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From Rock Bottom to Mike Hess

Head brewer from closed downtown brewpub finds new life in North Park

Jason Stockberger (center) in his new found Mike Hess Brewing Company glory.
Jason Stockberger (center) in his new found Mike Hess Brewing Company glory.
Place

Mike Hess Brewing North Park

3812 Grim Avenue, San Diego

Last October, I received an email from a colleague of a professional brewer Jason Stockberger asking if I knew of any open brewing positions. Stockberger’s job as head brewer was eliminated when national chain Rock Bottom closed the Gaslamp Quarter brewpub he’d headed for the past four years. I wasn’t aware of any positions that fit with his criteria — to get in with a larger operation with stability. Fortunately, good brewers don’t stay idle for long in this town.

In mid-October, Stockberger was hired by Mike Hess Brewing Company to assist head brewer Nate Sampson. Two months later, Sampson announced he would be leaving the company to return to his old stomping grounds in Oregon, where he brewed for many years before moving to San Diego to take the position with Hess. After a month or so of overlap, Stockberger was promoted to head-brewer status.

The company’s founder, Mike Hess, has actually known Stockberger for some time. Hess considers him a friend as well as an employee, and tells stories of how he used to get much of the yeast used to fuel his startup-era beers from the downtown Rock Bottom. The need for having brewers on staff for multiple shifts is what created the opening for Stockberger, who has since implemented many repeatable, system-like processes, and helped to birth new beers.

Among the new offerings are Hess’ first session or “small” (read, low-alcohol) India pale ale, a 5.6% alcohol-by-volume number called Grim Ave. IPA — a nod to the street where the company’s production brewery and tasting room are located. According to Hess, it’s been the fastest-growing beer in the young brewery’s history.

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Jason Stockberger (center) in his new found Mike Hess Brewing Company glory.
Jason Stockberger (center) in his new found Mike Hess Brewing Company glory.
Place

Mike Hess Brewing North Park

3812 Grim Avenue, San Diego

Last October, I received an email from a colleague of a professional brewer Jason Stockberger asking if I knew of any open brewing positions. Stockberger’s job as head brewer was eliminated when national chain Rock Bottom closed the Gaslamp Quarter brewpub he’d headed for the past four years. I wasn’t aware of any positions that fit with his criteria — to get in with a larger operation with stability. Fortunately, good brewers don’t stay idle for long in this town.

In mid-October, Stockberger was hired by Mike Hess Brewing Company to assist head brewer Nate Sampson. Two months later, Sampson announced he would be leaving the company to return to his old stomping grounds in Oregon, where he brewed for many years before moving to San Diego to take the position with Hess. After a month or so of overlap, Stockberger was promoted to head-brewer status.

The company’s founder, Mike Hess, has actually known Stockberger for some time. Hess considers him a friend as well as an employee, and tells stories of how he used to get much of the yeast used to fuel his startup-era beers from the downtown Rock Bottom. The need for having brewers on staff for multiple shifts is what created the opening for Stockberger, who has since implemented many repeatable, system-like processes, and helped to birth new beers.

Among the new offerings are Hess’ first session or “small” (read, low-alcohol) India pale ale, a 5.6% alcohol-by-volume number called Grim Ave. IPA — a nod to the street where the company’s production brewery and tasting room are located. According to Hess, it’s been the fastest-growing beer in the young brewery’s history.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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