Slightly north of Miramar Road and just off the 15, you find yourself in a daze of furniture stores, fast-food restaurants and nondescript industrial parks reminiscent of the most mundane of tract housing. But there are a few diamonds in the rough.
Amongst the area’s big boys of AleSmith, Ballast Point, and a future site of Green Flash, Hess Brewing takes to the stage as San Diego’s first licensed nano brewery. Strolling into the tasting room, the atmosphere is evocative of your best friend’s garage; however, this skilled friend has just finished brewing some of the best beer in town on a custom-built system. Whichever of Hess’ five or six brews you try on tap, it’s as though that pint were painstakingly created with you in mind. This is fitting as it could very well be the case. Mike Hess and his talented team are offering a service that’s innovative and inspiring: “a unique beer specially brewed just for you and your occasion…If you give us six weeks notice, we can brew-to-order your own special batch.” That’s right – your very own Build-A-Beer to keep you warm at night. For a brewery whose 51-gallon batches are relatively small, their ideas prove to be anything but.
Hess’ glassware doesn’t lack in stature, either. Weighing – or voluming – in at 21.5oz when filled to the brim, these behemoths are known as Willi Becher pub glasses. They angle outwards until about 2/3 the way up, employ a striking green-and-gold color scheme and are free with the purchase of a taster set last we checked. The result: plenty of room for a frothy white head on your Claritas Kölsch.
There’s so much room in the glass, in fact, that a one-half liter (0,5L) line has them seeking certification with the Honest Pint Project. Bred out of contempt for falsely advertised “pints,” this project wants the customer to be sure they are getting the sixteen ounces they’ve paid for. Typical shaker glasses only contain about fourteen ounces of beer with a proper head. There are only two other establishments in San Diego that are officially certified. One of them is also the only other licensed nano brewery: Automatic Brewing Co. at Blind Lady Ale House. Let’s hope the nano-trend goes macro.
Hess is built for customer satisfaction. If you have a group of five or more, tasting room schedule be damned – they will open their tasting room, again, just for you (but don’t go banging on the door, call 619.887.6453 to make an appointment). Inside, Michael Skubic, the tasting room manager, sales representative and social media whiz can show you their hip iPad cash register. You’ll see other pieces of artwork as well, including two black walnut beams suspended from the ceiling that, if anything, can be used to spark small chat with fellow patrons. Just above the tap handles, an eleven-foot leather pistol holster by local artist Matt Mahoney looms. And yes, the barrel extends the entire length. Responding to a curious customer, Skubic aptly commented, “Every good bar has a gun behind it.” The bigger the gun, the better the bar? Looks like it.
Don’t miss Hess Brewing’s OktoberHess on Saturday, October 23rd, from 12p.m.-6p.m A new German “Festivus Dusseldorf Altbier”, Original Gravity 1.063 awaits you at 7955 Silverton Avenue, 92126