Barely six months in business, Rancho Bernardo's Abnormal Beer Company has announced plans for a million-dollar expansion to its brewhouse. Abnormal's ten-barrel system will continue to operate inside restaurant Cork and Craft, which also houses Abnormal Wine Company.
16990 Via Tazon, Rancho Bernardo
The expansion will take over a 2000-square-foot suite next door to the 5000-square-foot restaurant. Eleven new fermenters will occupy the rear of the space along with hot and cold liquor tanks, allowing head brewer Derek Gallanosa to speed up production and boost capacity up by 550 percent. The front two-thirds will be used to accommodate private events.
The new investment will also include forklifts and delivery trucks for the self-distributing brewery, plus space to grow its fledgling barrel-aging program. Gallanosa says demand for Abnormal beers has been growing in the short time they've been available. "We were only filling up half the tanks," he says about the startup's early brewing efforts. "But now we're starting to fill them up all the way. We're getting a lot more interest."
Focusing on high-visibility beer bars, the young brand primarily works within the San Diego market. However, its reach is slowly extending throughout Southern California, as it participates in off-site beer events and monthly beer-dinner collaborations at Cork and Craft.
"With the collaborative dinners, I try to set up beer collaborations with each one," Gallanosa explains. "I have one in the tanks right now for our November beer dinner with Alpine. I'm scheduled to work with [Orange County beer company] The Bruery for December."
Between limited capacity and space earmarked for these collaborations, Gallanosa hasn't had a lot of room to branch out beyond Abnormal's three most popular beers: Debut IPA, 5PM Session Ale, and Mostra Mocha Stout. He anticipates the additional fermenting space will allow him freedom to produce more different styles and variations.
"I kind of like making different styles," he says, "playing around with it. Trying different variations of IPA, saison, stout, or porter." Working out of a restaurant with 30 guest taps, he says he's motivated to make beers that will complement that selection, rather than be redundant.
"I'm probably not going to use the extra tanks to make something that somebody else makes great,” he notes. "I want to layer the flavors, make more complexity." Mostly, he adds, "The main focus is to be drinkable and easily paired with food."
The new tanks will arrive in February, though Gallanosa doesn't expect the expansion to be complete until this time next year. Still, a pretty quick expansion for a brewery that opened in the spring. Although, Cork and Craft/Abnormal co-owners Elvin Lai, Matt DeLoach, and James Malone have apparently long anticipated this move — Gallanosa says when the plumbing was installed for the restaurant and brewery, the pipes were set to easily connect to the expansion suite, just in case.