This is the first of many posts to come (about one a month this year) where I focus on wonderful but sometimes not well known beer bars around Orange County. First on the list, let’s visit Mission Bar.
Mission Bar in Downtown Santa Ana is turning three years young this Saturday. Run by operating owner Vanessa Lynn Pozzobon, this cozy little bar is not only a wonderful hangout but is also proud a supporter of the craft beer industry. It may be known by the regulars who visit Mission Bar, and it should not be overlooked by those looking for a place to enjoy a good beer in an unassuming atmosphere.
Pozzobon left the States in 2012 to live in Australia, only to return three years ago. “When I came back, I needed a job,” Pozzobon states. She was in the States only three days and was offered an opportunity by a friend to assist in opening what is now Mission Bar. Pozzobon helped set it all up for about a week and, in short order, she quickly went from serving beer to managing to becoming the operating owner. Pozzobon had to learn all about the O.C. beer scene in short order. She later added, “I never thought I’d be back in the beer industry, let alone running a craft beer bar, but I love it!”
When you first walk in, you’ll first notice the ambiance that some might consider a dive bar with the dim lighting, pool tables, and the hallway-like layout. It is a friendly place where you can loosen up your collar; no pretentiousness to be found at all. But 44 taps flowing only independent craft beer elevate Mission Bar into a place to be noticed.
Aside from a few tap wines and a couple of ciders, the variety of beers is quite impressive. All beers are independent craft from all areas, with a good focus on O.C. The closest to a big brewery I noticed on the board was Hofbräu, which is owned by the state of Bavaria. They make amazing traditional beers, and I was happy to see them up on the board.
The cozy bar quickly became the preferred watering hole to locals. “We have customers that sometimes come in seven times a week, and we get to know them personally,” Pozzobon proudly proclaimed. A handful of these regulars walked in asking for a common light lager. “They came in asking for Modelo, and we encouraged them to try new beers,” she added. Upon my visit, I wonder how many of those I shared the bar with are new in getting into craft beer. It was a beautiful thought.
Plans of expanding are always on Pozzobon’s mind. She would love to make the current location larger if the opportunity presented itself. There’s also the idea to open a second location somewhere in O.C. “The goal is to have a small kitchen, an outdoor area, and a place to have local bands play some shows,” Pozzobon explained. Hopefully that plan comes to fruition soon.
I have a mission for you. Stop by this Saturday and congratulate this toddler of bar on three years of slinging great beers. Here’s to the first three years and to many, many more!
302 N. Main St.
Editor’s note: Charlie Perez is an Advanced Cicerone® who covers the Orange County beer scene for the Booze Blog.