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E-Malt.com News article: USA, CA: Mare Island Brewing Co. opening soon in Vallejo
Brewery news

"Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!"

Admiral David Farragut's famous phrase is the motto of the Mare Island Brewing Co., which is opening soon in the Vallejo Ferry Building, co-owner Ryan Gibbons said this week.

Farragut was the U.S. Navy's first admiral and the man charged in 1854 with creating the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, for which the new brewing company is named.

"For us it means there is no obstacle we can't overcome, and damn (some) people's (negative) reaction to Vallejo, and full speed ahead," Gibbons was quoted as saying by Times Herald on July 30.

Gibbons and business partner Kent Fortner are holding a series of "soft openings" as practice runs, to work out the kinks in advance of a grand opening, the two Mare Island residents said.

All the required permits are now in hand, and it's only a matter of putting everything together just so, Gibbons said. The timing of the soft openings is secret, but the men said they plan to open for good by early September.

Meanwhile, details like finding and installing historical Mare Island-related photos and other memorabilia, honing the food menu and nailing down just the right suppliers are being worked out, Gibbons said. For instance, the tap room's wood paneling came directly from a demolished Mare Island building, with the building number sign included. The bar along the water-facing picture windows is also made of wood salvaged from the shipyard, as are the tables.

An unobstructed view of the strait and Mare Island can be had from the tap room's wall of picture windows, from the bar table outside and from the Ferry Building's Observation Deck, which will eventually be available for use, Gibbons said.

The deck, access to which is either by a winding staircase or by elevator, has mostly been off limits through the years because no way had been found to keep the number of people up there at or below the maximum 49, Gibbons said. That access will be controlled by tap room employees, so the city approved its use, he said. The area's walls will be a gallery of local artists' work, he said.

Gibbons, a wine maker turned brewer originally from Maryland, is a self-proclaimed history buff, and all the beers he's crafted for use at the tap room have historical Mare Island names, like the Saginaw Golden Ale, the Coal Shed Stout, the Farragut Farmhouse Ale and the Hydraulic Sandwich, Navy slang for having beer for lunch, all of which are already on tap.

For the seven years he was a wine maker, Gibbons traveled the world, learning from master brewers in Australia, New Zealand, Bulgaria, France, and, naturally, Napa, where he moved when he figured out "what I wanted to be when I grew up," he said.

While working as a waiter during the recession, Gibbons said he arranged a job for himself as a brewer in Petaluma, and found his calling, as well as his business partner.

"That's when I met Kent, who had this idea, and it went from there," he said.

Mare Island Brewing Co. beers are already gaining popularity at the Vallejo Farmers Market, and some local restaurants where it's on tap, Gibbons said.

Gibbons and Fortner said that as opposed to a snooty wine-making area, Vallejo is more of a working class craft beer-making town, and they hope to be the first but not the last such endeavor here.

"We don't want to be the only game in town," Gibbons said. "We want to be a place where Vallejoans are proud to call their own. We want to be here for 50 years and we're looking forward to being part of the change for the better in Vallejo."

01 August, 2014

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