The biggest news in San Diego Beer yesterday was the soft opening of the tasting room at Mission Brewery’s new downtown location. When we first arrived at 1pm, the first and second customers had just been handed their beers, the chalkboard beer list hadn’t yet been put up, and owner Dan Selis was moving kegs to block a secondary entrance to the building. The space is a big work-in-progress, but the potential is undeniable. Located steps from a big tailgating parking lot which itself is directly adjacent to Petco Park, it would be naive to think the brewery will not be wildly successful.
Dan was nice enough to take a few of us on a short impromptour of the facility, which was built in 1894 and used to house the Wonderbread factory. Much of the building’s shell is original, including four 14”x14”x30′ douglas-fir beams that run the width of the East side. That’s not to say the team didn’t have their work cut out for them: “We’ve been through everything. Dirt…dust…you name it. It’s been a challenge,” says Dan. “It took five tankers to pour the concrete that’s under the fermenters. That was a long day.” And the job’s not done yet – restrooms still need to built, a new fermenter is coming in about 60 days, the room containing the bottling lines complete with public viewing area currently acts as partial storage, and the coldroom is yet to go in.
Luckily, they’ve got some help from General Contractor Joe, a 71 year-old jack-of-all-trades who is a black belt, an accomplished dancer, and was the boxing coach of “the guy who beat Sugar Ray Leonard,” according to Dan. Joe was even able to get the glycol system up-and-running having never seen one before – “the company switched the inputs and outputs, and he was still able to figure it out.” Joe was also proud of the two long wooden bars he constructed from pine, “the cheapest wood we could get. They had a quote for about $130,000 – I did it for $20k.” One of the bars is 91 feet and sits right up against the brewhouse.
The opening coincided perfectly with the Padres home opener, in which San Diego native and Patrick Henry grad Aaron Harang took the win against the pompous San Francisco Giants and their obnoxious Halloween-color-clad fans (yes I could go on and on). It will be exciting to see the brewery’s tasting room fill up over the coming days and weeks; even yesterday unknowing wanderers tip-toed in big-eyed and thirsty, visibly excited to soon tell their fizzy yellow beer-drinking friends about the new find. What’s even better is that soon tailgaters can fill their growlers to-go, and there were rumors of possible keg deliveries to the parking lot via golf cart in the near future. Check out all the photos from yesterday’s festivities over on our Facebook.