From time to time I like sitting down, grab a beer, and talk with those who are making their dream a reality and becoming a professional brewer. I took the time to talk with Preston Dolinger, homebrewer and future master brewer of Bayboro Brewing.
Backpack Social: What got you into craft beer?
Preston Dolinger: It was around 2004 when I moved to Orlando. Before craft beer I was a straight Rum & Coke guy. I was not a fan of beer at all. If I plugged my nose I could chug one if necessary. I would even go for a nice Zima before I drank a beer. My buddy Kevin introduced me to a Yuengling lager. I tried one and it was too enjoyable but it peaked my curiosity because it was amber and brown. Then another time I tried it again and then after that I was bringing six packs of it to him. That kinda opened my palette and from there I tried every kind of lager I can find.
From there I found Red Light Red Light. This isn’t the one we have today. It was off of Bennett Road in what you would consider a glorified shack with an amazing tap list. My first beer from there was a Lagunitas IPA. Clearly I thought my friends were playing a joke on me because I thought it tasted like floor cleaner. After that I tried a Mama Yella Pils. I really like that beer. At the time I was still into lighter flavors and styles.
BS: Did you start brewing like many people did with a Mr. Beer?
PD: I did actually. Around 2009 my wife bought me the Mr. Beer kit. I did a couple bathces and made some okay tasting beer. I struggled making IPAs but I really got into Belgium style beers. I found I couldn’t really make the beers I was interested in making with Mr. Beer. I would go to homebrew shops to get better yeast. I took a break for a while. I thought it was a fun hobby but at the same time I got diagnosed with gout. Once I gotten that under control I started going to an after hours bottle share with guys from work.
I was living in a small apartment so I didn’t want to really get to in depth with cracking grains and all the equipment. My friend John asked me to join him brewing one day at his place and when I realized how simple the process really was I was back at it again. At this time I know I have brewed well over 200 batches.
BS: Let’s talk about the name Bayboro. What prompted this name for the brewery?
PD: Back during World War II there was a naval facility in the Bayboro Harbor in St. Pete (currently it is part of USF). Part of St. Pete’s history during the war the hotels were filled with recruits and lots of training when on there. James, my partner, is a Marine Corp vet and with the military history we thought it would be a great tie in to our brewing.
BS: What’s the initial goal you plan to have with Bayboro?
PD: Community first. We want to build a spot where were are involved with the community and be that neighborhood brewery. We are concentrating on being that hyper local spot that people will want to be around. Supporting the local neighborhood is the key for our brewery. That’s really been my focus. I think the important thing is to ensure we provide great beer. We don’t want a so called “3 out of 5” beer. Anyone can make an average beer. We want you to be able to try any beer we brew and say “Wow that is a great beer!”.
Talking with Preston you can feel the passion for beer. And it’s not unnoticed. With the Florida Homebrewing circuit winding down Preston ranks No. 13 of over 2000 homebrewers. He has taken home 10 medals this year, five being gold. Most people would be happy with that but he plans to crack the top 10 next year.
Bayboro is still a brewery in planning. There is plenty of research and development going on. Opening a brewery is never easy. It takes time, money, and just a little bit of luck. For now, Preston is going to keep pouring their beers across Florida and the bevy of beer festivals and taking feedback.
I know that I will gladly be first in line when this place opens up. I hope you will be too!