The first quart can to be used by a US microbrewer, Mission’s quarts hold the ambitious microbrewery’s popular Shipwrecked Double IPA and its hoppy new session beer, El Conquistador Extra Pale Ale. The quart cans are Mission’s first entry in the popular canned craft beer niche.
“We’re the little brewery with the huge package,” says Martin Saylor, Mission’s national sales director. “The idea of our luscious beers in a gigantic quart can cracked us up, and no microbrewery has ever done them before. There are also a lot of benefits to the quart can, so we went for them.”
The move to quart cans came about earlier this year when Mission founder Dan Selis was in a meeting with his California distributor. “One of their staff,” Selis recalls, “said, ‘I’m waiting for a microbrewery to get off its ass and put out a beer in an oil can like Fosters.’ After the meeting I couldn’t stop thinking about that.”
While investigating the 25-oz can, Selis discovered Ball Packaging’s new quart can.
“We’re always looking for ways to make better beer and have more fun,” Selis says. “We also like the benefits of cans and had been thinking about using them. The quart can meant we could hit our goals and embrace cans in a novel, status-quo-smashing fashion.”
El Conquistador is a low-alcohol hoppy showcase. It sports the hop charms one expects in an IPA, but in an ultra-quaffable ale of just 4.8% ABV. Complex, thrilling and sublimely drinkable, El Conquistador is built with pale malts, a touch of crystal malt, and a few treasure chests of Centennial and experimental hops.
“It’s the ultimate session beer for hopheads,” says Mission head brewer John Egan.
Shipwrecked Double IPA delivers the unctuous hop punch you’d expect in a West Coast IIPA, but with an equally hearty compliment of malted barley. The beer is lush with pine, citrus and candied grapefruit notes from a hop blend that includes Cascade and Magnum hops. These charms meld with chewy caramel notes, a velvety body and a slow bite of finishing hops. The beer is 9.25% ABV.
“Shipwrecked is a session beer, too,” Egan says with a grin. “For a much longer session.”
Like all cans, Mission’s quart cans offer full protection from light and oxygen damage, are welcome in places bottles aren’t allowed, and help Mission shrink its carbon footprint for shipped beer. “But our cans,” Saylor adds, “also deliver two full pints of our beer. So beer lovers get a big-volume beer in a lightweight, ultra-portable, infinitely recyclable, freshness-keeping cylinder.”
“They’re also pretty hilarious to see,” Saylor adds, “and make for a unique and jarring presentation for our small-batch beers. Our retailers really like them.”
Mission’s quart cannons and draft and bottled beers are distributed in Ohio by Cavalier Distributing. The cans are filled on a Cask Brewing Systems machine that was custom-built for Mission and its 32-ounce cans.
“Craft brewers,” says Ball Packaging’s Jerod Brody, “are incredibly creative in finding ways to make their brands stand out, and few packages make a bigger impact than our 32-oz can. It provides a huge 360-degree billboard for branding, and it’s also shareable and encourages socializing with friends.”
Mission Brewery was opened in 2007 by Selis and his wife Sarah Selis. The two were successful but disenchanted members of the mortgage-banking business prior to opening Mission. “The more bored I got with real estate finance,” Dan recalls, “the more I dreamed of turning my homebrewing hobby into my career.”
In 2013 Mission produced 8,900 barrels of beer, this year it expects to make about 16,000 barrels. Mission beers are sold in CA, CO, NV, AZ, IN, OH, PA, FL, MD, NC, VA and KY.
Mission Brewery is located in an 1894 structure in downtown San Diego, on the edge of the city’s popular Gas Lamp District. The building (now on the National Historic Register) once served as a Wonder Bread bakery. The bakery’s flour silo has been repurposed as Mission’s grain silo and mill.
The building is also home to Mission’s popular tasting room, which allows customers to drink within reach of the brewers and their brewing equipment. The brewery’s name is a nod to one of San Diego’s first breweries, founded in 1913 and shuttered when Prohibition began.