The arrival of Imperial Beach’s newest brewery tasting room has been a long time coming. Mike Hess Brewing originally announced its intentions to build a satellite venue at 805 Ocean Lane in July of 2017. The project’s ETA at that time was early 2018, but myriad issues (chiefly construction costs, which doubled from original estimates) delayed its progress significantly. Owner Mike Hess ended up becoming the project’s general contractor, working with the City of Imperial Beach on creative solutions as well as a strategic two-phase rollout of the tasting room, which soft-opened to the public last Friday.
Phase one of the project is the debut of the fully built-out, 1,650-square-foot tasting room. In addition to Mike Hess beer, that space offers food from local Mexican chain City Tacos. Phase two will see appurtenant structures constructed, included an elevated 60-foot deck overlooking Seacoast Drive, seating-equipped shipping containers and a 3,000-square-foot beer garden. The latter will include a satellite bar, fire pits, a dozen picnic tables, sand, artificial turf, decomposed granite, assorted games and activities, and a grand boardwalk serving as an indoor-outdoor transition path.
“The beer garden is a key element in the project,” says Hess. “IB is a super-chill town, laid back with a lot of locals and lots of people who are passionate about the city and its vibe. We love it and that’s our MO, too.”
An exact date has yet to be set, but Hess plans to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Imperial Beach mayor Serge Dedina, and members of the City Council and Planning Department. When asked if he believes Imperial Beach can thrive in terms of brewery-owned venues, Hess is optimistic, but warns against saturation.
“I think we’ve seen that the expression ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’ is only true to an extent. At some point, all additional breweries do in any neighborhood, whether it’s Kearny Mesa or North Park, is dilute the pool of drinkers, spendable dollars, etc. A solid business plan does not involve being the fifth or tenth brewery in a neighborhood. There are now two breweries built and one more in planning in IB. Those three will thrive and I believe that is thriving.”