Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ordeum Rex

Ordeum Rex
Barley Wine
King of Barley.
This high alcohol, highly hopped barley king is a rare treat. Made with 100% barley, meaning no adjunct sugars. It is malty, hoppy and strong.  We only managed to brew 25 gallons of this beer due to its large grain bill and extended boil down. Coming in at 133 IBUs to balance the high malt bill it is a pleasant drinking experience.  Served only in our specialty 8.45 ounce tear-drop goblet.
OG 1.108 – 
11.5% ABV
133 IBUs

Monday, December 6, 2010

TapHunter Award Celebration!

Thanks to all our fans' and friends' support we managed to take second place in the first annual TapHunter SD Brewery Awards. Read more about it on WestCoaster SD.

Because of this we decided that we will be having a party this Friday the 10th from 6-8PM.

Show up early as TABE BBQ will be there at 5PM selling their AMAZING tacos.

In a show of appreciation to the other breweries that won the award alongside us we will be having three guest beers from them on tap.

Stone Smoked Porter:
53 IBUs - 5.9% ABV

Ballast Point Sculpin IPA:
70 IBUs - 7% ABV

AleSmith Grand Cru:
N/A IBUs - 10.5% ABV

More information is available here at the TapHunter Facebook Event Page or at ours.

See you there!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What's On Tap?

I know there is a lot of chatter around the interwebs and/or water cooler about what there is to drink at Hess Brewing at any given time. There have been traditionally two ways to find out. a) Call us (619 887 6453), or, 2) Come in and find out.

But now, thanks to the inspired idea from Jeff and Melanie Gordon you now have a third option:

More specifically our page on TapHunter.

So, if you find yourself thinking, "Self, I wonder if Hess has that awesome (insert your favorite Latin beer name here) on draught?", wonder no longer. Just check out TapHunter. We'll do our best to keep our tap list 100% accurate. And, if we run out or add something new to our handles we'll get it up on TapHunter minutes later.

And if that isn't crazy enough, check out this ridiculous-nutso video by TapHunter and our friends at WestCoasterSD.

Monday, October 18, 2010

OktoberHess 2010

Our 1st annual Octoberfest Party is this Saturday the 23rd from Noon-6PM.

We will have a new seasonal beer on tap!
For the Rest of Us.
Festivüs Düsseldorf Altbier: A traditional rival of the Kölsch. A top fermented ale with lager-eqsue characteristics caused by a low temperature fermentation of the region. This is a “Sticke Alt” variation which means it has a more complex flavor profile and a higher alcohol content, 6.8% ABV.

Ranchwoods All Natural BBQ will be outside the brewery with a great authentic line-up for you too!
Beer Basted Bratwurst with Sauerkraut or Onions.
Giant Pretzels with German Mustard.
Kielbasa with Sauerkraut and German Mustard.
German Potato Salad.
Black Forest Chocolate Cookies.

These will all pair great with our German-style beers and Ex Umbris should go quite nicely with the Black Forest Cookies.

And like our opening, great tunes from The Barnacles!!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Squaring Up.

Will that be Cash or Credit?

If you’re like Mike and me, the only thing you use your wallet for is to hold all your plastic cards and your driver’s license. Your pockets, otherwise, are full of your car keys, lint and maybe an odd wadded-up credit card receipt or two from lunch and the gas station…

Cash? What’s cash? Well, visitors to Hess Brewing well know that cash has been the only accepted exchange…but that’s all changed now!

We’ve been waiting patiently since June to get hooked into “the next thing” for small businesses, courtesy of Twitter’s founder, an app called Square. After signing up this summer and validating our bank account (by making a couple of small, 13 and 21 cent deposits) Square put Hess Brewing in the queue.

Works on iPad, iPhone and Android.

Fast forward 4 months…and guess what shows up!? Our very own "Square Reader". This little gizmo-jobber (technical name) or whatever you want to call it is a plastic, dice-shaped cube that plugs into our Smart Phone (Michael: iPhone, me: Android) or the tasting room’s iPad headphone jack.

Seriously, that's it. The Magic of Square.

Through the magic of the interweb thingy, information is transmitted from a credit card swipe into a signal that Square then approves, charging the user’s card. A day or two later, Square ‘squares’ up with us, transferring money into our bank account.

We should mention the killer interface that the folks at Square put into the iPad app. We have set up our iPad as a POS – a point of sale – device, which allows us to touch the picture/icon of the good purchased – taster flight, pub glass, growler, fill, etc and it tallies up the total, etc.

We have all our items for sale built into the Square POS.

Want a receipt? No problem – after you sign, using your finger on the screen of the device, enter your email address and we’ll send one to you. How slick is that?

No pen, no problem.

So, next time you’re running out to Hess Brewing to enjoy a cold one, don’t worry about running to the bank first. Come on in, and swipe away!


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Double Batch Brew Days

When Demand Outstrips Supply –
Keeping Up with the Thirst
We are having a good problem at Hess Brewing and that is that we are running through the beer faster than expected and almost faster than we can keep up . The days of single-brew days may be nearly behind us; perhaps the days of brewing just 50 gallons at a time are almost in the rear view mirror. Not saying we are going non-nano, but running out of beer is no fun. For now, the work around is DOUBLE BREW DAYS.
We had not attempted it yet on the system until recently, even though with the 4th kettle - the whirlpool tank, the system was designed to be able to do so efficiently. However, the luxurious lackadaisical days of single brews must give way to progress. And you can’t stop progress as Muriel’s dad said.

Timeline management and adherence to it would keep this day reasonable. I spent about 2 hours going over the timeline for the brewday. Extensive note taking has allowed me to know how long it takes to mill, to fill, to transfer, etc. Now the trick was to integrate the two brews such that we would be working on brew #2 while finishing up brew #1. Did it matter which came first (not the chicken or the egg, man, the Stout or the Vienna)? To my amazement, it mattered not, despite one having a 2:15 boil and the other just 70 minutes. Therefore the Stout was up first. Want to have clear head for that brew. Lots ‘o stuff going on in ole duder's head for that one...

For logging our beers on brewday, we are using a sheet from Mosher’s Radical Brewing. I’ve taken this sheet and “radically” tweaked it to be relevant for our brewery. For big picture tracking, we use our own Excel sheet to schedule the events through the brew day. At any time, we know exactly where we are in the process for each beer, to the minute.

Grazias in the Hopper

Up first, milling. Greg and I rolled in at 5 am, loaded up with Yerba-Mate tea and breakfast burritos. Having pre-measured the base and two of the specialty grains and loaded the hopper the night before - Greg flipped the ONOFF switch and started measuring out and milling the rest of the grist. I worked on filling the mash tun’s strike water and lining up the pumps and hoses.

Over the course of the next 10 hours, the ‘Will Work for Beer’ Hess Crew rolled in, rolled up their sleeves and got to work. Brenden and Tim came in, followed by Frank and Dustin. Without this crew of tireless, selfless beer lovers working together, the two-brew day couldn’t have happened. Event after event came and went – the schedule was holding true. Kettles cleaned, hoses rinsed, floors mopped. Switch over, from knocking out the Stout to lautering the Grazias happened at 1139! Arg, we were 4 minutes behind… :)

We were all stoked when we finished filling the Ex into the first fermenter. As we went to document what we had on the chalkboard, we found that batch to batch, we were right on the money – notice Greg writing directly over the previous batch’s chalkboard notes:
That looks like 50 gallons at 1.092...again!

The results of our first two-fer.

We have since done one other double batch day –on 9/29 we did our twin hybrids – the Alt and the Kolsch. With 90 minute boils, this day took about 9 hours. They both ferment out at the same temp, so they are together in our lone double GDM (glass door merchandiser), and because they will be in there for a bit together and b/c we need more beer(!), we actually did just brew a single batch of IPA today for our single GDM.

Brewday could be even faster if it weren’t for our ground water issues. Ground water in SD is now about 80, so chilling without any glycol in the brewery is a challenge. What we’ve come up with though is awesome in it’s MacGyver-ness and its effectiveness, but it adds over an hour and a half to our double day. The reason for this is that we are using our hot liquor tank as the post-chiller, therefore cannot have it employed for providing hot liquor to the top of the mash tun.

Here’s what we’re doing: After sending the wort to the WP kettle and letting it settle out for 20 minute or so, we hook up our custom March pump to the outlet of the WP. From the pump, ¾” tubing connects to the WortIn of the Therminator. Hose water provides the cooling – outlet wort temps are probably in the low 100’s at this point. From here, we run the WortOut to our convoluted copper coil that is in our HLT. We have moved the HLT onto the spot formerly occupied by the Boil Kettle. The last thing the HLT had going through it was 170* sparge water and it has been immersed in the HLT for some 3 hours. No sanitation issues here. The HLT is filled with ICE (up to covering the coil) and the wort exits the coil as chilled as in the low 50’s. (BTW - when we get around to doing a lager, no problem getting to pitch temps.) Stirring the ice in the HLT keeps the coil cold and the system is so efficient we can knock out at just over 2 gpm – 25 minutes for the whole batch from 200* to 65* no problem. We have the pump on full bore and the only valve the whole way through – the outlet on the WP kettle – is wide open. If the convoluted copper were ¾” instead of ½”, we could likely get it done quite a bit quicker.

The HLT being used as part of the cooling loop though prevents us from being able to get that second batch going as soon as we like. If we can figure out another way or the ground water gets cooler, allowing the Therminator to do all the work, I can see double days taking maybe 8 hours all in.

Meanwhile, as long as the Brew Crew shows up, and so that we can keep up with demand, I envision always brewing twofers with the addition of another double-door GDM. Or maybe a 10 bbl brewhouse with eight 20 bbl fermenters…well, someday anyway….

Saturday, August 21, 2010

It Ain't Easy Being Nano

First things first. 
A huge thanks to everyone that came out to our grand opening: The Beer Lovers. Family Wagon. The Tabe BBQ Gastro Truck. Our Friends. Our Families. All of You!!!
Packed House.
Holy Smokes.
Family Wagon.
Tabe BBQ.
On to the good news.
We are out of beer. Did I say good news? Well, it is good news that our Grand Opening was such a success. Lots and lots of beer was consumed. In fact, more beer was imbibed on August 7th than in the entire month of July. How awesome is that? However, this did put us in a bit of a predicament: we drained the tanks. Literally. Not like ‘they’re low’, or, ‘we’re almost out.’ We have ZERO Intrepidus IPA, ZERO Grazias Vienna Cream Ale, ZERO Amplus Acerba SDPA and ZERO Ex Umbris RIS. Nada, zilch.

We do have a tiny amount (~3 gallons) of Claritas Kölsch and slightly more of our seasonal, limited-release Jucundus Honey Orange Wheat (but once it’s gone, we won’t be brewing it again till next year.) With so little beer, we had to shut down our tasting room. We just do not have enough to warrant opening until we get a bit more beer back on draft. And for that... we apologize. Bad planning on our part.

On to the better news
We brewed like crazy these past 9 days. One the 9th, we brewed 51 gallons of Amplus, on the 13th we brewed 48 gallons of Ex Umbris and on the 20th 48 gallons of Intrepidus. Next week, a fresh batch of Grazias. Beer is on the way! From now on our fermentation vessels will be full at all times so that we can get you fills of your pub glass and growlers of all our beers.

Brewing Amplus with the Crew.
Ah, the perils of being nano.

Thanks again for your support, your kind words and encouragement and especially your patience. See you soon at the Hess Tasting Room!

Monday, August 9, 2010


We were on FOX 5 San Diego this morning!

Ernie, Mike, Skubic, & Heather.
Inside The Van.
Don't Touch That.
It was awesome of Heather and Ernie to come out and do a piece on us! A big thanks to everyone at FOX5 San Diego for doing this piece and I hope Raoul enjoys his Growler of Grazias!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


We are going to be having a little shindig this Saturday the 7th,
and by shindig, we mean Grand Opening!!
(kids welcome, cash only)

Schedule of Events:

Yes, we're actually having food available!

TABE BBQ (pronounced "tah-bay") will be rolling in to serve the best Asian-inspired recipes combined with a Mexican flair. Fresh ingredients. Prepared daily. Made to order. They'll stay as long as you're hungry.

This will pair nicely with Hess Brew! We'll have all 5 of our core beers on draught, including the latest incarnation of Intrepidus and a special limited offering of Jucundus, our new honey wheat ale. We're also going to have a keg of Root Beer for bonafide designated drivers and the lil' uns.

Doors open...12:10 PM
Limited Edition.
We are having custom screened shirts made for the opening! They will be available only in a very limited quantity (just 100 made). The first fifty who ask for them, get them gratis (that's Latin for free). The remaining shirts will be for sale - just $15 for this high quality American Apparel T.


Our good friends are going to play a show for us at 1:00PM; they put on a killer set. Be sure to show up in time to catch their act!

All good things must come to an end...6:00PM

You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here. But, you can come back next Wednesday as we return to our normal hours. Can't wait to see you all.

The Hess Brewing Crew

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Growlers Are Here!

136 Ounces of Awesome!
The Growlers are here! 68 ounces of Ex Umbris to the left, 68 ounces of Claritas Kölsch to the right. Stuck in the middle with you.
Rye Imperial Stout.
The growlers should last a long time. Mike has had a similar one for over a year and the rubber seal is going strong. I've also seen four year old flip-top bottles that have kept their carbonation. So long term storage is possible in a flip-top growler (assuming I fill it properly.)

The Growler itself is going to cost $20.00 and fills will be $13.00 for Claritas and Grazias, $16.00 for Intrepidus, and $20.00 for Ex Umbris and Amplus Acerba
Hess Brew To Go. 
Empty Set.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hat Poll.

If you've been by the brewery recently you will have noticed we have four hats hanging above our tap handles. We are debating which ones we will be purchasing since we need to buy about 150 of each style to get them made. We are interested in your feedback. Which style do you prefer?

Version #1.
Grey Fitted Cap with the Hess Shield on Front.

Version #2.
White Hess Logo on Brown Castro-style cap.

Version #3.
Blue and White Trucker hat with White Hess Logo.

Version #4.
Pink Visor with White Hess Logo on Front.

So let us know which you prefer and we will make it be so. We are also working on getting some shirts made, but we are still getting the designs finalized on those.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Conicalus for the Restivus

Fermentation - it's a beautiful thing, and it needs a special place to occur. In brewing, that's typically in a 60* cone bottomed stainless steel tank. But as many have noticed, or maybe not, stainless ain't cheap. A 27ish gallon s/s conical fermenter runs about a grand, and oh-by-the-way, that's less than half what we need.

Our solution, one used by some homebrewers and nanos, including Hess Brewing, is the use of Induction Tanks. These tanks, from sites like Tank-Depot and USPlastics are made of food grade resin (FDA approved), are UV resistant, lightweight, durable and best of all - yep, affordable. So far at the brewery, we have four 60 gallon induction tanks in use. I think we'll need more, but for now, as we get going on production, four seems to work.

In my research into these conicals, I found that they come in two varieties: full draining and, well, not full draining. Looking at the part number, you can tell the two apart - full draining are cleverly marked FD, for instance ours are INFD60-24. IN (induction) FD (full draining) 60 (capacity) and finally 24. The last number for us was a critical number - in this case, 24 is the diameter of the cylindrical portion of the tank.

For temperature control, we are currently using Glass Door Merchandisers, or GDMs. Both of ours are from True - we have one double door GDM and one single door. These are the same refrigerators you find when you go to your local Gas-n-Sip and grab a Monster Energy drink to go. In fact, both ours came from the local Gas-n-Sip! Each fridge is plugged into a RANCO temperature controller, allowing us precise digital control of the interior temp of the fridge. The 60-24 tanks can just fit, side by side in our double fridge with modifications I'll describe below.

I also found that there are really only two manufacturers of these tanks - Ace Rotoweld is the most widely found and essentially, everyone sells their stuff, and Norwesco. The Rotoweld tanks were closest to a true 60* cone and are fully draining, so that's what we went with. Note that none of them is actually a true 60* - some are actually mislabeled on the websites, but a close look at the technical drawing will show that they are usually less - mine are 57.5* - close enough!

Modifying for brewery use:
I worked on figuring out the fittings for a long time. With help from Chattahoochee and Breaker Brewing, we've got a system now that works like a champ.

First, the bottom dump: The tank comes with 1.5" female NPT. Because we had to cut down the stands 2" to get the clearance to fit into our GDMs, we can't dump straight down. Our connections are therefore: 1.5" MNPT/1.5" TC & 1.5" TC 90* & 1.5" TC Butterfly Valve.

The sideport racking valve was a stumbling block for the longest time and I never could find an easy, off-the-rack rotating racking arm - there's probably one out there, but I haven't found it. In the end, I bought 1/2" NPT bulkhead fittings from Tank-Depot - they sell the fittings from an outfit in City of Industry (CA). I chose these because they are the lowest profile - meaning that they protrude less inside - only about 3/8" - and outside the tank - only about an inch. They are threaded for connection on both the inside and outside of the tank. I had to forego the rotating part, but they work great for sampling the wort during fermentation and for pumping from when we move the beer into our brite tanks.

Neither Tank Depot nor Ace Rotoweld were willing to drill the cone for us, so here's how we did it (I must admit that the first time I took a drill to the cone I was a bit nervous -after that, I didn't even hesitate.)

First, I marked the cone - after brewing one batch of IPA with no racking port I had a good idea where the yeast cone would fill to. If if ever came that more yeast was generated, I could always just drop it from the bottom first. So, I chose to go right at the 1 gallon mark. I made sure that the fitting would not overlap the area where the gallon markings are, made an X and broke out the drill.

This is the only type of drill bit you should use - for this fitting, it is the 38mm hole saw. Notice it has a center drill to keep the bit from walking.

Go time:

The drill makes quick work of the resin:

The bulkhead fitting is four parts - the nut, at the top of the below photo, the outside washer slightly below it, and the parts that go inside - the threaded body and a 1/4" thick washer (that fits neatly into a collar to keep it from deforming when you tighten it down).
In order to get the fitting to poke through the cone, I used a piece of string and an old dip tube post. I put the dip tube through the hole I drilled, inverted the cone to let it drop out the lid, then threaded the inside fitting on the string and pulled the string back through the cone:

The dip tube post spans the back of the fitting and is used to tug it through the hole you just drilled.

Looking down in the cone, you can see the fitting getting ready to poke through. I'm pulling on the string to keep it tight up against the hole. That's the bottom drain below it.
Once you get the fitting so that it's poking out through the hole, it's a wrestling match to pull it through, but eventually it will:

Then, on with the washer and the nut. Only hand tight! No need for tools - also, note that the threads are left-handed.

From here we screwed a 1/2" NPT/1.5" TCX fitting in, allowing us to then hook on our racking ball valve.

The final result:

The one thing I have noticed about the cones is that the lid ring - the part that the lid threads onto (you can see if four photos up from here), doesn't seal air-tight. In a later post, I may write up how we fixed that - the only reason I would do that is if I decide that I want to push out beer with CO2, instead of pumping it.

During fermentation we are now using FermCap S. I learned the hard way that 9 gallons of head space is not enough! Also, we don't use airlocks - I just put the lid on enough to keep it from getting lifted off and let the tanks breathe CO2 out as they need. You don't need to see bubbles for fermentation to occur!

The only other modification we had to make was lowering the overall height of the stands that come with (or are ordered with) the cones. The only way to get the conicals into the GDM's is if they are already in the stand. Because of low overhead threshold we ended up cutting down the stands' legs. We took 2" out of each leg with a hack saw. To do so, we made a cut about 4" up from the bottom of the leg, then took 2" from the upper portion. To hold the legs intact, a piece of 1/2" threaded steel rod, cut down to 8" length just slips into each lower leg, then the upper half slides over the protruding rod. It's a good fit and the legs are just as sturdy as when they were a solid piece.

Pumping beer to brite tank:
Once fermentation is complete, I attach a 1.5" TC to 3/4" hose barb with hose to my bottom dump and grab about 2 liters of slurry. Then to move to the brite tank, a hose from the racking ball valve, down to the March pump, and into the bottom dump of the awaiting sanitized conical. Make sure you wait until the loop from the source cone to pump to receiving cone is solid beer before you energize the pump so that you don't oxygenate your beer. You can/should also flush the receiving cone with CO2. You should find that the transfer is easy and quick and you will notice no air in the stream of beer as you pump it over.

After a few days in our cold room, the beer is ready for kegging. We use no finings during fermentation at Hess Brewing, but we do use Super Moss in the boil kettle and a whirlpool tank to further separate out trub and other vegetable (hop) residue. 2-3 days at 38* drops the beer clear. A quick dump from the bottom (about a cup or two) purges all the remaining 'stuff'. A hose to the pump, to another hose to a Sanke coupling (with the ball check removed) and we pump-fill the kegs. We fill by weight, knowing the tare weight of our sixtels and 1/2 bbls. All our kegs are purged with CO2 before we pump over (part of the cleaning/sanitizing routine). Like when we pump to Brite, make sure you let the hose to pump to hose get filled solid with beer before you energize the pump so that you don't introduce any unnecessary O2 to your beer.

The kegs go back in the cold room, sit on 40 pounds of pressure for about a day (or you can rock and roll) and are ready to serve.

Edit, as of 4/26/2011

The bulkhead fitting I use is this part number from TankDepot: FAA050PB

We are moving to the INFD110-30 tanks. Since these do not fit inside our GDMs, we built a cold-room for fermenting in. With a window A/C unit set in it, I can keep the room at ~62* and ferment all our ales at that temp.

Those big fermenters are up on casters - McMaster-Carr p/n 2460T85