Before they established their Grover Beach microbrewery ManRock in 2011, Mike and Deshia Hiebner already had a loyal following of local friends and family who enjoyed their beer.
The Hiebners, who live in Nipomo, had been brewing beer for weddings and parties.
Their product was such a hit that people encouraged them to make a living out of it.
“We started brewing out of our garage,” Mike Hiebner said. “People liked it so much, they really supported and encouraged us to start a business. Ten years ago, we thought of opening a bar. Now, here we are doing commercial brewing.”
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Deshia, a former accountant, and Mike, a former retail store manager, decided to go all-in on the investment.
In the short time that they’ve operated, they’ve grown the business from a cramped operation and tasting facility seating 35 people on Oak Park Boulevard to a larger location on El Camino Real, with a seating capacity of 162.
Customers pay $10 for tastings of five beers, or pay $5 for individual beers. ManRock is open seven days per week.
The Hiebners have a five-barrel brew system with six fermenters. They’re capable of producing 31 gallons of beer per barrel. Production rates fluctuate, but on average they produce 8 to 10 brews per month, and they’re hoping to double their output.
Their beer choices come with colorful names — “Fear the Reaper,” “Reaper-cussion,” “Oblivion” and “Apocalyptic.”
“Bree Unleashed” comes from their boxer dog named Bree, who roams the tasting room and greets customers.
The name ManRock comes from a large rock along Highway 1 in the Pacific Valley near Big Sur.
Mike’s great-grandfather, Henry Mansfield, owned property near Gorda. The nearby Mansfield Rock received the family name.
Mike’s father hung a sickle prominently in the family garage when Mike was growing up, and from it the reaper labels were born.
The Hiebners’ children — 22-year-old Paige and 19-year-old Blake — help with the operation by brewing, serving, cleaning and providing all-important customer interaction.
“That’s the fun part,” Deshia said. “People don’t see the six hours of work we put in before they come in, but for us it’s a chance to unwind and chat with people. So many of them are regulars who we have gotten to know really well.”
Keeping a brewery thriving and successful is a nonstop endeavor, and the Hiebners dedicate 12 to 14 hours per day to running the business.
The brewery is housed within view of the tasting room, and the aromas spread throughout the room.
The Hiebners are active sponsoring youth sports in the South County community. They also give a local brewing tour in April, taking about 20 people at a time to breweries across the Central Coast.
“Brewing is a competitive business,” Deshia said. “But the nice thing is we send customers each other’s way. We’ll get people from places like San Diego wanting to hit up the local breweries, and we’ll tell them where to go.”