The term "obsession" can carry negative associations. It connotes unbalanced priorities and a skewed outlook on the world. OK, guilty, but there are other apt descriptions that help characterize Derek Gallanosa's journey from home brewer to head brewer at Rancho Bernardo-based Abnormal Brewing Company.
Sometime in 2007, Gallanosa made a social call that would permanently alter the trajectory of his life. He happened upon his friend's father in the midst of a backyard brewing session and, to his surprise, found himself captivated.
"I didn't know you could do that," he says. "It struck my curiosity."
That chance encounter brought on a new set of priorities for Gallanosa. He became an avid home brewer, keen on learning and experimentation. Despite completing his marketing degree at Cal State University, San Marcos, he had little interest in pursuing anything in business outside the brewing industry.
Nine months later, he translated that passion into an assistant brewer role at Karl Strauss Brewing Company.
After four years with Karl Strauss in both brewing and sales roles, Gallanosa was offered the unique challenge of not only brewing his own recipes for Abnormal Beer Company, but also curating the beer experience for its affiliated upscale dining restaurant, The Cork & Craft. (Abnormal Beer Company is a glass-enclosed brewery housed under the same roof as a winery, beer/wine bar and restaurant.)
This aligned neatly with his desire to make "easy drinking, flavor-focused beers," that could elevate the dining experience itself.
Abnormal Beer Company has released just three beers to date, four if you count "LAbnormal Monkey," a well-received clementine-infused IPA made in collaboration with Monkey Paw Brewing Company. Though the majority of the initial offerings cater to San Diego's bottomless craving for hops, Gallanosa plans to diversify with an upcoming rye IPA and hybrid "fruited ale."
Abnormal Beer Company, and Gallanosa, are kind of like new kids on the block. Not having a lengthy pedigree hasn't stopped him from considering the next brewery and tasting room expansions.
"I feel like the future of this company is limitless," he says. "That is why we have to prepare for expanding our operations and give people more than what we are currently capable of."