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Owner: 'I wanted it to be centered on the beer, and let people animate the place'

It may come as a surprise that a brewer of more than 80,000 barrels a year wouldn?t already have a tasting room, but founder Tony Magee, who compared his first experience brewing to the jolt of a seizure, said it has taken the 15-year-old company this long to consider such a project.

?There was a time when I was literally scraping everything I had to keep this thing going, borrowing from friends, family, neighbors, the vet, anyone. It was not easy,? he said.

Now in its third consecutive year of gains, growing by 32 percent last year and garnering recognition as one of the industry?s rising stars, finances finally allowed for major investment. Construction kicked off a little more than a month ago and will officially conclude this fall with a grand opening, though the company hosted a soft launch earlier this month.

The 3,500-square-foot tasting room, beer garden and music venue at first seems a little out of place, nestled in the center of Petaluma?s McDowell Boulevard industrial park. But that is quickly overcome by the scent of boiling hops from the brewery just steps away.

The outdoor space includes new landscaping, an outdoor stage, Oktoberfest-type banquet tables, Adirondacks and plenty of shade from canopies, overhangs and umbrellas. Inside, the format is similar to a typical wine tasting room, with a smaller seating area overlooking the garden.

?We didn?t want to do anything too glamorous or exotic. I wanted it to be centered on the beer, comfortable and let the people animate the place,? Magee said.

Known for his imaginative events including the recent ?beer circus? and the annual skunk train, Magee said he hopes the finished product is something unexpected.

?This space really has the potential to do whatever we feel like and I am excited to get it moving,? he said.

The tap room will be open Wednesday through Friday 3 to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sundays from 1 to 7 p.m. with live music every evening and regular brewery tours.

A small menu of soups, paninis and other small dishes will be served table side with suggested malt pairings for about $12 an entr?. Several local wines will also be served as well as one or two guest microbrews and experimental, onsite-only Lagunitas taps.

The brewery produces seven varieties of the frothy beverage year-round and nine seasonal labels. With the recent purchase of new tanks and manufacturing tools, Lagunitas has the capacity to produce 250,000 annually, but Magee said he wouldn?t want to grow beyond that amount.


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