Two winemakers toiling to handcraft beer worthy of this historic island.
Commodore David Farragut, famous for uttering, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead,” served as Mare Island Naval Shipyard’s first commander upon the base’s establishment in 1854. Over the next 150 years—including a Civil War, two World Wars, and the Cold War—Mare Island’s shops and drydocks built over 500 ships, and repaired countless more, including sailboats, steamships, destroyers … and eventually even nuclear submarines. In addition to Navy sailors, radiomen, Marines (and a hush-hush CIA presence), Mare Island once employed as many as 44,000 “Yardbirds,” the nickname given to civilian workers on the base.
Mare Island, part of the town of Vallejo, CA, is a four-mile (by one mile) peninsula jutting into the bay just 20 miles north of San Francisco. The island got its name in 1835 when a crude ferry transporting men and livestock capsized in a squall; among the livestock feared lost in the wreckage was the prized white mare of General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, the Mexican Comandante for Northern California (and namesake of the town). Several days later, General Vallejo's mare was found on the island—having swum ashore—and the name “Mare Island” was born.
Mare Island Naval Shipyard was shuttered by congress in 1996, and it and the City of Vallejo fell on hard times. But now the renaissance of this historic landmark (and the town) is well underway. Mare Island Brewing Co.—along with our fellow businesses, workshops, and artisans who now call the historic buildings of Mare Island home—take great pride in the reuse, restoration and preservation of this glorious island and its storied place in American history.