Last night, for the first time in more than a year, I pulled my old guitar from its melancholy confines in the bedroom closet, wiped off the dust that had collected between the strings, and played. My fingers were stubborn at first, reluctant to perform bends and stretches outside their now-usual routine. But forcing them into a familiar shape — the G major chord, always my favorite — jump-started a sort of muscle memory. Soon I plucked old songs from seldom-used shelves of recollection and my ears rang with the screech of hands across wound steel. By the time I stopped, the friction of the strings had rubbed my fingertips smooth.
Nothing is ever truly forgotten.
Built in 1913 in what’s now downtown San Diego, the Mission Brewery was the first facility built for beer production in the Mission Revival architectural style, which was all the rage at the time. The Mission beers, however, weren’t — teetotalers and anti-alcohol activists had turned many in the country against the brewery’s products. Mission’s brewers, sensing the looming muzzle of Prohibition, began production in 1915 of a non-alcoholic drink called Hopski. It sold poorly, however, and the brewery closed three years later. In the decades following, the building that was once Mission Brewery housed a hospital, an agar production plant and all manner of smaller offices. But the memory of beer remained imprinted in its walls.
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Nothing is ever truly forgotten. In 2012, after nearly a century, the smell of boiling hops and grain once again filled Mission Brewery’s architecturally significant walls. The name — Acoustic Ales Brewing Experiment — was new, but the process and the passion had never left. Operating out of San Diego’s most historic brewing landmark, Acoustic Ales recaptured Mission’s mission and built upon its foundation, expanding production throughout California and, recently, into our state.
The beers we’ll soon see in Arizona, packaged in 22-ounce bottles, range from decent to pretty good. Run For The Hills, an imperial IPA, contrasts nice flavors such as baked oranges, toasted biscuits, fermented flower petals, and pineapple chunks with a hard-to-ignore husky grain note. The Groupie, a sunset-colored Belgian blonde ale, gives off aromas of pink peppercorns, bananas, soft herbal hops, and toasted crackers, while sprinkles of anise and semi-tart apples are added in the beer’s sugary flavor. A triple IPA called Hop-Way to the Danger Zone boasts 10 percent ABV that’s incredibly well-hidden behind toasted rye, bread crust, caramel apple, orange juice, and candy corn. Other brews display similar homages in their names to famous rock bands or songs, as with the Belgian witbier Witte Snake; Back in the GSSR, a rye IPA; or my personal favorite, a wheat ale called Hot for Wheat-cher.
Acoustic Ales will begin appearing on shelves later this month. Set a reminder to go pick some up — while nothing is ever truly forgotten, a little extra planning never hurts.