Mare Island Brewing Co

LIFE GOES ON (aka the beer flows...)

The nuttiness of the pandemic continues (as well as the fires, and smoke, and power outages), but in keeping with the long proud history of Mare Island Naval Shipyard’s grit and victory, we aren’t about to yield. We have much to report, as we’ve been hard at work—as always—spreading the beer gospel according to Mare Island. We have an exciting announcement about our Yardbird release, as well as news of an expansion into Benicia. So, let’s jump in.


COAL SHED: When your indoor seating is limited by the authorities, and you can’t even host people at the Coal Shed without food, what do you do? Well, you buy a food truck, expand your outdoor seating like mad, and create the “Six Foot Summer” (now extending into fall and beyond). We’re grateful to the Island developer for giving us an expanded footprint outdoors at the Coal Shed, and we’ve filled the space with 18 pandemic-spaced picnic tables amidst the Bay breezes. We took Chef David on a couple trips down to Modesto to California’s most-experienced food truck manufacturer and commissioned a sweet little rig (our “Pie Wagon”) for Chef to work his magic over at the Coal Shed. We’re confident there’s not a safer place to go enjoy a pint and bite anywhere in Vallejo (or maybe even the Bay area). And you’ll get a waterfront view to boot. The Coal Shed is open Thurs-Fri 3-8PM, and Sat-Sun 12-8PM, and we’d love to see you.

PIE WAGON: A relevant and fun history lesson. When WW2 broke out in 1941, the working ranks on Mare Island swelled almost overnight from five thousand to fifty thousand workers. One serious challenge was how to feed all those new mouths with only two cafeterias on the Island. Enter the Pie Wagons. A truck with as many as a dozen trailers pulled along behind, the Pie Wagons would load up at the cafeteria and drive from shop to shop, dropping off meals, 24 hours per day, fueling the workers who built the ships that won the war. We felt this was a worthy piece of history to commemorate with our new “Pie Wagon Food Truck” now parked at our Coal Shed Brewery. And Chef has whipped up both hand-pies and dessert pies as specials on its menu.


FERRY TAPROOM: Meanwhile, over at the Ferry Taproom, open 12-8PM daily, we’ve expanded our outdoor seating there too (thanks to some flexibility from the City) onto the promenade. Vallejo is blessed with some of the most moderate and fantastic weather in the whole country, and the waterfront view can’t be beat. We’ve also opened the “Crow’s Nest” (the observation deck) with well-spaced picnic tables, and the peace and vantage point from up there is a whole new take on the Vallejo Waterfront. Our kitchen is cranking out daily specials. And if you can’t sit, we’ve honed the online ordering system for take-out (see the prominent button on our website); you can pick up one of Chef’s specials and a growler or four-pack to enjoy at home.


A little too chilly to sit outside? The county has recently moved from “purple” to “red” on the CV19 restrictions chart, and that means we’ve been able to open up for some limited indoor seating as well. Don’t let a little cold or rain stop you from coming on down. Everything indoors is also properly spaced, and we have extensive cleaning protocols in place. It’s not the “bustling community pub” that we all know and love (and that we will return to eventually), but it is a little semblance of frivolity in the midst of all the Covid nuttiness.

In keeping with the City and County ordinances, and for the safety of customers and employees alike, we ask and require that you mask up anytime you are not sitting at your table eating and drinking. And maybe reserve a little extra patience for that staff member who is doing their best in the midst of a complicated situation.

We all hope a solution to all this (a vaccine) is around the corner. But in the meantime, we strive to be the most fun, tasty, and safest place to enjoy a pint and bite in town.


A big ol’ piece of packaging equipment may not be as thrilling to you all as it is to us, but we’re going to share about it anyway, because we’re too excited not too. We’d been eyeing this top-of-the-line canning line for a couple years now, and the pandemic gave us the opportunity (read; excuse) to finally buy it.

With restaurants hard hit, but retail (take-home) growing, we needed more flexibility in how we could can up our latest libations and get them onto store shelves and into your refrigerators. Whereas before we brought in a mobile canning line once per month and had to have all our ducks in a row on every beer for that one day, we now have the flexibility to can on-demand. It’s been liberating in terms of keeping inventory in stock, keeping beer fresh, and canning up some new flavors that previously we simply could not do.



That leads us to the upcoming release for our Yardbird Beer Club. We have said goodbye to the 22oz bottle format and have designed a sweet new Yardbird box to house four four-packs of 16oz cans, as well as three of our 500ml bottles of reserves. It’s beer heaven in a box. By popular demand, we’re resurrecting “Mud Puppy” Brown Ale for this release. We’re also introducing the new “BFH” Doppelbock Lager. Though we typically strive for balance in our beers, even we, on occasion, succumb to the allure of excess. The former shipwrights of Mare Island often cackle as they mention the “Big Freakin’ Hammer.” Literally, it was the final-resort tool for the bent panel, the stuck motor, the rusted bolt. Figuratively, it took on a whole new meaning. The blow torch instead of the lighter. The cannon instead of the gun. Destroyer dallying? —send in the battleship. Do whatever it takes, no finesse, no subtlety. Along with the classic General Order No. 99, Mud Puppy Brown Ale, and a couple other selections, we can’t wait to share BFH with you Yardbirds in this upcoming mixed-case shipment.

More details will follow to the Yardbirds via email on this, but after the wacky and wildly successful “Drive Thru Edition” Yardbird party last spring, we are crafting a “Take-Home Edition Yardbird Party” for this fall. We’ll have your order in advance, and when you pick up your Yardbird case at the Coal Shed Brewery, we’ll have a to-go dinner waiting for you (2, 4, 6 people—you can order for your whole clan). Take it home, heat it up, and we’ll also have a link to a video tasting of the beers, a Spotify playlist for you to enjoy, and we’re honing our ideas for the Yardbird game. If we can’t host you here for the Yardbird Party, we’re going to let you take it home with you.

Not a Yardbird? Become one!


As you can see above, we’ve been doing everything we can to make the best of the temporary CV19 reality. But be assured that CV19 is temporary! Though we don’t yet know exactly when we will all get through this and come out the other side, the Yardbird parties, the Saturday night music series, the brew cruises, the seafood boils, the St. Patty’s day parties, the Comedy Hops nights, the private events, the ringing of the bell at the Ferry Taproom bar to celebrate a World Series win—all that will return. Keep the faith.

We believe in the future so much that we are thrilled to announce that we’ve taken over the lease at the old First Street Café Location in Benicia. We heard they were closing their doors, and that Victorian house-turned-restaurant, built in 1890, simply had too much charm and history (it was once known as Elsie’s Bar and Brothel!) to pass up. While clean up, demo, and architectural and interior design have begun, we haven’t totally finalized our plans for the space, nor do we have a date when it will open, thus we’ll save further details for another announcement. But we’re so excited to have a taproom presence (and another outlet for Chef) in Benicia opening sometime next year.


Thank you for all your support during these nutty times; ultimately, your patronage and loyalty is what keeps the doors open, beer flowing, and our staff employed. We are also most grateful to our employees for keeping the faith (it’s not easy to craft and serve beer in a mask). We are proud to have returned to the level of employment that we had going before CV19 hit; just recently we’ve managed to bring back every position that was laid off. We like to think we’ve provided a little glimmer of normalcy and fun in the midst of our city’s, nation’s, and world’s challenges right now. Isn’t that part of what beer is all about—taking the edge off?

Damn the Torpedoes,

Kent and Ryan

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