Walter Mencken 11 a.m., May 24
Beer Week Basics: Hess
The who, what, when, and where about rapidly-growing local company, Hess Brewing.
Part two of this San Diego Beer Week-inspired getting-to-know-you series spotlighting individual local brewing companies finds us in the Miramar area, a part of town that is suddenly packed with brewing companies, from award-winning stalwarts like AleSmith to newbies like Rough Draft Brewing Company to up-and-comers like today’s subject: Hess Brewing Company.
The Basics: Homebrewer Michael Hess turned pro in 2010 when his nanobrewery went live in a hidden away suite deep within a labyrinth-like business park. Despite being somewhat difficult to find, he was able to attract visitors early on thanks in part to concerted social media efforts. Despite having a smallish facility that was more cluttered garage than a swanky tasting space with loads of marketable appeal, many who spelunked Hess’ libation lab came back and brought friends—the ultimate sign of respect and brand loyalty. It’s a testament to what makes the craft brewing industry as great as it is. It isn’t about aesthetics, clever names, slogans, or amenities. In the end, it’s all about the beer and customers’ satisfaction with a quality product.
The Beers: Chances are, you aren’t familiar with Hess’ beers. Due primarily to the fact that the company’s facility was so small and couldn’t produce enough beer, few bars and restaurants are able to get kegs despite the fact many would very much like to. The upcoming opening of a much larger second brewhouse in North Park should help to get more beer out there and expose the drinking masses to what’s largely only been available to business park voyagers.
Hess produces beers that are, for the most part, very different from what others are making in San Diego (or anywhere). Think lighter bodied beers infused with coffee, and saisons that are black and roasty versus golden and peppery. Hess’ popular core beers include Grazias, a Vienna cream ale brewed with German and Czech hops, and Ex-Umbris, an imperial porter with tremendous depth and dark chocolate tones. Hoppy brews are also a part of their MO, as exemplified by Intrepidus IPA and a “San Diego” pale ale with the moniker Amplus Acerba.
One More Round: As mentioned above, just over two years into the brewery’s life, Hess is poised to open its second location with a 30-barrel brewhouse and a 3,000 square foot tasting space in a former bible bookstore a short stumble from 30th Street in the bustling North Park community. If Hess was able to make a hotspot of its current humble home base, it stands to reason they’ll make a social hub out of their new digs. Bonus, the new place will include a canning line, meaning Hess will be more readily available for off-site quaffing.
Whereabouts: Until the North Park location opens its doors, you’ll need to take that winding drive through the business park maze to visit Hess’ original location (7955 Silverton Avenue, Suite 1201, Miramar). With a tasting room that’s doubled in size and much more fan-friendly, it will be worth the trip, especially if you visit on a Friday when their FAC (Friday Afternoon Club) convenes with food vendors beginning in the early afternoon.
Previous Posts in this Series: Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits