I finally got the chance to visit Mission Brewery in San Diego. I have meant to steer myself there for a while now, but for one reason or another, never have until now. This was an old brick building in San Diego’s East Village that used to be a Wonder Bread factory next to Petco Park. The surrounding area was a little…let’s call it unsavory, with lots of homeless in residence along most of the sidewalks and some trash blowing around, but the brewery was nice. As I mentioned, it was all brick and cement on the outside, complete with cracks and debris, all which served its old-world feel. Inside was more brick walls and cement floor, but the ceiling was an impressive display of wood that very much resembled a ship’s hull. Indeed, the bar to the right was made of wood that looked as though it was pulled straight from the deck of a galleon. To the left were tasting tables made from old barrels, along with longer regular tables, both hi-top and low. Also to the left was the brewing area, with a tasting counter surrounding two edges of it. No employees manned the counter and I saw no taps, so I thought it odd. The whole brewing area was unlit, apparently the case when not in use. From the ceiling above hung wrought iron chandeliers that I swore were right out of a European castle somewhere. There were also two shuffleboard tables with lots of rowdy patrons around them and a merchandise shop at the back. Never one to waste an opportunity to taste, I got two: the Mission Hard Root Beer and Gentleman Grant Imperial Red Aged in Manhattan Whiskey Barrels with Cherries (a mouthful, but that’s the actual name.) Mission Hard Root Beer (7.5% abv): This poured like, well, root beer, dark brown with large brown head. The smell was only of root beer. The taste was boozy, with a little licorice. The root beer taste was definitely present, but the vodka-like punch of this one was a bit distracting. I found the whole drink a bit astringent.
The Imperial Red (8.5% abv) was a treat. It poured deep orange-red with not much carbonation and thin white head. Aromas were mild, with hints of cherry and malt, but no whiskey. There was definite cherry flavor up front, with a little malt sweetness and then the whiskey kick in the middle. Medium bodied and lightly carbonated, it finished with some cherry sweetness and a touch of whiskey trailing. Though there were not many elements to this, I enjoyed its subtlety.
I finished up with a coffee drink, the Dark Seas Russian Imperial Stout with Espresso (9.8% abv). This one poured black with dark brown head that reminded me of root beer. Heavy aromas of coffee and roasted malts. The taste was all coffee up front with some dark roasted malts underneath. With a medium-thick body, the middle was strong and boozy, lightening up a bit to mostly mild coffee on the finish. Another dynamic beer with few flavors.
This brewery is definitely worth a visit. Plus, as is the trend in San Diego, they have a food truck show up every day out front.