Much as we like to complain about all the inane puns that permeate the beer world, stupid plays around the word “hop” for the most part, if you were naming your brewery in a way that set you up for success, would you name it after yourself? “Jay Hinman Brewing”? I don’t think so. I’d go with “Hop Diggity Dog Beer Co.” before boring my audience to death and forcing them to look at my birth name on glassware, bottles & signage. Not Mike Hess of San Diego, California. And just look at him - his MIKE HESS BREWING appears to be one of the most successful and highly-regarded of the many outstanding San Diego brewers.
I was just down there after Xmas and I picked up the free beer newspaper there - the West Coaster, they call it. Jesus H. Christ are there a lot of new brewers down there (!). That town finally has something, besides its amazing weather and beaches, that truly sets it apart from LA and even my hometown of San Francisco. I went to lunch with some family in Mission Beach, and we were kitty-corner from a Mike Hess Brewing taproom (not the main one, but an outpost!) - so I walked in and bought a couple of bottles to throw into the suitcase. Why, one of them is reviewed here!
MIKE HESS BREWING - “SOLIS OCCASUS” - No, not this one, ya knucklehead. This is the one pictured below. I had this in Singapore a few months ago. Where else, right?? It was on draft at Singapore’s Tap Craft Beer Bar, which may very well have been teleported in from Ocean Beach for all the west coast beers they had on draft. This chalky IPA has a good piney tang to it, with pineapple and a general "tropical"-ness to it. Certainly not a big wet kiss of an IPA, it's dry and vert drinkable. 7.5/10.
MIKE HESS BREWING - "MAGNA CURCURBITA" - This is a seasonal, a pumpkin stout that I totally fell for. The pumpkin itself is nice and creamy-tasting, kind of in the background of what is otherwise a toasty, smooth, dark and malty ale. There's a bit of creeping cinnamon as well, maybe even a little nutmeg action. What a hoot! This is now on the winter seasonal must-buy list for those of us at Beer Samizdat. 8/10.
Apparently Hess started this place off as a nanobrewery back in 2010, so he's rocking six years under his belt now - a true San Diego grande dame. I bought another bottle, an old ale with a funny name, and I'm thinking about giving that the old one-two this evening. I'll let ya know how it goes.