This time out I visited Hess Brewing. I was really impressed with this nano brewery, the first of its kind licensed in San Diego. Standing in the tiny tasting area, sipping on my sampler and petting the dog of one of the other patrons, I felt as though I was in a friend's garage trying his latest batch of homebrew. The place felt "real". There was no glitz or glamour. Just a group of dedicated people doing what they love, making great beer. I was able to try each of the 8 beers in their current lineup, and was impressed with each of them. Their Claritas Kolsch really took me by surprise. I tend to like bigger beers, so at 5.8% I was expecting the light-colored brew to be uninspired. I was wrong. This little beauty was full of body and flavor. I could definitely go for a pint of that on a warm summer day. There were 2 Stouts and 2 Porters featured. These are not my favorite styles, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. I'm not sure if I puzzled, annoyed, or offended one of the brewers as I started on Fors Hiberniae Oatmeal Stout. Before sipping the dark, coffee-infused elixir I was letting my nose tell my mouth what to expect. I mentioned to my friend that I detected a hint of pepper. The brewer, working just behind us, interjected, asking what I had just said. He looked troubled, but didn't say any more. A few minutes went by when he again questioned me, asking if the aroma I had detected was peppery in a chili way or in a cracked black pepper way. I told him it was a bit of both. He looked puzzled, but said no more. I never did find out why he was so curious about my findings. Had I discovered something that no one else had? Was this batch slightly different from past batches, yielding something unexpected, even to the brewers? Could it simply be because I had a cold? Who knows. I just love the fact that they cared enough to ask me about my thoughts on the brew. Great people, brewing a great product, in a great city. What more can you ask for?