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Vallejo TGIF: Mare Island Brewing Company celebrates our shipbuilding legacy

Mare Island Brewing's principals, Ryan and Kent, are committed to bringing new energy (and great ale) to Vallejo's waterfront.
Mare Island Brewing's principals, Ryan and Kent, are committed to bringing new energy (and great ale) to Vallejo's waterfront.
Patricia Kutza

Welcome to the latest edition of our series, Vallejo TGIF.

Friday signals the end of the work week for many Vallejoans. But for Ryan Gibbons and Kent Fortner, lining up all the project tasks that will eventually materialize as a taproom and nano-brewery located at Vallejo's Ferry Terminal Building, every day represents a day closer to fulfilling their dream - to establish Mare Island Brewing Company as not only the 'go-to' place on Vallejo's waterfront to enjoy their signature ales. But also to revive the sense of pride that Vallejoans felt when their city was a company town dominated by the bustling Mare Island shipbuilding industry.

That's the takeaway we left with after a recent visit with Gibbons and Fortner. Sitting in the shell of what will soon become a sunlit space for beer and bangers, these two winemakers that have transitioned to beer makers shared what it's like to bring all of the piece-parts of their vision to one geographic location: Due to a myriad number of challenges their Coal Shed brewing operations has the longest timeline. So until the brewery is fully established on Mare Island, Gibbons and Fortner will be making their signature ales at an existing brewery in the Wine Country. They hope to welcome folks to their taproom as early as April with limited production happening on site.

It would be difficult to recall another event in Vallejo's last decade that arrives with such high expectations. And these two brew masters are fully aware of this fact. As we stood on the 'birds nest' atop the Ferry Building (that Mare Island Brewing, in another 'first' for the city, will use as an outdoor extension of their taproom), Gibbons pointed to the Coal Shed location across the Mare Island Strait. And Fortner motioned to the open space near the Terminal which is the site of so many of Vallejo festivals. Both places have huge potential to extend their brand as folks also visit the brewery and become acquainted with their ale at these nearby festivals.

By the time the taproom opens, there will be quite a few beer lovers who have already tasted their ales. Such places like the Mare Island Golf Club, Vallejo Yacht Club and the Elks Club are already serving their beer. And the names of their ales stir the memories of residents who once worked in the Shipyards: Saginaw Golden Ale (the US Saginaw was the first keel laid on Mare Island (1857)), Coal Shed Stout - recalls the location where the coal that powered the early Navy steam ships and Farragut Farmhouse Saison, offers a respectful nod to the exploits of Admiral Farragut. In Fall 2014, Fortner and Gibbons plan to introduce 'Dangles and Angles', just in time for a gathering of submarine veterans and enthusiasts at Mare island.

To keep on-board with their latest developments, you will want to visit their website and sign up for their free newsletter. Before you leave this page, check out our slide show We've loaded it with a few more facts about this coming destination.

Mare Island Brewing Co. Tap and Tasting Room / Vallejo Ferry Building - Waterfront Rotunda

289 Mare Island Way, Vallejo, CA 94590

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