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Brews and bites in Livermore next weekend

Livermore Valley Craft Brew Festival returning May 7 after pandemic pause
Livermore Brew Festival 2019
Livermore Craft Brew Festival returns on May 7 with 40 craft breweries from throughout the Bay Area.

After a two-year hiatus, the Livermore Valley Craft Brew Festival is coming back next weekend with 40 craft breweries and several bites from throughout the Bay Area.

Among this year's vendors are a number of Tri-Valley breweries, as well as beermakers located across the Bay -- one of which sheds light on the Bay Area's wartime significance through sharing the stories of Vallejo's naval history. 

For Mare Island Brewing Co. history is at the heart of everything the company does, and this year, the brewery is bringing that history to the Livermore festival for the first time. 

According to co-founder Ryan Gibbons, participating in the event brings the brewery closer to its customers and provides the opportunity to share the stories of Vallejo's Mare Island with craft beer aficionados. He said the brewery, which has beers available at retail locations throughout the Tri-Valley, is showcasing its Saginaw Golden Ale (4.3% ABV) and Hydraulic Sandwich IPA (7.1% ABV).

"Those are two of our four core beers, but kind of really shows the lighter side and the heavier side of what we offer, and I know these are available at Total Wine so I want people to be able to have what they can actually get (locally)," Gibbons said.

The Saginaw Golden Ale, named after the first keel laid on Mare Island in 1859, frequently appeals to folks who prefer domestic brews, while the Hydraulic Sandwich IPA, named for the liquid lunch yardbirds often consumed, balances malt and hops for a smooth finish.

"Kent (Fortner) and I are winemakers by trade and one of the things we really wanted in our IPA was balance," Gibbons said. "We didn't want it to just be extremely alcoholic and hoppy; we wanted a malt weight to it too, because, for winemakers, we always like to pair our wine with food and we want the same with our beer. We want it to be part of the experience and we feel it's a really great balance of flavor, style and experience."

While this year is the first for Mare Island Brewing Co., this is the sixth annual Livermore Valley Craft Brew Festival, which is the the brainchild of Livermore Valley Craft Beer Foundation Executive Director Jon Sylvester. 

"This event started when some friends of mine and I thought it would be a good idea if Livermore had a craft beer related event that gave back to the community," he said. 

"We finally landed on doing a beer fest, and right away found that we could work with the people at a nice venue (The Shrine Event Center) that is also tied to the local Shriners that cover transportation and housing costs for families that are receiving care at the Shriners Children's Hospital in Sacramento," Sylvester added. 

Part of the proceeds from the event, said Sylvester will go to Shriners Hospitals for Children, but supporting the cause isn't the only reason to attend. In addition to the breweries, there will be live bands playing throughout the day and food available from six local restaurants and caterers. 

"Livermore Valley Craft Beer Festival is a fantastic party to come to with your friends to enjoy great music, while drinking delicious local craft beer with tasty food and supporting a great cause," Sylvester said.

Tickets, $50, for the festival, which runs from 1-5 p.m. next Saturday (May 7), are available at The Shrine Event Center is at 170 Lindbergh Ave. in Livermore.