Each day is a lot like the previous one, just with a change of scenery, for Cosimo Sorrentino, one of the head brewers at Monkey Paw and the brand-spanking-new brewery outfit South Park Brewing Co. He's one of the only brewers in San Diego to be at two places that both have a large output and constant high demand.
Even with a few grey hairs among long, dark, curly locks, Sorrentino has a calm demeanor and doesn't let the double duty get to him. In fact, he relishes in the difference of the two places: Monkey Paw with its urban origins, loyal following and sticking-to-classics approach with a five-barrel system; and up-and-comer South Park, with its large space and family-friendliness and a slightly smaller three-barrel system. The beer is top-notch at both, it just depends on what mood strikes.
Sorrentino, a San Diego native, realized it was the brewer's life for him after a stint in higher education in his late 20s.
"I got out of college and needed to decide what I was going to do, so I chose brewing," he says. What sealed the deal was a particular day at Newport Pizza, drinking a Consecration from Russian River Brewing Company. The beer is a sour dark ale, aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels.
"It was the nuance and complexity," Sorrentino says about that fateful encounter.
Now more than five years into brewing, Sorrentino is able to experiment with nuance and complexity on his own craft beers. When asked his favorite, he defers to a word: refreshing. And SPBC's saison would definitely fall under that descriptor. He acknowledges that IPAs are still king around these parts ("It's kind of a part of San Diego beer history") and is looking forward to developing a larger yield for some of the favorites.
Upcoming production includes bottling several of SPBC's brews into growlers and bringing back more taps to Monkey Paw, which have decreased lately because Sorrentino isn't able to brew enough for the demand at both locations fast enough. He recently started working with another brewer to help solve the problem. Sorrentino starts his brewing days at 6 a.m. and doesn't let up until mid-afternoon. After brewing, it's either off to a tasting event or settling in for the night. Sometimes, though, he hangs out at SPBC just as he finishes brewing for the day and patrons start coming in. A family will take a seat near the fermenters, and for Sorrentino, it adds another minute of joy to his day.
"I like the open experience," he says of SPBC. "People can come in and get hop steam right in their faces."