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Lagunitas To Expand Into Distilling

After a lengthy struggle where apparently one neighbor refused to willingly let his new neighbor build on the adjacent property in a way that was approved by nearly every governmental and environmental agency, Lagunitas owner Tony Magee’s plans for the land he owns in Tomales Bay was finally approved by the California state Coastal Commission in a 7-2 vote yesterday. The property is in the unincorporated town of Marshall in western Marin County.

According to the Marin IJ, “The project, overlooking the east shore of Tomales Bay at the northwest corner of 17990 Highway 1, includes a residence, garage, brandy distillery producing about 280 gallons a year, an equipment barn, shed, hops shelter, two sheep shelters, a greenhouse, a new well, special wastewater treatment and related improvements. Three public tours for up to eight people each will be offered for four hours on Saturdays. Brandy will be offered for sale to those on tours, but no tastings will be allowed.”

“Magee and one employee plan to cultivate hops on 6 acres and English dessert grapes on 6 acres, and graze about 35 pair of lambs and ewes on 50 acres. Other livestock would include 100 chickens.” Five years ago, almost to the day, I wrote about Lagunitas planting hops on this same bit of land, in Lagunitas Plants Hops in Tomales Bay, and this was the view at that time.

So the brandy should be interesting; micro-distilling is certainly a hot trend lately. I’m sure the hops they’ll be growing will be for Lagunitas beer, but I wonder if the 6 acres of grapes will be used for the brandy? It’s seem likely, but we’ll have to wait and see. I assume it will be a while before there’s any brandy to taste.

But I think my favorite part of this story is that in the headline, the newspaper refers to Lagunitas owner Tony Magee as a “beer baron.” Lagunitas has certainly become one of the bigger small breweries, but I’m not sure they’ve ventured into “beer baron” territory. Either way, I don’t think I’ll be able to not think of Tony as a beer baron in the future. I recently did a feature profile of Magee in the latest issue of Beer Connoisseur if you want to learn about Tony and Lagunitas. If only I’d known then that he was a beer baron.

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