Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays from Hess Brewing!

Below I've loaded up a couple videos that should warm you up like a good holiday craft brew. So smoke 'em if you got 'em and drink your glasses to the bottom. I hope you enjoy these videos as much as I did.
Stay safe & warm and have a great holiday weekend!

Jimmy Fallon + The Roots + The Muppets Singing "12 Days of Christmas"

Special Agent Jack Bauer Interviews Suspect Smuggling Packages

"Do You Hear What I Hear?" by the Bowen Beer Bottle Band

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Complete Guide to Opening a Nanobrewery.

Here is a little list of things you need to accomplish if you feel like you wanna open up a nanobrewery of your own. I guess it is relevant for a full scale brewery too. I actually made this list for JC of Trillium Brewing, who will probably be going down the smaller scale road like us.

 Brewery Licenses/Permits/Etc:

Local /County Government:

Planing Department: this is where you gotta go to make sure you can actually open up a brewery at your desired location. If not you'll have to appeal to the government and get Conditional Use Permit.

Department of Environmental Health: If you are going to have a tasting room you'll have to deal with your local DEH. Make sure you get someone that knows what they are talking about.

State Board of Equalization: You need to have a seller's permit which is a local/county run deal.

Business License: A license to actually do business in your city.

Building Permit: If you are doing any serious construction this will be needed. Sometimes even for smaller jobs too.

State Government: 

Department of Health: if you are opening up a wholesale food processing facility, which is the category a microbrewery falls into, they will need to approve you facility.

Alcoholic Beverage Control Board: This is the basic license application. We have a type-23 microbrewery license. We have all the same rights as a type-01 license holder except the fee is considerably less.

Paperwork you'll have to file: Personal Affidavit, Additional Affidavits, Personnel Questionnaire, Corporate Questionnaire (if you are an LLC/ Corp), Diagram of Brewing Facility, Zoning Paperwork, Consideration Point (i.e. schools, churches, etc.), Residence (i.e. if you are close to non-commercial buildings), Signature Sheet (for LLC/Corp), and Tied-House Restriction Paperwork. All in all about 22 pages of paperwork.

Excise Tax Division of BOE: An excise tax permit is required as well. They require a bond as collateral.

LLC or Corporate Articles of Incorporation: Done through a lawyer and usually a yearly fee associated with this as well ($800-1000 per year)

Federal Government:

IRS Employee ID Number: This is just to keep track of your business taxes. Easy to obtain, just a few pages of paperwork. I think it can be done through their website.

Alcohol & Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau: They require a collateral bond for taxes and you need to pay taxes on every barrel of beer you produce and sell. Minimum of $1,000 bond is needed as collateral.

Paperwork you'll have to file: Brewer's Notice, Brewer's Bond, Personnel Questionnaire, Power of Attorney (for LLC/Corp.), Pay.Gov User Agreement, Environmental Information, Quarterly Excise Tax Payment Procedures Checklist, Supplimental Water Quality Information, Signing Authority (for LLC/Corp.), Legal Description of the Brewery, Description of Security, and a Diagram of the Facility.

 I hope this is insightful for anyone looking to get in the brewing game.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Logo Direction.

The older look.

This is our newest look.

As you can see we've given the logo a little bit of swagger. Some new swoops and a very fancy "E."

Let us know what you think about the logo. Questions and comments are welcome. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cold Room Set-Up

We finally got around to putting the cold room together. We got a little side tracked after finding out that we are going to have to install two more sinks in our space. Do you think it is a coincidence that the acronym for the Department of Health is D'OH!? I find it highly suspicious. Highly.

Anyways, we have to install a floor sink, so we had about six plumbers come in last week to give us estimates on how much it is going to cost to install one and it looks like it's going to be in the $1,250 to $2,700 range. The deal with a floor sink is when serving any sort of food or beverage to citizens of San Diego we need to have an air gap between the plumbing and the sewer, that way we don't get sewage backing up back into our sinks. A little something called "Backflow Prevention."

The cold room was really easy to assemble, it was like a gigantic piece of IKEA furniture. Just needed a bit of elbow grease to lug the pieces around into the correct position and a little deductive reasoning to determine where the ceiling pieces and voilà! Instant* cold room.

Here are some semi-timelapsed photos from the build out:

*Instant being about 4 hours + a 14 hour round trip to Phoenix.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Cold Room.

I used to enjoy twitter, now I am a believer. It was through twitter I came across a listing on Craigslist for a walk-in cold room for cheap. It had fourteen tap handles (probably more than we'll ever need, but extra space can't hurt) and two glass door merchandisers. Really a prefect fit for our size of operation. Thanks so much @abeeraday for the heads up! 

I called up Iron King on a Monday to begin negotiations and figure out some logistics. We would probably need to rent a 26' truck from Penske and get a car trailer for the ride back. Luckily our good friends came through and we were able to borrow a 12' trailer + a full size pick-up.
He decided to take off some extra cash since we were going to drive out there and pick it up ourselves. So we began our 14 hour journey at 5:00AM on Friday.

Here are some pictures from the journey:

5:00 AM 

Don Quixote would love this place.

Raw Power.



Rising Up from the Ashes.

7th St, 11 AM.

Almost Full.

By the hair of our chinny chin chins.

Long Distance.

Getting Dark.


I'll be sure to post picture from the build out and the completed cold room. Unfortunately it is going to take us a little long to get everything up since we just talked to the DEH on monday and it turns out we need to install a floor sink, a mop sink, and a hand washing sink. So that will put as at a total of 7 sinks in our small space. We will be sure to have clean hands and pint glasses though!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rye Imperial Stout - Experiment #1

Bottles of Rye Imperial Stout. 
Hand bottling 22 ounces of beer is a very time consuming process (even with Blichmann's BeerGun) it takes 1 minute 34 seconds to fill and cap each bottle on average. One of those $1,000,000 bottling lines is looking more and more enticing. We are probably just going to be filling kegs in the beginning anyways, so it wouldn't make too much sense. Plus, I don't have a million dollars laying around.

Appearance: Dark, almost jet black and turns a shade of coffee around the edges. It has thick, tan, bubbly head.

Aroma: Complex with a good amount of rye and hops.

Flavor: Many different flavors, standouts are dark chocolate, coffee, caramel, and toasted rye malt. Not aggressively alcoholic, but you can tell it is 7.9%ABV.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied and moderately carbonated. This beer is thick, but not syrupy.

Overall: A very big dark intense beer.

We are still designing our logo/labels and creating a REAL LIVE WEBSITE at the moment. We are meeting with Mr. Patton on Friday to discuss this in greater detail.

I've also been discussing purchasing a used cold room from Phoenix, AZ with a man ominously/awesomely named Iron King. I'll keep you all updated on that as I find out more info, but I have to imagine that Iron King looks something like this.

All 60 Stouts in the Fridge.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Whoa, Whoa, Whoa... BOE, TTB, DEH.

Glad to say we are finally getting our TTB paperwork out the door. We had to wait for our Seller's Permit to get approved, which ended up being a ridiculously tedious process thanks to some incorrect advice given by the Board of Equalization, they told us we could send the paperwork to the Sacramento Office along with our excise tax paperwork, but it turned out that the Seller's Permit is a local thing. So, that had to be transfered to the San Diego branch, which the Sacramento branch told us they did. The next day we got a "Notice to Appear" from the San Diego branch telling us they had not received our Seller's Permit paperwork. We gave them a call and explained the situation, BUT they said we would probably end up having to resubmit the paper anyways. That did not make too much sense to us, so we called the Sacramento branch confirming that our paperwork had in fact been sent to the SD branch. So the waiting game began...

We called them a couple of times, but they never seemed to get the paperwork in the mail, until one day it mysteriously appeared on a desk a few cubicles over. Huzzah! Unfortunately due to a clerical error from several years ago, the Social Security number associated with our account was incorrectly typed. So they had to send us back the paper work and we had to provide proof that our SSN was the one we provided. A couple of tax statements later we were in business. Sent it back in the mail and waited again...

We called them a couple of times, but they never seemed to get the paperwork in the mail, until one day we received our Seller's Permit in the mail. Huzzah! With our Seller's Permit finally in hand I was able to mail off both our Department of Environmental Health planning application and the application for our TTB account!

With these in the works it is really only a matter of time before we are selling some artisanal ales around here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Painted Shelves

Look at our shelves.
A big mess of unfinished wood and hastily organized grain bags, growlers, carboys, and other items... including our beloved dart board that we will need to get rid of once we are selling (we cannot have "fun" stuff in the brewery since it makes it too much like a bar.) No more pool table or shuffle board either. Just brewery related items.

I decided that it was about time to fix our organizational problems and put a nice coat of paint on the shelves as well. The first order of action was sanding. Lots of sanding and filling in holes with painter's putty. Lots of sanding.

Primed and ready for paint.

C-150 colored shelves.
Now I just need to devise a clever way to sort and store all of our grains while keeping plenty of room for other important stuff too.

Nice and Organized.
Carboys, Growlers, Malt & Specialty Grains. Now on to getting our Brewing System and Fermenters/Refrigeration Systems in a order. It's quite a difference between the first photo and this one.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Double-Blind Taste Test

One month ago I posted about our "Experimental" Brewing Session; we recently dry hopped and kegged the two different IPAs. As you may recall one used the 1450 "Denny's Favorite" yeast strain that is known for low flocculation and not being very sweet. The other used was 1968 "London ESB Ale" yeast, which has a high flocculation and tends to have a fair amount of fruitiness.

We encountered a little trouble with these brews during the fermentation process, both of them stuck at ~ 68% attenuation. We wanted to get to about 70% for both of the IPAs, we needed some yeast, stat. Luckily our friend Johnny O' from the downtown Rock Bottom Brewery was able to hook us up with a big slurry from his propagation tank. We pitched it that afternoon and we finished out at 1017 and 1018. Right where we wanted them to be.


1450: 7.20%
Aroma: Surprisingly light. Muted, esp compared to 1968.
Appearance: Dark & Cloudy Orange Amber. Light Beige Head.
Flavor: Tart. Crisp. Hoppy. Grapefruit.
Palate: Silky. Smooth & Light Carbonation.
Overall: This one has a bit of a bite. The tartness really stands out.

1968: 7.00%
Aroma: Strong scents of pine and citrus.
Appearance: Dark & Cloudy Orange Amber, clearer than 1450. Light Beige Head.
Flavor: Earthy. Full. Hoppy. Pine. Bitter.
Palate: Dry. Light Carbonation.
Overall: Mellower than the 1450, a fuller flavor. Not as sour.

It is pretty cool how much of a difference two strains of yeast will make on the exact same wort. The 1450 is quite a bit more sour than the 1968, which has more earthy mellow flavors. The difference in aroma is probably even more pronounced than the flavor. The 1968 has a strong scent while the 1450 is barely detectable.

The experiments and the taste tests continue! We'll be doing a much larger sample tasting on the 24th of this month at an event with about 30 volunteer tasters.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Really Expensive Beers

I was wondering what was the most expensive beer out there, and to be perfectly honest with you, it is not easy to find a straight answer. Even with all the powers of the internets combined! One site would list the price at $525 the other at $52, or $600 and $400. It took a lot of winding my way through these series of tubes that make up the internet until I could finally come to some sort of conclusion. Here is the list:

1. Carlsberg Jacobsen Vintage no.2 - MSRP $396.00
If you're wondering why the price difference between Vintage No.1 and 2 is only $1.00 (it's actually closer to 20 cents but I rounded up because I felt like it) it is because its actually price is 2,009 Dansk Krone. Since that is the year this barley wine was born. The No. 1 was price at 2,008 Dansk Krone for the same reason. The Vintage No.2 is a 8.7% Baltic Porter of which only 600 twelve ounce bottles are brewer per year.

2. Carlsberg Jacobsen Vintage no.1 - MSRP $395.00

I remember first learning about this beer on the Denmark episode of Three Sheets. This 10.5% Barley Wine is barrel aged for six months leaving it with a very cognac-esque taste. Each bottle of Jacobsen Vintage No. 1 is labelled with an original hand stilled lithographic print made by the Danish artist Frans Kannik (making the empty bottle worth $100) depicting Sif, the wife of Nordic god Thor.

3. Samuel Adams Utopias - MSRP $130.00

This is something. A 54 proof beer. There are hard liquors with less kick than that! At one point it was the strongest beer in the world, but has since slipped into the third place spot following Südstern XXL coming in a 27.6% and Schorschbräu Schorschbock weighing in at 31%! That is only 9% off whiskey. Personally I think the bottle alone is worth the money, look at that beauty. Production is limited at 3,000 bottles per year.

4. La Vielle Bon Secours - MSRP $795.00 / 9 = $85.00 per 24 ounce serving

This 6 liter bottle goes for £500. I could not find any explanation for why this beer costs as much as it does. It is only sold at the Bierodrome Restaurants in London. I really could not find anything on this beer, I know it's an abbey-style brewed in Belgium.

5. Tutankhamen Ale - MSRP $76.00

This beer is based on a archeological find in Egypt by the University of Cambridge. A brewery was found in a section of the Queen Nefertiti’s Temple of the Sun, which was presumably built by King Akhenaton who is King Tutankhamen’s father. From that find they were able to look at the residue on an old brew kettle and determine the ingredient list. This one remided me of Anchor Steam's Sumerian Beer Project. Where pretty much the same thing was one only instead of a 3,500 year old Egyptian temple brewery, it was based off of a 6,000 year old poem from Mesopotamia.

I did not include beers that were auctioned off for charity since that would not really be an accurate reflection of their price, if I did the winner would be a six pack of Stella Artois that went for $14,850, but was signed by various celebrities to support Wild Aid.

MSRP vs. Market Price
The question all this brings to my mind is whether those beers are worth the price of admission? The Carlsberg Jacobsen seems like it is artificially expensive since it's not too hard to find barrel-aged high gravity beers. While the Utopias seems more reasonable since it is such an unusual beer that weighs in at 27% ABV and only costs 1/8th the price per ounce of the Jacobsen. La Vielle Bon Secours seems a little gimmicky too, especially since there is really no other information available other than you can only get it at one restaurant in London. The Tutankhamen Ale just seems like a cool deal to support your local archeologists. I'd like to get my hands on the Sumerian Beer Project beer too.

I did a little sleuthing on eBay to see what the market was for unusual beers from some craft breweries. There are many "collectible" bottles for sale, they are not selling them for the liquids inside of course since that would be illegal. The highest asking price I could find was for a 4 pack of Dogfish Head for $400.00, the next closest was a Stone Vertical Epic 04-04-04 that was priced at $65. Still, it is not even close to the price people are willing to pay for wine.