Head Brewer Derek Gallanosa Resigns From Abnormal Beer Co.
Just a short two years ago, a young man named Derek Gallanosa became a household name in the very competitive and saturated San Diego craft beer market. Derek was properly trained to brew beer where he learned the ropes at veteran brewery Karl Strauss years prior.
Derek quickly made a name for himself when he joined forces with Rancho Bernardo’s The Cork and Craft / Abnormal Wine Company to add a third prong to the company in the form of Abnormal Beer Company. With a very small brewhouse, Derek quickly wowed fans with San Diego style IPAS and very decadent imperial stouts and porters.
As mentioned, San Diego is one of the most competitive beer markets in the world, and with that challenge, Derek rose to the occasion with the the right marketing, branding and lots of word of mouth fanfare. While Abnormal Beer wasn’t widely distributed or packaged from the get go, there was a lot of buzz surrounding the beer thanks to the hustle of Derek.
Many will be shocked to learn that Derek has put in his resignation at Abnormal, a bold move considering he is the face of the brewery and brand. Rumors began swirling within the industry that Derek might be moving on to the next chapter of his career now that he is engaged to a lovely lady who resides up in the Sacramento area.
We caught up with Derek to ask him about this shocking news and to see what’s next.
The Full Pint: Derek Gallanosa and Abnormal Beer Co. is one and the same to many people. How hard was this decision to resign, and why did you resign?
Derek Gallanosa: It was an extremely hard decision. What we built here at Abnormal Beer Co greatly surpassed our expectations. We started the brewery with a group of first time brewery owners and a first time Head Brewer (not Brewmaster!) and two years later became the number one rated San Diego brewery on Untappd and Beer Advocate. It was a hard decision to leave but am excited for the opportunity I have ahead. I left Abnormal Beer Co to pursue a new project as Head Brewer/Partner in Northern California. I am not ready to share the complete details of the new project but can say I am truly excited for what the future will bring.
TFP: We know that Abnormal has signed on for a brewhouse expansion investment and recently started a tasting room in South Korea? Did either of these initiatives play a part it you deciding to leave?
DG: Not at all. Our expansion in both the brewery and our offsite warehouse allowed us to produce more beer as well as a greater variety of beer. We currently have 18 house beers on tap which is the most that has ever been offered at one time. Not only did we build out a massive cooler with what seems like unlimited storage for our kegs, we sectioned off an area for barrels which you’ll see in bottles really soon. In terms of South Korea, we talked for a while about spreading out our distribution across worldwide markets as a way to protect ourselves in the case one particular market fails. Diversifying our reach will take effort but will payoff in the long run. South Korea was just the first of many distribution channels we are interested in using.
TFP: Abnormal has some big shoes to fill in terms of brewing and marketing beer. Will you be assisting them in carrying on your quick but impactful legacy?
DG: The ultimate goal for me is to leave Abnormal and see no negative impact in terms of brewing quality or marketing efforts. We recently hired a team consisting of very talented members dedicated to Sales and Social Media as well as a new Brewer. I have one month before I leave and will use the time to unload everything I learned leading up to this point. I can’t speak for other brewing cities, but here in San Diego there is no hesitation to help out another brewery. Beyond brewing I teach “Marketing Craft Beer” at SDSU. I never taught a class before nor did I really have time for it, but knowing that I had another opportunity to improve my industry through my knowledge and experiences was enticing enough to take that side job. Overall, the craft brewing community is about producing great products and working together to enhance the quality of our industry day after day. I have full confidence that Abnormal Beer Co will continue to be an exciting brewery full of innovation and passion.
TFP: Part of the soul of The Cork and Craft and Abnormal Beer Co. is Chef Mike Arquines and Mostra Coffee. Will you be able to work with Mostra in your next endeavor or is that dynamic exclusive to Abnormal?
DG: Hell yeah I’m working with Mike, our friendship goes back 10 years. Not many people know this but we’ve been geeking out about combining the flavor profiles of beer and food since back in 2008 when Mike invited me to pair my homebrews with his fine dining catering gigs. Since then we’ve travelled many times together, even across the world, to experience the best beer, whiskey, coffee and food. Over the years we’ve helped each other in whatever way we could to build our crafts and share them with the world. Whether it’s working with his food or coffee the connection between us will always be there.
TFP: Many people are anticipating some of your next few bottle releases like Makaveli, Barrel Aged Big Poppa and M4. Are those still on track to happen regardless of your presense at Abnormal?
DG: Although dates are not set we have at least 7 bottles/cans scheduled to come out this year, some scheduled for after I leave. In order, we will be putting out bottles/cans of Cafe Dino, Nelson Double Double (new WC IIPA), New Money B6, Koozy Beer (New Hazy IPA), Makaveli, Pappy Barrel 1-4, BA M3, and BA All of the Lights. Barrel Aged Big Poppa will be coming out of J Wakefield early next year and M4 is scheduled to be brewed in a few weeks as a team effort here at Abnormal. I don’t see the direction changing in regards to brewing. Our following has shown us what they like so I have no reason to believe that this company will stray away from that.
TFP: What can fans of your work expect in the next chapter?
DG: Similar to Abnormal, the new project will allow me freedom to create basically whatever beer I want. I have a set of rules that I follow whenever producing new products: 1) Make beer that I like to drink and 2) Make beer other people like to drink. It’s a simple concept but how many times have we’ve seen other breweries not follow that second rule? Something that I hope to do at the new project is produce more packaged beer. Whether it be in house special releases or distributed products, more packaging means more beer in more places while putting less strain on your cooperage levels. I’ll post more details on my personal FB and IG pages as they become available but for now I’m just excited for this next chapter in my life. One thing is guaranteed, I will be working hard to produce the best beer I can possibly make.