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Hess Brewing Company opened their doors yesterday (July 7th, 2010) to become San Diego’s newest brewery, and according to their website San Diego’s first licensed nano-brewery. I can’t find a definative definition of nano-brewery, but as the name suggests, it’s a small brewery, even smaller than a “micro-brewery”. Hess Brewing Co. brews on a 1.6 barrel system, which means each batch of beer they brew is only 51 gallons. (By comparison, according to their website, Stone Brewing Co. has a 120 barrel brewing system, which comes to about 3720 gallons).

Hess Brewing Co. is located at 7955 Silverton #1201 in San Diego, just off Miramar Rd. (not far from Alesmith Brewing Co.). Their small warehouse space serves as both brewery and tasting room, brewing supplies and ingredients line the walls, the brewing system is off to one side and if you look carefully you can see a fermenter in a corner. Founder Mike Hess tells me he’s been homebrewing for about 15 years and has worked his way up from brewing on 5 gallon, to 10 and 20 gallon systems and now to Hess’s 50 gallon system.

With a solid lineup of five beers, ranging from a fairly light Kolsch to a high ABV Imperial IPA (also known as a “San Diego Pale Ale”) and a few other styles in between Hess has a good lineup. At the opening all five beers were available to sample, $10 got you 4oz samples of each, plus a half liter Hess Brewing Co. glass to take home. Each beer is also available individually, by the pint or in a growler to go.

Hess Brewing Co.’s five beers are:

  • Claritas Kolsch 5.8% ABV, 23.3 IBUs
  • Grazias Vienna Cream Ale, 5.4%, 37 IBUs
  • Intrepidus IPA, 8.4%, 88 IBUs
  • Amplus Acerba San Diego Pale Ale, 11.3%, 120 IBUs
  • Ex Umbris Rye Imperial Stout, 9.8%, 65 IBUs

With only about 4oz of each, it’s hard to fully judge each beer, but they were all good and the Claritas Kolsch and Amplus Acerba San Diego Pale Ale were my two favorite. None of the five beers tasted nearly as strong as their listed alcohol content would suggest. The Amplus Acerba San Diego Pale Ale was especially easy drinking for being 11.3% ABV. I look forward to trying each of these again, in a larger amount to get a better taste of each. As of right now the only place to get Hess Brewing Co.’s beer is at their tasting room. I’m told they might look to get some draft accounts at area beer bars in the future, but have nothing solid lined up yet.

If yesterday’s crowds (and how good the beer tasted) are any indication Hess Brewing Co. is sure to be a hit. Mike Hess told me that people started showing up right after the doors opened at 2pm. I was there for about an hour later in the evening and it was packed the entire time.

Check out some more pictures from Hess Brewing Co. below.

Menu board


Crowded on their first day

Brewing notes