Since its grand opening less than two months ago, Bay City Brewing Co. has grabbed the attention of beer aficionados with its concise rollout of eight different brews. It is the second brewery and tasting room to emerge along this industrial loop, which also marks the birthplace of Modern Times Beer on nearby Greenwood Street.
Chris West is Bay City’s head brewer. He hails from Monkey Paw Brewing in the East Village, where he worked as assistant brewer for a year and a half.
“It was an awesome learning experience, and we were able to be creative,” he says.
With the support of three other business partners, West decided it was time to launch his own operation. In doing so, he left behind a bartending job as well at Sessions Public in Point Loma.
When a Realtor informed one of his partners the 4,200-square-foot facility was available, including an additional 1,200 square feet of patio space that came with it, the team jumped at the opportunity.
“We wanted a central location close to the beach because that’s where we all live. It was an aligning of the stars,” he says.
Befriending chemical engineer Aaron Williams along the way was also advantageous. West met Williams while hanging out at Coronado Brewing Co., when Williams was establishing that company’s quality control lab.
As a co-owner of Bay City, the UCSD grad oversees the growing of bacteria that West uses in the beers, sparing him the time and cost of purchasing it from yeast companies.
“For our Sour Wheat, we used a strong, selective bacteria, which gives the beer its unique lemon and pineapple flavors,” says West. “We’re very pleased with the outcome.”
Leading the pack in sales, however, is Bay City’s Session IPA, crafted with Chinook and Equinox hops and lauded for its citrus, grassy notes. West plans on creating a cucumber-basil version of it for an upcoming second production.
The menu also includes a sturdy American Stout, an orange-hued Vienna Lager boasting a bread-and-honey finish, a Sour Brown and the semi-fruity Experimental Pale Ale, made with Nelson hops from New Zealand.
“The Pale Ale was the first beer to be made on our system,” says West, adding that he’s yet to come up with imaginative names for his beers.
In its short life, the brewery has already distributed kegs to a few local establishments, such as Sessions Public, the 3rd Corner in Ocean Beach and San Diego Beerworks in Solana Beach.
“The biggest challenge is that we’re in a city with more than 100 breweries. So getting our product on tap handles at more places will take time because we’re the new kids on the block,” he adds.
With a capacity to produce 2,500 barrels annually, West hopes to start packaging the beers next year for store retailers. To date, he has produced 220 barrels while sourcing the majority of his hops from Washington State.
The tasting room, open seven days a week, greets patrons with looming tanks and a spacious L-shaped bar mantled in bleached Douglas fir. West assures that more interior design work is on the drawing board.
Beers are sold in pints, flights and growlers, and food is available on the patio on Fridays and Saturdays from trucks and catering companies.
Bay City Brewing Co.
3760 Hancock St., Suite A (Midway District)
Hours: Noon to 10 p.m., daily