Interview with a Brewmaster: Mike Hess

Happiness, heroes, and superpowers

Mike Hess
Mike Hess — Rick Nocon

Brewmasters are the new celebrities of San Diego, making appearances at county-wide events, beer festivals, pairing dinners and chef showdowns. We see these guys and gals from a distance, we drink their delicious beers, but we don’t know much about who they are. What do they think? What do they believe?

My new series, “Interview with a Brewmaster,” isn’t the same old beer-centric article – you’ve read those a million times. “Interview with a Brewmaster” – inspired by Vanity Fair magazine’s “Proust Questionnaire” – gets to the heart of our beloved brewers, with questions not just about beer, but about life itself. I hope you enjoy getting to know your local brewmasters as much I love seeing their reactions and hearing their responses in person.

Mike Hess began his eponymous brewery in Miramar in 2010, and now is the proud owner of a stunning brewery and tasting room in North Park, opened in August 2013. With six flagship beers, and numerous seasonal and limited specialties, Mike Hess Brewing is celebrated as one of the highest-quality breweries in San Diego. My favorites? Habitus Rye IPA, which just took gold at the 2014 World Beer Cup, and Umbrix Rye Imperial Stout.

Mike Hess Brewing Rick Nocon

How old were you when you took your first drink?

MH: I was around 10 when I took a sip, but I didn’t drink until 18, in college. (Smiles) I was a good kid.

When did you brew your first beer?

MH: 27

What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?

MH: I had a financial services practice before Hess Brewing. I would still be doing that.

Who is your hero?

MH: My wife. She is the director of operations, and with kids, she is able to balance it all.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

MH: Foretelling the future. Being able to see even an hour from now would be nice.

What is your idea of happiness?

MH: Success. But measured by my family and the business, in that order. Being a good dad and running a successful company.

What makes you smile or laugh?

MH: Sarcasm and wit. Seeing my kids pick up on my wife’s and my sense of humor and using it in dialogue. That makes me laugh.

Favorite vacation spot?

MH: Park City, Utah. But, I’d like to move to Vail.

How would you like to be remembered?

MH: For the hard work I put into making this business. But I want my kids to look back and feel I spent enough time with them. I’m hoping we get to that point soon.

What is your personal mantra?

MH: Do it right.

If you could invite three people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be?

MH: Christ, the Apostle Paul, and Abraham Lincoln

Your last meal on Earth?

MH: Porterhouse steak, medium rare, grilled asparagus, and a Habitus IPA.

With 15 years in the restaurant and beverage industry and more than 700 reviews under her belt, Laurie Delk is a one-stop guide to all things craft beer, wine and spirits. You can follow Delk on Twitter @100beers30days or Instagram @sandiegobeer. Send ideas for featured drinks to



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