I was saddened to learn of the coming passing of an old friend. It’d been quite some time since I last saw this friend. Far too long. And the fault is all mine, though it’s not the kind of thing where any blame needs to be placed. You move away. You find that you don’t haunt the same regions any more. You find new friends.
There was no falling out. The fondness has always been there, yet is brought into sharper focus with the learning of the impending sad news. You find wish you’d visited the friend more recently. You realize you could have, as you’ve been within reasonable distance in recent years and could have made a side trip to catch up. But other things and plans were more top of mind at the moment. After all, the last time I was within shouting distance I didn’t know it was the actual last time. I’d change it if I could. If I’d known, I’d have more than happily altered plans. Stayed in the area an extra day. Gotten a hotel nearby so the reacquaintancing wouldn’t have had to be rushed, and instead allowed itself the relaxed familiarity of a long evening over good conversation, a meal, and of course, some tasty beers.
While this friend was a friend to me, I realize I was not really more than an acquaintance to them. That’s OK, as while it was nearly three decades ago that I was wanting to befriend them, they had many admirers, fans and more regular friends. I was just another. Not in a bad way. I never felt snubbed. The opposite really. Over the years, this friend began to recognize me as not simply another admirer, but as a colleague. This meant something to me, and still does. Yet, like can happen with friends, we grew apart.
Yet, I am tearing up as I write this. It surprises me a bit, as while I knew I liked and admired this friend, and that I certainly held a soft spot in my heart, I would not have expected to get emotional over the news.
I should name this friend, so that you know what this blog post is about. And though this is about the sadness of the passing of a friend, it is also about the bit of melancholy we can feel when we think about the sepia toned experiences, days, and friends of our past.
And so it is with fondness that I say my warm, heartfelt goodbye to Marin Brewing Co., which has announced that it will be closing on the 31st of January after 33 years of being in business.
I cut my craft beer teeth in the Bay Area in the early 90’s. I lived part time in San Francisco then, and I couldn’t tell you the exact first time that I visited Marin Brewing but it must have been around 1991 or 1992. (One might reasonably look it up in their Instagram feed, as such a moment would have definitely been captured, only to recall that the ‘gram wouldn’t have begun its existence for more than another couple decades.) I was absorbing all that I could about the nascent craft brewing scene. Known for winning a number of GABF medals, and having a balance for brewing traditional styles as well as a variety that were a bit more cutting edge, there was always something to reward the palate. I remember being impressed by all the framed “Thank You” letters from charitable organizations and community groups in appreciation for donated beer for fundraisers. This inspired me, and years later, we followed suit by donating to (by now) literally thousands of worthy fundraisers for licensed charities and non-profits.
So, Marin Brewing, and all the folks that have worked there and served me more times that I think you know…THANK YOU.
And this goes to all the others we’ve said goodbye to over the years. I remember when 20 Tank closed. The original Liar’s Club. More recently Falling Rock. So many others that I considered dear friends, whether they knew it or not.
The above is not an exhaustive list, as it’d be MUCH longer. What craft brewers / craft beer enclaves have you said teary goodbyes to over the years that you’d like to acknowledge and remember?
I know I’m going to make a special effort to keep up with some of my old friends, and while doing so, I know we’ll talk fondly of those we miss.