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.
I am truly sorry for your loss, Greg. It saddens me that this bleak state is the current lay of the land at the moment. But I believe in Stone Brewing to be beacon on these uncertain times. As always, keep up the good fight and continue to do what you do.
Lovely eulogy. I recall years ago bringing a mix of can’t-get-in-the-Midwest beers back from the Bay Area and Moylan’s was one I really savored.
Funny that I was suspicious that you were eulogizing [Larry] Bells.
I grew up in Marin. I used to work out out a 24-hour Natulus right next to Marin Brew Co. Also loved A Clean Well Lighted Place For a Book. I had my first craft beer flight at Marin Brew Co. just days after my 21st birthday. I was so excited to finally get to order beer after enjoying their food for a few years before coming of age. Back then people were saying "Microbrew" less than "Craft Beer". They had excellent beers, and it's were I discovered the depth and range of various stouts. This would lay down my foundation for how to enjoy beer for the rest of my life - which influenced so much of how I would then approach enjoyed life in general. Beer is a social beverage, and Marin Brew Co. was responsible for adopting me into the wonderful beer nerd family. We'll miss you.
So true. I was saddened by the news and was in disbelief. But I had not stopped in for at least 6 or 7 years and realized I was part of its demise. I stopped by last Sunday to pay my respects and enjoy 2 final pints. I am going to Triple Rock in Berkeley this weekend just to say hello to an old freind.
Yes, it is like losing a friend. Thinking of Stoudt's Brewery and looking at a 1998 festival tasting glass on my kegerator. And looking at the tin tack for Boulder Beer Company's Mojo iPA. And fondly remembering various beers from Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project--ahh tell me about the fluffy white rabbits.
I was teethed on craft brews at Black Diamond Brewing, after encountering my first West Coast IPA at Pizza Port Solana Beach in (?) 1993. Early days, BD had a restaurant and brewery at North Main and Parkside in Walnut Creek, CA. Parking was severely limited, and the building now houses a Maserati dealership. I believe that they opened in 1996 or thereabouts. They later moved to a lower rent location in Concord, somewhat near where Epidemic Ales later opened a taproom (and their current location). BD seemed to be slow to add newer recipes, while local competitors Epidemic and Ale Industries (now in Oakland) were diverting beer freaks to their premises. BD closed their doors in 2017, unable to make rent. Miss them!
Stoudts Brewing ( Pennsylvania). Carol was a pioneer in Craft Brewing. Their beers were amazing
It is sad when an old friend departs. While visiting Jacksonville, FL this week, the very fine Main & Six Brewing Co., also a recent GABF winner, was closing. They invited all to come by for a final round. We aren't locals and are strangers to their house, but we witnessed many people singing praises to the owners, lots of hugs, some laughs, and a few tears. It will leave a hole that will eventually heal, but a hole nonetheless. The moral is, like your true human friends, embrace the moments you have with your favorite taprooms and breweries because you'll never know when they cease.
I was sad when I read the news of Marin Brewing closing, too. Though happy to know that Moylan's in Novato is staying open - let's all go lift a pint there!
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