As may be apparent to anyone who's driven Interstate 8 west of the 5 lately, Bay City Brewing Co. officially opened for business on August 18. The brewery operates with a 700 sq. ft. tasting room and 1500 sq. ft. patio located next to the freeway as it crosses the Midway District, with a large sign easily visible to passing traffic.
The brewery's a partnership between a pair of Point Loma residents, Benjamin Dubois and Alex Kagan, and longtime Mcgregor's Gill & Alehouse owner Greg Anderson. Dubois, a surgeon, says he's carried around the idea to get into the beer business since finishing med school back in 1998. He and Kagan met as neighbors and have been kicking around the idea over beers for the past five or six years.
"I had two prerequisites," he says. "One was we find a great location in Point Loma, and we found it. The second thing was find a really great brewer, and we found him."
That brewer is Chris West, who was previously working as a brewer at Monkey Paw and bartending at Sessions Public, where he met regulars Kagan and Dubois a couple years back. "They found the location and ran into me in a very short time span," he says.
Bay City opened with 5 beers in its lineup, and while West says that number will go up to 11 or more very soon, the recipes won't necessarily remain constant. "Everything's ongoing, for the most part," he says, "Few of the beers will ever have a permanent 'this is what they are.' I like tweaking things and always trying to make something better."
That especially holds true for the first beer brewed on Bay City's system, the Experimental Pale Ale, which particularly suits West's interest in trying out different things. "I like playing with techniques or ingredients," he tells me, "or water profiles, different hops, different grains. So that beer's meant to sort of change every time and let me add some flexibility."
Manipulating San Diego tap water factors into West's brewing right along with any other ingredients and processes. He says he usually filters the water with reverse osmosis but also adjusts levels of phosphoric acid, calcium, and brewing salts, depending on a beer's recipe or his desired results. He might also add sulfate, reasoning that "Sulfate influences the bitterness, like how you perceive bitterness, so we always adjust that as well."
The results are smooth-tasting beers to suit an easygoing environment. The wide-open tasting room catches an ocean breeze, and Dubois says the flow from indoor to outdoor space already has people wanting to book private events.
"It's going to be a place to go for people from all over the county, but particularly our locals," the Point Loman says, "And that's kind of the underlying reason why I wanted to do it here, because I live here. I've lived here ten years, and I anticipate living here the rest of my life."