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September 19, 2021

Brewing to the pursuit of happiness

Mad Pursuit Brewing Company officially opens for business

There was no special ribbon cutting ceremony or confetti falling from the sky, but beer connoisseurs lined up on July 2 for the grand opening of Mad Pursuit Brewing Company in Hollister.

Daniel Villalon was hanging out in the front patio area with family members as they snatched a glass of the latest, and newest, suds in town. The 38-year-old Hollister native said the brewery, located at 628 San Benito St., is very sleek-looking, family-oriented and the beer tastes delicious. 

“Anything that’s local I love to support,” Villalon said. “The atmosphere is absolutely awesome and I just wish them all the success.”

Mad Pursuit co-owner Alex DeLeon said the place was buzzing during the opening weekend but that was expected because of the Independence Day holiday weekend. 

“It was a little hectic,” he said. 

It took roughly four years for DeLeon and his fellow brewmates, Lino Gonzalez and Paul Swearingen, to get the place open. The building process took longer than expected, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic forced them to stop the remodel inside the building.

“It’s been a struggle but it’s a labor of love,” he said. “It doesn’t feel like I’m working.”

DeLeon, who is a Hollister native, used to work at a movie theater for nearly 20 years and gained experience as a manager. He said that gig was considered more like a job because he was working for someone else. 

DeLeon and his cousin, Gonzalez, got into the craft beer scene and they noticed that Hollister was underserved. That’s when the light bulb went off and they began to envision a nice spot to make some good beers.

One day, DeLeon picked up a turkey deep fryer and he started his own batch of beer, which turned out to be an amber ale. He kept it in a glass carboy and babysat the brew everyday.

“I’d come home and check on it, see the activity and I was just hooked from there,” he said.

DeLeon said they had some help from Steel Bonnet Brewing Company of Scotts Valley, which took the trio under their wing and helped them navigate the creation of a functional brewery. 

They also had assistance from their Founding Members group of 100 people who helped the crew with funding for construction costs. DeLeon said the plan was to open last year in September but those plans were pushed back due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

“It was definitely stressful, especially the money and everything that goes with it,” he said.

Villalon said a taproom or brewery is more personable than a bar and the menu is easier to read because it’s just beer. He added that the demographics are slightly different with different types of vibes.

“[Brewery] is a lot more lowkey and it brings families together,” he said.

Villalon started his local craft beer adventures by visiting San Andreas Brewing in Hollister, which he said started it all. That place has been shut down but he mentioned having other tap rooms and breweries pop up in the county brings a diverse crowd.

He said having a local source for beer changes the community as far as bringing people together.

“It doesn’t matter where you’re from, people want to drink good beer,” he said.

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