Mission Brewing Company By: Chris Wise
How do you go from selling commercial property for Wells Fargo to owning and operating one of the breweries registered in California? Ask Dan Selis, who resurrected Mission Brewing after nearly 90 years of inactivity. Selis started brewing Mission beer in 2007 when he began operating a small brewery attached to a restaurant in La Jolla, California. Mission Brewery was a historic part of San Diego, starting in 1913 and being closed down by prohibition, and Dan, as a homegrown San Diegan, wanted to pay homage to that history. Dan started his beer making journey making home brews in his early twenties, and it has taken him to their current location in the Gas Lamp Quarter of San Diego.
After spending two years successfully nurturing his business, Dan Selis realized he had outgrown his first brewery. Mission moved to a new, larger complex in Chula Vista; in another two years, Mission was on the move again. This time, Mission made the jump into the historic 14,000 square foot Wonder Bread building (built in 1834) in the Gas Lamp Quarter of San Diego. The larger facility allows the brewery to produce 10,000-plus barrels a year, which, as Dan Selis explains, accommodates the incredible growth in the craft beer market. “We entered the beer industry at a great time,” Dan explains. “The industry is increasing double-digits every year. In terms of dollars, it’s the hottest section in alcohol.”
Not only does the larger facility allow for more production, it also allows for the public to meet with the brewers face-to-face and provide feedback in the tasting room, which can accommodate up to 400 visitors at one time. Dan explains “Now, we not only get to sell it [our beer], we can also use the tasting facility to as a lab to create new beers.” Visitors will be able to sign up for tours of the facility, sample seven of the brews, or sign up for a viewing of their favorite variety getting bottled. Martin Saylor, national sales manager, explained they have tried to make the brewery as open to the public as possible, even allowing visitors to bring their dogs in with them.
How has Mission been able to expand so quickly while also maintaining a loyal following among beer aficionados? One reason is their head brewer, John Egan, has experience working with a nationally competitive beer, Stone Brewing. Coming to Mission in hopes of imparting some of his knowledge, Egan has been able to maintain the quality of their main brews in the face of increased production, while expanding their seasonal output. Mission has five mainstay brews: three German styles and two IPAs. The three German style brews are the Mission Amber, the Mission Blonde, and the Mission Hefeweizen, and the IPAs are the Mission IPA and the Shipwrecked Double IPA. In addition to these five beers, Selis explains, “John will be making a new beer every other month, and we’ll test it here in the tasting room, in other bars, and in places outside of San Diego. With that feedback, we can see what’s got the potential for production on a larger scale.” Egan even recently came out with an Extra Pale Ale, El Conquistador EPA, in honor of his newly born son, Jasper.
While it may sound like Mission has been impossibly busy over the last couple of years, they also stay busy participating in local events and charities. In June of 2013, Mission hosted Pints for Pups at their brewery to help benefit San Diego’s Guide Dogs for the Blind non-profit organization. On August 22, they are having a beer pairing at Morton’s Steakhouse to exhibit how well Mission beers go with quality steaks. This September, they will be participating in Drink Eat Play’s Septemberfest, America’s answer to Oktoberfest. The festival will feature over 150 types of beer, countless food options, and “and all in all, a celebration of everything that’s great about American culture.”
While Mission may have a rich history, its owner Dan Selis is resting on his laurels. Mission is constantly looking forward to come up with new recipes or get their delicious brews into the hands of those who have never tasted them. Whether you happen to be at the San Diego Padre’s Petco Stadium or at your local pub, check out one of Mission’s five classic brews or one of their exciting seasonal brews.
Mission’s take on an IPA celebrates the history of IPAs while also interpreting it in a distinctively modern American style. This IPA won the bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2007, and has been a mainstay at Mission ever since. Mission describes the IPA: “Cascade and Centennial hops are employed generously and the result is an earthy ale that is most drinkable.” If you’re looking for a delicious IPA to enjoy any time, grab a case of Mission IPA.
6.8% ABV, 66 IBU
Shipwrecked Double IPA
Winner of the 2012 silver medal at the Los Angeles International Commercial Beer Competition, this double IPA is so eminently drinkable one hardly realizes it’s a DIPA. With the mix of fruits and depth of the malt-backed finish, the Shipwrecked DIPA is instantly distinct. By using three types of hops, Cascade, CTZ, and Centennial hops, this DIPA provides the drinker with an intense hop profile. After a particularly hard day at the office, grab this double IPA to wash away the worries of your day.
9.25% ABV, 75 IBU
This Dusseldorf-Style Altbier was winner of the gold medal at both the 2008 San Diego Professional Beer Competition and 2013 California State Fair Commercial Craft Brewing Competition, with good reason. With a lager-like spirit and toasty character, this Amber brew balances the bitterness perfectly. Mission has achieved a beer with a lingering sweet caramel taste buttressed by the generous use of Munich, Vienna and Pilsner malts. Anybody looking for a very session-able beer need look no further.
5% ABV, 43 IBU
This Imperial Red Ale is a balance of malts and citrus which results in a brew that head salesman Martin Saylor notes “drinks like satin.” Mission came up with this beer by dry hopping a healthy dose of kettle hops with Summit and Cascade hops. The crystal and rye malts, along with a dash of brown sugar, produce a complex, malty taste. A different brew than many others Mission has to offer, the Carrack is an intense drink which rewards the drinker with a complex taste.
10.2% ABV, 71 IBU
El Conquistador Extra Pale Ale
A Session-Style American Pale Ale, El Conquistador boasts a hoppy taste while not overloading the drinker with its alcohol content. This XPA offers drinkers a bready, malty body highlighted by the soft lemon and melon esters flavors. By dry hopping Centennial and experimental hops from the Yakima Valley, Mission has created an XPA with a pale golden color and loads of hoppy flavor. Brewed in celebration of the head brewer’s son’s birth, drink one down to celebrate all that is good about life.
4.8% ABV, 44 IBU
Mission Beers are proudly distributed locally by Galli Distributing.