7955 Silverton Avenue #1201, Miramar
3812 Grim Avenue, North Park
Mike and Greg Hess have come a long way from the mid-‘90s, when they lived in San Francisco and Philadelphia, respectively, and would share news of their homebrewing adventures over the phone. Back then, their idea of a big brew day was getting together at their parents’ house on Thanksgiving and cooking up a collaboration beer in the driveway. Things weren’t all that different when they went pro in 2010, opening a nanobrewery in a Miramar business suite, where a batch of beer equaled 20 gallons That’s just one-and-one-third half-barrel kegs if you’re into conversions. But then, everything changed in a big way.
The Hesses now brew in a large, two-story brewery in the heart of North Park, and batches of their Latin-named beers are brewed 30 barrels at a time — 60 half-barrel kegs…quite the increase. Despite the canyon-like production differential between their original and current brewing systems (both of which are still operative in their respective facilities), only one batch hasn’t passed muster. In fact, their very first brew on the 30-barrel brewhouse, a robust porter, was so good it elicited high-fives and a portion was stored away in a bourbon whiskey barrel, where it has sat for the past year. It will be released as a specialty in the near future, but before that happens, another tasty special release will be offered to the Hesses’ fans — Mike Hess Anno Quarto.
The beer is the latest in a long line of big IPAs from Mike Hess Brewing Company. Fortified with “tons” of Amarillo, Simcoe, and Nugget hops, it presents huge flavors of peach, apricot, and orange with a hint of cantaloupe in the finish. A malt bill containing Munich, Carafoam, and Cara 45 introduce a caramel character that adds depth and stands up to all of the hops. This delicious, 10.75%-ABV brew will be available along with 12 different versions of the brewery’s Grazias Vienna Cream Ale—each made different through collaborative efforts with San Diego breweries that have been helpful to the Hesses as they came up in the local scene — at Hess Fest, a fourth-anniversary celebration at the North Park brewery on July 19.