In late 2009, during the process of moving from East County San Diego to the coast, Mike Hess relocated his financial services office into a light industrial park along Miramar Road, close to his children’s school and his new home. This new industrial office was chosen with full knowledge of an added bonus—an 800 ft² garage that was originally procured to hold his home brewing setup, which outgrew his new home.
Several months later, an article on the concept of “nano” brewing piqued Mike’s interest. As a home brewer for 15 years, Mike had always dreamed of turning passion into profession, but that seemed out of reach. However, given Mike’s history as a serial entrepreneur, this “nano” idea seemed worthy of at least exploring—was it really a viable business? Was working in the beer business rewarding as it seemed? Would his wife even let him?
As it turns out, the building was zoned properly for a brewery (Industrial-Light in our case) and the size was right. After searching and researching for information on “how to build a nano,” Mike’s frustration in finding no singular source led him to write the Hess Brewing Odyssey, a chronicle of our start up process, while also detailing the steps needed to open a similar operation.
In July of 2010, after 8 months of hard work, including building the brewhouse from scratch with the help of his brother, sourcing a cold box from a liquidator in Phoenix and tapping the art and branding skills of Court Patton, a friend and fellow craft beer lover, the Mike Hess Brewing brand was born and opened to the public.
Opening day was a huge success – so much so that we closed for the next two weeks to replenish! Brewing on a 1.6 bbl system, we brewed a whopping 14 barrels (28 kegs worth) in our first quarter. Demand increased, so did production, and we’ve never caught up, despite brewing 90 barrels a quarter on that same system, adding fermenters and a bright beer tank along the way and doubling up our footprint to 1,600 ft².
Originally staffed with a rotating crew of volunteers, many of those have now bought into our expansion and/or are on the team, including Frank and Neal in production and Tim in photography.
Mike Hess Brewing now employs 10 full-time and 8 part-time employees and is always looking for enthusiastic, friendly, reliable and beer-centric people to add to its staff.