Mike Hess Brewing will be sliding into the former Alpine Beer Company Outpost in early March, with food and brew on tap at its first East County location.
Chief Brewing Officer and owner Mike Hess said the award-winning brand, which began with a tasting room in Miramar and has grown to locations in Ocean Beach, Imperial Beach, North Park and others “already has plenty of waterfront spots” but this new location is specifically intended for active East County families.
“I have lived all over, lived in East County in Lakeside, used to race mountain bikes off Anderson Truck Trail and what’s exciting is now we can bring this to hikers and mountain bikers. As a brand, we have cans in addition to bottles, which is a little different from many brewers. That means people can go on a hike into the backcountry and bring cans that get crushed into a backpack and later recycled,” Hess said.
He is excited for the large patio at the upcoming location, touts the beauty of warm East County weather and options for year-round, outside dining. The brewing company received attention for continuing to serve customers outside in a ‘peaceful protest’ while most businesses followed government mandates against any form of in-person dining during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“People can be adults and make their own decisions,” Hess said— rather than slow business down, the company instead pivoted to brewing hand sanitizer in Spring 2020. Additionally, the owner says he brought almost all his temporarily-furloughed staff back to work as soon as it was feasible to do so.
Hess anticipates a smooth transition at the new Alpine location so staff who currently work there will transition to working as Mike Hess Brewing employees. Hopefully, he said, the new location will grow to be part of the community, picking up and improving on the current brew spot.
Currently, the company is “very active in local philanthropy” and holds a fundraiser for a chosen non-profit organization each month.
“Last month was Camp No Limits, a group that works with children who have limb difference, this month is focusing on preventing sex trafficking. We do an event every year for the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation and we’re also doing a pairing with Girl Scout Cookies,” Hess said.
However, in addition to extending current practices from other locales to the new Alpine location, the company is also using the forthcoming shop to test out new menu items specifically geared toward guests with food allergies which they can pair with gluten-free brew.
“We’re working on ways to improve the menu because it can’t always be pizza. My wife, Lynda, has food allergies and we’re going to bring in allergyfriendly items for people who are gluten or dairy intolerant including kids menus,” which shouldn’t just be macaroni-andcheese, Hess said.
The new location is also intended to be extremely welcoming to families, a holdover from when his family opened their first tasting room in Miramar back in 2010. Ideally, Hess said, he’d like the new location to grow into one where families can “come hang out together”, including four-legged family members.
“We’re definitely family and pet friendly— we have four dogs, one is a service dog for our daughter who is a cancer survivor and the other three are pets. Our kids were about seven, five and two when we first started and it would not have been any fun if we could not bring our kids to work,” Hess said.
Although those young children are older now, family, he said, is always going to be part of the company’s culture.
The new Mike Hess location will open at 1347 Tavern Road in early March.