The Sip: Hess Brewing
It’s surely been many a home brewers’ day dream, as another batch takes shape in the kitchen or garage—the chance to take a passion to the pro level and make a career from beer. Mike Hess was one such motivated dreamer and his Hess Brewing, founded last summer, has become a leading member of San Diego’s growing segment of nano-breweries, pint-sized operations whose production output is a relatively tiny drop in the craft-beer bucket. In May, they expanded their fermentation capacity by threefold and are in talks to log brewing time at a larger local brewery, with the intent to distribute the beer beyond their tasting room, which is currently the only place to sample or purchase it.
Hess Brewing, tucked in a Miramar-area office park, is currently brewing a core line-up of five beers (I like the roasty Ex Umbris, an Imperial Stout) and occasional seasonal styles. The brewery’s blog has become a popular resource for those hoping to make a similar leap from hobby brewing; in June, owner Mike Hess spoke as a panelist during a session on start-ups at the National Homebrewers Conference, held this year in San Diego, and entered a beer into the conference’s Pro-Am Competition in partnership with a well-respected local homebrewer, Kelsey McNair, who’s already bottled a winning recipe in collaboration with Ballast Point and Stone Brewing Co.
Hess still maintains his day job as a financial advisor while working with his team to grow the brewery; Hess Brewing has even begun to scout locations to open a bona-fide brewpub, keeping their search within the Miramar-Mira Mesa sector—alongside neighbors AleSmith Brewing Company and Green Flash Brewing Co.