This one is a bit further south, located in one of my favorite vacation spots, San Diego.
When I first try a new brewery from this town - which, by the way, was discovered by the Germans in 1904, whence they named it San Diego, which, of course, in German means a whale's vagina - I have to grab their version of an IPA. One sip of this style will tell me if the brewery is going to be legitimate and long-standing, because SoCal has become the standard by which other American IPA's are measured. If they fall flat in that category, it may be all downhill from then on...
Mission Brewery IPA is a 6.8% ABV, bright gold brew with a two-finger, rocky, off-white head of lacy foam. It smells distinctively of Cascade hops, and the beer's label has several intriguing aspects to it: a unique, bold-red Spanish cross with two galleons emblazoned on the front; the dates 1913 and 2007; a picture of a bronze medal from the 2007 Great American Beer Fest (encouraging!) and a quote, "Fraught with hops, complex, vigorous and virile." Well, I like the sound of that!
So then I had to check out the website to figure out what those dates meant, and here is what I came up with: It is not a life lived (1903 TO 2007), but a story of two births. Mission Brewery was actually originally founded back in 1903 by Friar Junipero Serra, was closed down during the onset of Prohibition, and then was re-established in 2007 by Dan Selis - the new Founder and CEO.
And they make some good beer! The first sip of this one is bready and spicy, and incredibly drinkable at just under 7%. The mid-range is sticky and sweet, but it comes back around with a biting, VERY dry finish.
Mission Brewery Dark Seas Russian Imperial Stout is a 9.8% ABV, viscous, black brew with a one-finger, dense tan head that lingers like the foamy cap of a breaker. It smells of dark chocolate, roasted barley, sweet toffee and booze.
The first sip is sweet and heavy with lots of chocolate and java. I also get some smoked peat and vanilla...However, the brewery describes it best, "Notes of plum and port, and velvety texture so luscious it just might make a grown man weep."
Tradition says that from their origin, the Czars tried to keep the recipes of Russian Imperial Stouts to themselves. I might have wept if this style was withheld from me!