The team behind Point Loma’s Bay City Brewing met their first head brewer, Chris West, when he was behind the bar at downtown’s Monkey Paw Brewing, where he poured in addition to his assistant-brewer duties. They offered him a job and he carried them through their first three years, until a recent parting of ways. West’s successor is Austin Pinder, a local veteran coming to Bay City by way of Karl Strauss Brewing. We reached out to find out what we can expect from the newcomer under his regime at the sports-arena-adjacent brewery, as Bay City celebrates three years in business this Saturday.
What vocational road led you to your new gig?
My first real brewery job was working on the bottling line at the now-defunct Firehouse Brewing in Mission Valley. I stayed there for almost two years doing pretty much every job around the brewery and trying to soak up as much knowledge as I could. After they closed down in 2011, I was fortunate enough to land at Karl Strauss, and ended up staying there for seven years. I spent most of that time as a brewer, splitting time between the production brewery in Pacific Beach and various Karl brewpubs around Southern California. Over time, I was given more and more freedom to play around with beer styles and create the kind of beer that I wanted to drink. It was awesome spending all that time with the OG San Diego craft brewery and I definitely learned a lot about quality, consistency and how to navigate the business of craft beer.
What are you most excited about with your new position?
Before taking the head-brewer position, I was already a fan of Bay City, so I was excited to get in and see how I could help elevate the current beers and put a plan in place to improve quality and consistency across the board. Now that we’re in the middle of putting that plan into place, it’s very satisfying to see positive results and I’m even more excited to see where we can go from here.
What are some of the biggest challenges you foresee and how do you expect to overcome them?
The biggest challenge I see is that the craft-beer market has become so competitive. There are so many breweries in San Diego making really amazing beer right now, which is great for people like me who love drinking local product, but it can be a challenge for a brewery to find their voice in such a crowded market. One of the things I’m looking forward to most is defining that voice for Bay City and solidifying ourselves in the San Diego scene.
How will you put your personal spin on Bay City’s brewing operations?
Being able to make beer for a living is the greatest thing ever! I have fun every day I come into work and I want customers to see that we love what we do and have it show in the beer we make. Going along with that, we want to focus on quality and consistency. My personal goal at Bay City is for someone to be able to close their eyes, point to any beer on the board, and know that no matter what style of beer they land on, it’s going to be well-made and super tasty. And if they come back a few months later, that beer will be exactly how they remember it.
What do you expect your beer board to look like once you’re fully settled in?
I was born and raised in San Diego, so for me a local brewery really starts with the hoppy beers. That’s still the bar by which we are judged, so they have to be absolutely perfect. For Bay City, the goal is to have a solid stable of IPAs of various strengths (and clarity). We’ll always have a few well-made lagers, a coffee beer, and at least one sour. Beyond that, we’ll be brewing seasonally, so we’ll have some robust dark beers, some Belgian beers, Radlers in the summer, and whatever else seems right for the season.