When it comes to local personalities, few were as ingrained in the multi-tiered fabric of San Diego’s beer scene as Derek Gallanosa. After years spent at Karl Strauss Brewing Company, he went on to be the opening head brewer for Rancho Bernardo’s Abnormal Beer Company, while at the same time serving as an instructor for the marketing component of San Diego State University’s Business of Craft Beer certificate program. On top of all that, he was a constant fixture among beer geeks, coordinating and participating in epic bottle-share events throughout the county. Everyone knew this omnipresent fermentation fixture, which made it all the more surprising in August when he announced his resignation from Abnormal and SDSU along with plans to leave San Diego. Since then, he’s been traveling while awaiting the moment when he would be contractually able to announce plans for his future. Today is that day. Gallanosa has taken up residence in the Sacramento area to helm operations for start-up business, Moksa Brewing Company.
Located at 5860 Pacific Street in the city of Rocklin, directly northeast of Sacramento, the brewery-to-be is named for a Hindu term referring to finding one’s freedom. Gallanosa says this describes his and his partners’ intentions from a brewing perspective. They intend to break away from the norm and create their own path, exploring how to further express familiar flavors found in beer, while also striving to discover new taste sensations to showcase via ales and lagers. They will do that from a 4,960-square-foot former car dealership, roughly 1,100 square feet of which will be used for the brewery. Moksa’s 100% steam-heated 10-barrel Premier Stainless brewhouse will be fully visible through a glass wall; a setup Gallanosa refers to as a “brewquarium” like he worked within at Abnormal. Moksa’s cellar will consist of two 30-barrel, three 20-barrel and two 10-barrel uni-tanks plus a pair of brites.
Moksa has also brought on brewer Cory Meyer from popular Sacramento interest New Glory Craft Brewery. He and Gallanosa will put their heads together to determine what styles they will brew. So far they know they will craft India pale ales similar to the mixture of West-Coast and hazy IPAs Gallanosa made at Abnormal. Rich stouts with adjuncts will also figure in along with barrel-aged imperial stouts, but the sky is the limit outside of those staples. The current estimate for Moksa’s debut is December of January. Total 2018 production figures to come in around 1,000 barrels, but once everything is maximized, the business should be able to churn out 2,500 barrels of beer annually.
Yes, it is a good opportunity with the benefit of partial ownership, but what could inspire a brewer synonymous with San Diego to pull up stakes for unfamiliar territory? Love, it turns out, was his primary motivator. Gallanosa’s fiancé landed a dream job to be a State-employed archaeologist based in the Sacramento area. Upon learning this, he contacted some people he knew up north and was made aware of the Moksa project and its team’s need for a brewer. The rest is history. Even with all of the pieces falling in what would appear to be perfect placement, Gallanosa says he will miss working with the talented team at Abnormal and the restaurant that houses it, The Cork and Craft. But he is bullish about Sacramento’s burgeoning craft-beer scene (having visited the region four times in the past two years, I can attest that it is growing and an exciting place to be for beer enthusiasts) and happy to become a part of it.
There are movers and shakers in the local beer-brewing and beer-drinking subculture. Then there is Derek Gallanosa, a BMOC among both factions who, while coming up in the industry with Karl Strauss Brewing before leaving to open and head brewing operations at Rancho Bernardo’s Abnormal Beer Company, maintained his recreational fanatic status via beer trading, tourism and bottle shares. On top of that, he has spent the past three years as an instructor in San Diego State University’s Business of Craft Beer certificate program. Few are the craft-inclined in San Diego who don’t know of him, making his announcement earlier this week that he’ll be moving away to pursue a new brewery project all the more surprising. We sat down to ask him about it and found out the opportunity he’s pursuing is as exciting as it is bittersweet.
What is most exciting about taking on a new endeavor?
Starting fresh with a new lineup of beers and new customers. It’s going to be a learning process just like any new chapter of your life but I feel I have the experiences to succeed in most situations.
What are you able to share about your next chapter?
The name of the brewery will be released in the near future but it will be somewhere in Northern California. I will be a partner in the business, and we will have a big focus on direct-to-customer sales with a lot of can and bottle releases. Just like Abnormal, I will continue to innovate, learn and grow as a brewer. There is no “brewmaster” here, just someone who wants to spend a lifetime knowing more than he did the day before.
Will you continue to collaborate as you did at Abnormal?
The collaborations will continue and will be a part of our marketing strategy. There is so much knowledge to share and so much to gain through collaborating with other breweries. I am excited to continue the friendships I have gained during my time at Abnormal and hope to expand my network with even more like-minded craftsmen.
What is your transition plan?
I am confident Abnormal will continue on without any change in quality. We have a talented team in place and I will spend the next month unloading everything I have learned in the past two-and-a-half years running the brewery. We are a dynamic company and will always try to push the limits our creativity, so my job is to set them up for success as they continue to be a big player in the craft-beer scene.
Do you think the brewing style will remain the same at Abnormal?
Abnormal has always been about keeping a few core beers [perpetually] on tap while having a bunch of specialty one-offs fill up the rest of the in house tap list. I see that still being the case moving forward, same core beers and a few other specialties that cater to the demand of our customers.
Who will be taking over brewing at Abnormal?
The new head brewer for Abnormal will be Nyle Molina as of October 1. The knowledge and experience he has gained from previously working at Green Flash Brewing and Funky Buddha Brewery was the reason we brought him into the Abnormal family. In the few weeks he has been here, he has shown great work ethic and a passion to produce quality products. With that being said, we are now looking for a new brewer to fill his role so send those résumés to email@example.com.
What is the hardest part about leaving Abnormal?
All the people that I work with that have been so supportive of the beer coming out of the brewery, the fact that I have an awesome restaurant I can order lunch from every day, the beer dinners, the camaraderie of the San Diego brewing scene, the drinking community that I love to geek out with, and all that beer I’m leaving in oak barrels for the next guy will be things I will miss. But the most important thing I will miss by moving away are the friends and family that I love who have supported me along my personal and professional journeys.
Any parting words for the San Diego beer community?
Thank you to all the fans of our beer from San Diego and beyond. A lot of people ask me what it’s like to live a dream. I’ve been responding with, “I don’t know,” because right now I feel like I have been living beyond a dream. It’s too much to comprehend. The people who choose to spend their hard-earned money on our beer or take the time, money and effort to listen to me lecture in my Marketing Craft Beer class at SDSU are the ones whose hands I would love to shake in the next month. So once again, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!
In less than two years, The Cork and Craft has established itself as one of inland North County’s best restaurants. The food and ambience are enough that it would be a draw even without its onsite winery and brewery. Those amenities—particularly Abnormal Beer Company—are tremendous value-addeds, particularly when their wares are incorporated into special pairing dinners featuring guest chefs, vintners and breweries.
C&C opened with adventurous chef Phillip Esteban at the helm. He made such a name for himself, both in RB and at the many offsite events he participated in—that he was hired away by powerhouse bar-and-restaurant entity Consortium Holdings to serve as its culinary research-and-development mastermind. His departure left big clogs to fill at C&C, but current executive chef Scott Cannon has been on the job for three months and is turning out solid cuisine that might even be better suited for the tastes of RB denizens.
Dishes remain intelligent, but are a bit easier for the average diner to get their head around. They’re less fussy but just as flavorful. And in some cases, even more flavorful. A prime example is a seemingly simple salad of raw and grilled endive. It’s the only first-course greenery I’ve felt deserving of must-try status, but it’s perfection on a plate. Spiced pecans bring in a gingerbread-like flavor segueing beautifully with the sweetness of cider-like vanilla-poached pears complement and Moody Blue goat cheese contrasts. On the opposite end of the spectrum is a breakfast-for-dinner starter, seared foie gras over French toast with a fried quail egg and nasturtium. The toast is golden and not the least bit soggy while the edible flowers serve a purpose by lending a touch of balancing bitterness.
A Colorado lamb entrée features nicely cooked chops, but the star of the plate are tender agnolotti stuffed with tender braised shoulder-meat. It’s an edible education in what al dente pasta should feel like. Other dishes like a Hamachi crudo appetizer served with a shishito pepper relish as well as scallops with meaty king trumpet mushrooms (and, oddly, more shishito peppers) lack the wow-factor of the previously mentioned recipes in Cannon’s current canon, but they’re in keeping with fare offered at C&C from day one.
Back on the beer-front, Abnormal is set to release its first two canned beers at a release-party this Saturday, March 18 starting at 11 a.m. at C&C. Both of those aluminum-clad brews are hazy (AKA: New England-style or Vermont-style) India pale ales. The first is New Money IPA, a juicy, 7% alcohol-by-volume (ABV) offering massively dry-hopped with Amarillo and Simcoe, followed by its industrial-strength cousin, Turbidity, an 8.5% ABV double IPA brewed with Mosaic and Idaho 7, that pours thicker than the average hop-bomb. Both beers will be sold in four-packs and dishes from the restaurant’s bar-menu will be available.
You may not have heard of Kyle Harrop, but plenty of brewers in San Diego and beyond are familiar with him. A fervent bottle-sharer and festival-goer for more than a decade, he’s made lots of industry-friends—many of whom he met before they entered the brewing game—and is preparing to make his own jump into the pro-ranks with his work-in-progress operation, Horus Aged Ales (4040 Calle Platino, Suite 120, Oceanside). Everything from brewing to barrels to blending, packaging and even the logo will be 100% him. That’s not an unfamiliar scenario in nano-rich San Diego County, but what is unique is that all of Horus’ beers will be barrel-aged.
Harrop says he has solid recipes for IPAs, but his sours and fruited beers have garnered the greatest compliments by the aforementioned industry insiders. From a consumption perspective, he finds the wares of inspirational entities Brasserie Cantillon, Funk Factory, Hill Farmstead and Side Project both delicious and fascinating. Thus, wild, Bretty and buggy brews, mixed-fermentation and spontaneously fermented brews will make up Horus’ portfolio. Those beers will be available at a tasting room in Oceanside’s Rancho Del Oro neighborhood outfitted in a “bird of prey meets Southwestern” motif featuring rustic custom tables, hawk paintings and photographs, and Mexican blankets hand-cut by Harrop’s wife. The entire facility comes in at 3,200 square feet, and provides room for next-phase additions that include puncheons and fouders.
Though his is a one-man operation, collaborations are a big part of the company-culture. Harrop recently completed brew-sessions at New Orleans’ Courtyard Brewery, Pomona’s Homage Brewing, and Rancho Bernardo’s Abnormal Beer Company. The latter yielded a Belgian-style quadrupel conceived by Harrop and head brewer Derek Gallanosa, both of whom are self-proclaimed beer-geeks who are doing well in their professional transitions, thanks in great part to relationships forged in their days as recreational connoisseurs. Harrop recalls many tasting sessions, including a standout evening in a Carlsbad Motel 6 where he, Julian Shrago and Bill Sysak tasted their way through some rare offerings. Shrago has gone on to become one of the most award-winning brewers in the country at Los Angeles’ Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, while Sysak is known the world over for his beer-knowledge and is in the process of building his own interest, Wild Barrel Brewing Company, in a site down the street from San Marcos’ The Lost Abbey. Harrop has stayed in touch with many such ambitious ale appreciators, and has future collaborations lined up with El Segundo Brewing (located in his original home-town), Monterey’s Alvarado Street Brewery, Phoenix’s Wren House Brewing, Miami’s J. Wakefield Brewing, Richmond’s The Answer Brewpub, and Great Notion Brewing in Portland, Oregon. And here at home, he’ll brew an old ale with Rip Current Brewing in San Marcos and multiple beers with a future Vista concern called White Fence Brewing.
When asked where and when beer-fans will be able to taste these collaborations, Harrop says to keep an eye out for upcoming information about an event “like nothing else the craft-beer world has seen before” at which each of the beers crafted by him and his network of allies will be available. As far as Horus’ barrel-aged stock, those will be released in 750-milliliter bottles, numbering anywhere from 150 to 650 total per-batch. Those will go on-sale online and occasionally be distributed to popular bottle-shops. Horus’ first bottled beer, a sour ale, is scheduled to debut at Bine & Vine in Normal Heights.
From the Beer Writer: In addition to writing, I am fortunate enough to be a part of the local brewing industry. It’s a special scene where the majority of its members truly champion San Diego craft-beer as a whole over our individual companies. This is aided by several trade organizations, including the California Craft Brewers Association, which holds a number of events each year to keep the ties of camaraderie that bind Golden State brewers taut and well-fortified. My favorite event is the CCBA Summit, which took place last month in Sacramento. A combination industry-conference and beer-festival, it shows beer professionals and fans alike what makes our local ales and lagers so special. On the first day of the conference, I volunteered to pour beer at a bar set-up within the Summit grounds by the San Diego Brewers Guild. We were pouring a trio of beers, including one I’m very familiar with as a Rancho Bernardo resident, Boss Pour IPA from Abnormal Beer Company. A thirst- and taste-bud-quenching, 7% alcohol-by-volume India pale ale projecting myriad hop flavors and aromas ranging from fruity to piney to wine-y, it’s a go-to for me whenever I’m visiting the brewery in closest proximity to my house…given it’s on-tap at the time. That’s not always the case, unfortunately. But just as when I was pouring samples in Sacramento, I am happy to say Boss Pour is currently pouring, and pleased to let more people in on a favorite of mine from my immediate neck of the woods.
From the Brewer: “In Southern California we like our IPAs dry, light in color and packed with hop flavor and aroma. This beer will give the people what they want. Most of the bittering is produced at the end of the boil with a heavy dose of Simcoe hops. Then the entire batch is run through our hop-back, which is loaded with whole-leaf Cascade hops, an entire pound-per-barrel. But the hop additions do not stop there. After fermentation, we dry-hop with Nelson Sauvin and Citra at 2.2 pounds-per-barrel, giving the beer a heavy, dank aroma that you can smell a few feet away.”—Derek Gallanosa, Head Brewer, Abnormal Beer Company