gave Me Lemons when I Specifically Ordered Beer


By Kate Serpa Photos by Phil Johnson

If April showers bring May flowers, then Mayflowers bring — well, probably a boatload of rats, scurvy, buckled hats, and is loosely responsible for the American Revolutionary War (even though it took place over a hundred years later, but you get what I’m saying). You can’t get too mad at 18th century Britain though, because they did standardized IPA development and elevated the drinking game, and IPAs are basically the nectar of the beer gods, in my opinion — but I’m getting off topic. It’s the May Madness. I know that’s not right, but I’m sure we can all find something to be mad about in May, too. By the way, Happy Mother’s Day! I know you avid ModestoView readers will be familiar last month’s opinion topic on ideal ‘Staycations’ — essentially a day trip that involves you making it home in time to crash in your bed in time for Game of Thrones. My answer completely missed the ‘leave Modesto’ concept of the question, and I responded “State Theatre & Minnie’s,” which, granted, is a fantastic pairing, but kind of misses the mark. I blame it on the Madness. Or the morning drinking.

Enter Phil, provider of fun ideas, knower of unknown bars, suave designated driver pilot, and taker of the fancy photos — he started talking about this amazing beer bar in Merced, and then I started thinking about how Turlock was on the way which meant a long-overdue stop at the Dust Bowl brewery — basically I buckled under delicious beer talk.

So there it is, Modesto. I cheated on you, and I cheated on you hard. Merced’s 17th Street Pubic House and Turlock’s Dust Bowl lured me in with their brews — but, of course, Minnie’s never fails to drive me back into Modesto’s arms.

17th Street public House: Operated by brothers RC and Joey Essig (also owners and operators of The Partisan venue down the street), Vanessa Hofmann, and Tim Williams (the contractor behind the wooden 741-piece bar), this dark and sumptuous bar features no domestics, no limes, and no ice — just eyes on the prize with a polished atmosphere, 15 diverse and rotating taps, a selective yet accessible wine list, and a choice craft bottle collection (with barley wines, ciders, and sour mashes to boot). Unsure of what to get? Not anymore. 17th’s staff is helpful, knowledgeable, and operates on a non-snob code of conduct. Everything I sampled (Jalapeno Sculpin & Ballast Point IPA, Duchesse de Bourgogne Sour Beer, Blackthorn Hard Cider, & the list goes on) was uncharted beer territory for me and was only selected through conversations with bartenders Jill, Matt, and RC — all founts of beer knowledge. 17th Street Public House is an ideal stop for a cold glass of beer class and solid brew talk.

How anyone manages to live in Turlock and not be at Dust Bowl 24/7 baffles me because, damn, people — garlic fries, a sampler paddle of their fresh beer, and a burger at their brewery is pretty unbeatable. Dust Bowl’s Hops of Wrath continues to be my go-to pint, and I was pleased to see 17th Street pouring it out on tap.

The last stop on any trip, staycation or not, should be Minnie’s; I was also up to my eyeballs in delicious beer at this point and was craving pot stickers and something mixed with juice (need to get that vitamin C, people). A Modesto staple, no one can beat their back patio or Diane’s Mai Tais at Minnie’s.

Beer, burgers, and booze made for a pretty ideal staycation. Happy May, Modesto. Ya’ll stay out of trouble.

17th Street Public House – 315 West Main Street, Merced, CA Dust Bowl Brewery – 200 West Main Street, Turlock, CA Minnie’s Restaurant – 107 McHenry Ave., Modesto, CA



Posted in: featured, food & drink

About the Author:

Kate Serpa does not live in Modesto, CA, nor does she attend court-reporting school. She has not played for the piano for a number of years and she is definitely not excited about helping out at the McHenry Museum. She detests drinking, bar hopping, and late night adventures, and thinks girls who dye their hair red are disgraceful. She has absolutely zero sense of humor and is boring as hell.