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Sharp Health News

A passion fit for a surgeon

Nov. 5, 2021

Dr. Benjamin Dubois and his wife Suja

Dr. Benjamin DuBois and his wife, Suja, enjoy a cold beer at Bay City Brewing Co. in 2017, before masking and other pandemic precautions were required.

When Dr. Benjamin DuBois, an orthopedic surgeon affiliated with Sharp Grossmont Hospital, moved to San Diego from his hometown of Seattle in 2004, his mother had one question: "Ben, what will you miss?" His answer? "You, Mom. And maybe the beer."

Back then, Seattle had a bustling craft beer scene — while San Diego's was still developing. But today, that has all changed — and Dr. DuBois' love for craft beer is exactly where it belongs. "San Diego is such a great place for beer," he says. "You can find world-class brews in almost every neighborhood."

In 2015, with the help of some partners and an award-winning brewer, Dr. DuBois joined the local craft beer scene and opened Bay City Brewing Co. — close to his Point Loma home. In 2021, Bay City Brewing Company opened a second location in East Village, just blocks from the Gaslamp Quarter and Petco Park, where beer lovers can enjoy a tasting room, full kitchen and rooftop bar. “It started out as an idea,” he says, “and the more I talked about it, the more real it became.”

But managing a successful medical career and a new business isn't always easy. "People ask me what my profession was before I started the brewery," he says. "I tell them, 'I'm still in my profession. I'm a busy shoulder surgeon, who has performed over 4,000 surgeries!' To me, I get to do two things that I love. I love medicine and I love craft beer, so having the ability to do both has been amazing."

Where beer and medicine meet
Beer and medicine may seem like adversaries, but Dr. DuBois and his team find ways to use brewing to help their community. As part of the "Beer to the Rescue" campaign, they developed a coffee-infused pale ale with proceeds benefiting the Lupus Foundation. In addition, they have hosted numerous fundraisers for the Arthritis Foundation — a cause Dr. DuBois appreciates as an orthopedic surgeon.

When it comes to beer and health itself, Dr. DuBois takes a realistic approach. As a doctor, he emphasizes consumption in moderation, saying "anything in excess isn't good for you." But as a beer connoisseur, he feels beer often gets a bad rap. "In health," he says, "beer is no different from wine.

For those counting calories, he does have some suggestions for successfully navigating the craft beer world. "Lighter beers, like pilsners or lagers, usually have less alcohol," he says. "So in terms of calories, lighter is typically better. But remember, beer is like anything you consume — it's calories in, calories out. If you stick to basic math and follow a balanced diet, you can still enjoy it."

One health benefit that's rarely mentioned is the infusing of fruit, vegetables or other nutrient-packed foods. So yes, orange beer does have vitamin C, and 'tis the season for pumpkin beer's antioxidants and cancer-fighting agents. "Local breweries have a lot of great infused beers," he says, "from grapefruit to coffee to habanero. And you can definitely reap the benefits of their infused ingredients."

If there's one benefit Dr. DuBois can leave you with, it's simply to enjoy the experience. To him, beer is a culture — and we're lucky to have a vibrant one here in San Diego. "Enjoying the craft scene is about drinking great beer, but it's also about being part of something," he says. "So have fun and explore what's out there."

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