Hess Brewing

Mike Hess Brewing Solis IPA Night 5/19!

We’re super stoked that Mike Hess Brewing is next up in our “Get to Know a Brewery” Series.

We’re super stoked that Mike Hess Brewing is next up in our “Get to Know a Brewery” Series.

Why are we so excited?

To answer, we need to go back to 2011. When Doug Ritz, Wheat & Water’s operating manager, managed a pizza place in North Park called URBN.

“There was a buzz about a ‘nano-brewery’ based in Miramar called Hess. Small batches—netting only 4 or so kegs” said Doug. “So, our bar manager asked if they’d participate in a San Diego Beer Week event.”

“In the afternoon before the event, I came to realize that Hess had such a loyal fan base,” said Doug. “People lined up before we tapped the kegs—patiently waiting for some beers only available at the tasting room.”


And that, as they say, was the start of a beautiful friendship. First, Hess was looking to barrel-age their Ex Umbris Rye Imperial Stout, and by random chance, Doug and the team at URBN had recently procured a barrel of Elmer T. Lee whiskey. That barrel made it's way up the 15 to Hess, and the resulting stout made its way into 600 bottles of the well-received Torulus.

More whiskey was purchased, and that barrel also found a new home at Hess. To reciprocate the favor, Hess fulfilled Doug’s request to brew his favorite beer style at the time, and Validus American Strong Ale became the restaurant’s two-year anniversary ale.

When it came time for Hess to expand, they chose North Park in a space right behind URBN. Three more whiskey barrels were rolled across the parking lot, The first beer brewed at Hess’ North Park location, Brunus Robustus Robust Porter, would be barrel-aged for Hess’ one-year anniversary in North Park.

In the years that followed, Mike Hess Brewing continued to make a name for themselves with their award-winning Claritis Kolsch, 8 West Orange Honey Wheat, Habitus Rye-IPA—we could go on and on here—and their distinctive “Open Mike” cans. But, they remember their roots as a home brewing hobbyist side hustle and support small local businesses like Wheat & Water.

They’ve been supporters of Wheat & Water—even before we opened. When Wheat & Water was still under construction late last summer, Doug sat down with Head Brewer Jason Stockberger to brew Solis 58—an approachable IPA with a focus on hops with citrus notes and a large amount of malted wheat. (Get it? Wheat & Water.) But like all the Solis IPA batches, the demand was high, and that batch had come and gone before Wheat & Water could have it on tap. Now six months since opening and with a couple beer events under their belt, Wheat & Water knew Mike Hess Brewing was our next featured brewer. Come in and taste what we’ve got on tap—kegs get tapped at 6pm! (Come in early and get a Hess logo “can” glass.)

The Line Up

8 West Orange Honey Wheat

  • Named for the highway to the sun-kissed Pacific shores of San Diego, 8 West is brewed with local orange peel and more than two pounds per barrel of pure California orange-blossom honey, resulting in a smooth, crisp taste that embodies America’s Finest City.
  • 6.0% ABV | 24 IBU

Batches 68-70 of Solis West Coast IPA

  • Like a new sunset every evening, each batch of Solis (sunset/west coast) is unique—a new and interesting combination of malt and hops. This bone-dry, hop-forward, dynamic San Diego–style IPA allows us to keep our creative juices flowing and your mouth watering.
  • 7.5% ABV | 75 IBU
  • Batch 68 with Lemondrop, Cascade, Eureka and Nugget hops
  • Batch 69 with Citra, Mosaic and Comet Hops
  • Batch 70 with Nugget, Amarillo and Mandarina Bavaria
  • Grapefruit Solis with Nugget, Cascade and Citra hops with grapefruit juice and zest

Into the Sunset Blood Orange IPA

  • Based on award-winning Solis batch 44.
  • Nugget, Centennial, Simcoe and Citra Hops with blood orange juice and zest
  • Available at select locations and brewed specifically for the upcoming San Diego County Fair and San Diego International Beer Fest
  • 7.5% ABV | 75 IBU

Open Mike Night at Your House

I (Doug) love Hess Brewing. Perhaps I'm partial. (Doug is definitely partial.) They make great beer, they have a pretty rad team, and their beer comes in 16oz cans at my local corner store. Hess Brewing first came to my attention during beer week of 2011. Our beverage director befriended the Hess sales rep, Michael Skubic, and we agree to host a Hess Flight Night. At the time, Hess referred to itself as San Diego's only "nano brewery," which was in reference to only having a 2 barrel system. (That's only 4 kegs per batch.)

Hess's newer location in North Park has it's own tasting room and brews 30 barrels at a time. That means a lot more beer and a lot of fun new recipes. Remember those empty Elmer T. Lee bourbon barrels? They made their way to Hess to make Torulus (a Barrel-Aged Ex Umbris Russian Imperial Stout) and a Barrel-Aged Brunus Robustus Porter. (The Brunus Robustus was the first to be brewed in North Park, and the barrel-aged version was released to mark the 1-year anniversary of the North Park location. Really cool!) Being that I sent some free barrels, I decided to put in a few requests. I pitched a Strong Ale, which later became Validus (also a barrel-aged experiment), and a West Coast IPA, which I believe became a batch of Solis Occasus.

Just recently, Ted and I met with Greg Hess at the Hess tasting room in North Park. I hope to build upon our friendship and continue a great working relationship with Wheat & Water. While Ted and I work on getting the restaurant open, check out these new "Open Mike" cans from Hess. (Video on San Diego CW6: Getting Crafty with Cans.) The whole top comes off, so it's as if you are enjoying a pint at one of their tasting rooms. Or better yet, check out their tasting rooms - Mike Hess Brewing Locations.

On a side note, Michael Skubic left Hess soon after. He opened Old Harbor Distilling in 2014, so he's definitely doing alright. (We'll have more on Michael and Old Harbor on a future blog.)