Brewer’s Choice: Something Shiny

Head Brewer and outdoorsman extraordinaire Chris Dunstan has been innovating the craft beer industry (and every piece of brewing equipment he can get his hands on) for an entire decade. Yes, 10 solid years of brewing beer and designing more efficient ways to do so. His story starts where so many do: homebrewing.
While studying Political Science in Santa Barbara, Chris and a buddy started to (attempt to) brew together. “We never really made any good beer,” Chris laughs. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do after graduation so I thought I’d get a job at a brewery, get it out of my system, then figure out what to actually do.” This led him to North Coast Brewing in Fort Bragg, followed by a stint at Moylan’s Brewery & Restaurant in Novato. “I worked at Moylan’s for two years, serving beer, talking to customers, and I decided I wanted to get back to the production side of things,” Chris explains. In 2011, he did just that and found his way to San Leandro.
As one of our staff’s senior members, Chris has ridden the Drake’s rollercoaster as the East Bay craft beer scene booms. “I like the dynamic with the brewers here,” Chris muses. “It’s always been a good crew… It’s been a great opportunity to grow with the company. Since I’ve been here, we’ve expanded from basically one space to six buildings, a new brewhouse, new bottling line, new staff.” He’s seen it all and had his hands on just about everything too. “I was sick of using all this shitty stuff that other people built that didn’t work. You know, the guy who designed it didn’t use it so there were all kinds of little errors. But then I designed equipment myself and now I can walk around the brewery and see all these things I had a part in fixing,” Chris recounts. It’s not always glamorous; his most current achievement is the utilities rack he built for the kegging line.
After moving up the ranks to Head Brewer, Chris has designed new recipes, not just machinery. “John (Gillooly) and I, when we took over, there were some weird things in the recipes, like half bags of malt that didn’t really affect the flavor and just got in everyone’s way. We tweaked a lot around, like the Porter. We gutted and redid that recipe then got the medal at GABF,” Chris explains. That’s a pretty proud moment!
Incremental improvement all the time seems to be the name of the game. His Brewer’s Choice Series beer, Something Shiny, is based off an old recipe that Chris adapted and improved. “There was this beer we stopped brewing a while ago. I really liked it and hoped we’d go back to it and this was my chance to finally make it again and have some fun,” Chris smiles. Don’t let the word “lager” fool you; this 5.5% multi-grain brew is filled with hop spiciness and malt complexity. “It’s light and refreshing but the Vanguard hops and rye really turn it into something else,” Chris states. A self-proclaimed lover of nerd culture, Chris wasn’t sure what to name his beer. “A friend and I always joked about naming a beer ‘Something Light’ so when a guy at the bar orders something light, you’d just give it to them. I knew the name had to be ‘something’ and I love Firefly, which is where I got ‘shiny’ from,” Chris explains.
Chris’s beer debuts at our long-standing community fundraiser on 2/3, starting at 4pm. This month’s local, raucous party will benefit San Leandro High School, with live music, food trucks and delicious adult beverages. Something Shiny will also be on tap this Saturday at Hopocalypse Day for your drinking pleasure.