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Kent Fortner (left) and Ryan Gibbons of Mare Island Brewing Co. with an old anchor recovered from the Napa River. (Archive photo by Brendan Riley)

After a decade of brewing, Mare Island Brewing co-founders Kent Fortner and Ryan Gibbons say Vallejo is far from full capacity.

The duo will celebrate their tenth anniversary later this summer with an anniversary party and the premiere of a podcast.

The anniversary party will take place on August 3rd from 3-7 p.m. at the Coal Shed Brewery. In addition, Mare Island Brewing Co. is launching a limited podcast series called “From Battleships to Beer: 10 Years of Mare Island Brewing Co.”

“It’s the classic doppelgänger of memory,” Fortner said. “On one hand, I just can’t believe it’s been 10 years already. I still remember Ryan unlocking the doors to the Ferry Taproom and us being mobbed by eager local customers, and also finding coal on the floor of the coal shed when we tore it out during construction.

“But when I look at the photos of the young men who opened this, I think, ‘Wow, where did those guys go?’ And surviving Covid as a company has been the longest years of our lives,” Fortner continued. “And I think it will always feel that way. I guess you could sum it up by saying that while we realize we’ve come this far, at the core we’re still the same spirit that started this 10 years ago.”

Gibbons agreed.

“It definitely feels like both (10 years and just yesterday) in a weird way,” Gibbons said. “So much has changed since we opened and so many customers, employees, events, even Covid, have come through that I absolutely feel the 10 years. But it also still feels like it was just yesterday when Kent and I were dreaming up ideas of what Mare Island Brewing Co. should be from a brand perspective and as a business in our community. The gray hairs in my beard also help me feel the whole 10 years again.”

Mare Island Brewing Co. employs 80 people at its three locations. (Photo courtesy)
Mare Island Brewing Co. employs 80 people at its three locations. (Photo courtesy)

Gibbons and Fortner are excited to share some behind-the-scenes moments that have shaped the brewery in the new podcast, which will debut on The Brewing Network on July 23.

“We’re in the middle of creating a super fun podcast, 10 episodes with Justin Crossley from the Brewer’s Network, chronicling the first 10 years, which was a great opportunity to look back at everything we’ve done,” Fortner said. “But the last episode, which we’ve planned for the next 10 years and more, has been thought-provoking. We’ve taken some serious steps this year to up our sustainability game, with an eye toward the future and responsibility for it. We hope that Vallejo as a whole, and Mare Island in particular, will start to see some of that potential we all feel for our hometown. Our current mindset is to continue to focus on local and spread it around the Bay Area, spreading not only the gospel of our beer, but also the incredible story of Mare Island.”

Gibbons said he believes Mare Island Brewing Co. has grown a lot in 10 years.

“I think we’ve grown the most in our relationship with the community,” Gibbons said. “When we first started, a lot of locals were wondering, ‘Who the heck are these two guys who didn’t grow up in Vallejo?’ and ‘Why are they telling our story?’ So we had a lot to prove to the community by showing them that we would tell the incredible story of Mare Island with the respect and dignity it deserves, and brew some damn good beer while doing it. Seeing how busy we are at all three locations in our community and feeling the love from the locals showed me we were on the right path.”

The anniversary party will feature live music from Collectivity, a special 10-year anniversary beer and a number of local food trucks including Hero’s Gyros, Bossalini Soul Q Bistro and shaved ice. The event is designed to be fun for all ages, with a tie-dye station, kids’ activities like face painting and games like water balloon launch, giant beer pong and cornhole. Tickets are $10, and children under 13 are free.