Back in the day, the homebrewers I knew had pretty predictable goals: learn how to make beer, make beer, drink beer, repeat as needed. Nowadays, many of the recreational fermentation fanatics I meet are either entertaining the notion of turning their hobby into their vocation or actively pursuing that goal. Local homebrewers Greg Malone and R.J. Ward fall into that last category. A duo with nearly a decade of combined brewing experience, both on their own and as collaborators, Malone and Ward are in the very early stages of making the jump to the pro ranks. When they do, the name of their business will be Fathom Brewing Company.
Ward studied physiology, neuroscience, and biochemistry at UCSD. His scientific background and mindset have helped him to grasp the science of brewing. Meanwhile, Malone brings business and economic experience as well as more University of California education (he’s a graduate of UC Santa Barbara) to the equation. The two have been friends for ten years and have been brewing partners for nearly four. Their shared mission is to produce flavorful, high quality beer. Specifically, they hope to make a name behind “San Diego-style” beers. For them, that means bold beers that are big on hops and dare to stretch traditional style guidelines here and there.
Homebrewers Greg Malone (left) and R.J. Ward
At this point, they’re in a constant state of garage-based brewing as they work to refine a handful of recipes they plan on introducing via Fathom. That set includes a whopping five India pale ales—Cannon, Black Beach, Decepticon, Optimus Primo, and UnFathomable NEWT. Cannon’s named after the Carlsbad beach near Ward’s home and, fittingly, is a model West Coast IPA, while Black Beach is a black IPA. Drawing their names from the Transformers franchise, Decepticon and Optimus Primo are double IPAs brewed with opposing Belgian yeast strains. As for UnFathomable, it’s an imperial IPA developed in collaboration with a Seattle hombrew contingent called NEWT. A British session beer made with strawberries and Belma hops, and a dark Belgian-style strong ale will add variety to the hoppy mix. Several of the beers above were entered in this year's edition of the San Diego County Fair’s annual homebrewing competition.
Content to take things slow, Malone and Ward plan on starting the licensing process for Fathom in late 2013, the shooting for a 2014 debut. They’ll be looking to set up shop in a small space in their hometowns of Carlsbad or North Park, but will also consider being the first brewery to settle in downtown Encinitas. Once open, they hope to install an educational component for homebrewing rookies as well as a service where rec leaguers can rent out brewing equipment. But for now, it’s back to the garage for more “repeat as needed.”