The opening line-up of brews at Rancho Bernardo's Abnormal Beer Co.
16990 Via Tazon #123, San Diego
Since the Cork and Craft debuted late last year, beer fans have awaited the debut of its onsite brewery’s ales. This has a lot to do with the fact that the man at the brewhouse controls, Derek Gallanosa, is one of their own.
Besides having brewed and sold beer for Karl Strauss Brewing Company, Gallanosa is popular in bottle-share circles for his nth-level beer geekdom and appreciation for artisan ales and lagers. So, when Gallanosa announced he’d be tapping the first three house offerings from C&C’s Abnormal Beer Company, the San Diego beer glitterati came out to represent.
I battled my way through C&C’s packed bar area to order a four-beer sampler flight. I started with 5PM Session, a session (read: 5.1% ABV) India pale ale dry-hopped with Mosaic, Cascade, and Nugget. With those hops, one would expect a symphony of aromas and flavors, but somehow, that’s not the case. The beer smells of citrus and has a light, mostly lemony flavor, but it’s very thin. This and a nice, crisply bitter endnote keeps the beer refreshing, but I found myself desiring more depth.
The appropriately named Debut IPA came next. At 7.6% ABV, there was more malt texture on the palate, but it still felt pretty light in body. Gallanosa went for restrained bitterness with this brew and that’s what he ended up with. The hop presence shows itself in the form of (rather mild) citrus flavors than IBU punch, which is nice.
I found more bitterness in the finish of ABC’s Mostra Mocha Stout, a 5.1% ABV milk stout brewed with high quality Guana cacao nibs from San Francisco’s TCHO and espresso-roasted beans from Mostra Coffee, the owners of which have a stake in C&C. The espresso comes through big time along with dark-chocolate bitterness that balances out sweetness from the lactose. But even though the beer is made with oatmeal to add viscosity, this beer also feels thin, albeit drinkable. A honey-laced cask version of the stout was also available.
It would seem there’s a solid foundation where Abnormal’s beers are concerned, but as the operation grows, I hope its beers bulk up.