As a college student, Derek Gallanosa didn’t have a clear picture of a career but he chose his major wisely. “I chose marketing, which can be applied to a plethora of different industries,” said Gallanosa. He also happened to be passionate about beer. “I first saw a friend’s dad brew in his backyard and it blew my mind that you can make beer at home,” he said. “That led me to purchase a home brewing book and some equipment. After a few batches, I fell in love with it and haven’t stopped brewing since.”
Fast forward a few short years and Gallanosa is the head brewer for Abnormal Beer Company, beer curator for The Cork & Craft — San Diego’s first restaurant, winery, and brewery — and an instructor in San Diego State University’s Business of Craft Beer certificate program.
Now in its fourth year, the popular SDSU program provides hands-on training for those looking to enter or already working in the brewing industry on the business side, rather than the brewing side of operations.
Since 2015, Gallanosa has been teaching Marketing Craft Beer, a particularly essential course given the city’s status as Craft Beer Capital of the U.S. He answered some questions about his enviable career and his course.
Please give us a brief history of your education and career.
Out of high school I attended SDSU for three years before transferring to Cal State University, San Marcos where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business marketing. During college I sold TVs at Fry’s Electronics and continued for a year and a half after college until I got a job at Karl Strauss as an assistant brewer in 2010. I moved up to brewer position shortly after, moved over to the sales department of Karl Strauss in 2012, then moved to Abnormal Beer Company in 2014 to be head brewer, sales rep, and event coordinator as well as beer curator for The Cork & Craft.
How did you get on board with Abnormal Beer Company?
I was helping as a server for my friend’s catering company with an event at Abnormal Wine Company. That was where I met the owners Matt DeLoach and James Malone. They asked about what I did for my day job and it was a coincidence they wanted to expand their winery and add a brewery.
What is the name Abnormal a nod toward?
I like to define Abnormal Beer Company by the experience we’re able to give through the art of beer. Customers eat in our upscale restaurant and think about what they’re tasting, what ingredients are used in the dishes, who made the food, and where it was made. I want them to take that mindset and apply it to beer. We have educated staff to let customers know about our beer and what it takes to make. So “abnormal” doesn’t mean we make experimental beers all day, it means that we’re able to stand out and give people a different experience when approaching our craft beer.
How did you learn of SDSU’s Business of Craft Beer program and how did you come to be an instructor?
I was aware of the program by just being involved in the industry. It was a very big deal among the brewing community that this was happening. I got involved when the program learned I was a marketing major and ran a brewery.
What are some of the key points you’ll cover in your course, Marketing Craft Beer?
The course is divided into six weeks, each with different topics: Why is Brand Important, Public Relations, How to Create a Marketing Plan, Sales, Digital Marketing, and Complementary Industries. I also bring in guest speakers from various positions and breweries. There’s no homework or tests but there is a final project where students take an unnamed beer and create a marketing plan for it. I like to teach applicable information that the students can take into the real world whether they’re trying to get into the craft beer industry or further their careers within the industry.
Will you use Abnormal Beer Company as a case study?
I always use my experiences from Karl Strauss and Abnormal Beer Company as examples in my class.
You’re also the beer curator for The Cork & Craft — San Diego’s first combo platter of restaurant, winery, and brewery. What does that entail?
My job is to determine what guest beers go on tap. We have a lot of taps but I have even more beers that I would like to showcase at The Cork & Craft. I have to be very selective in what we purchase. Also we take pride in our bottle list that has some hard-to-find sours and stouts.
Tell us about The Cork & Craft’s quarterly beer dinners.
The Abnormal Dinner Series is a night where the restaurant is closed and a multi-course beer dinner takes over the dining room. We bring in a guest brewery and a guest chef to join forces and create unique beer/food pairings that you would not find on our regular menu. These dinners are special to us because we get to work with other people in the industry that we admire. Another special part of the dinner is that a new beer debuts that was a collaboration between the guest brewery and Abnormal Beer Company.
Are all of Abnormal’s beers gluten-reduced or just some? What prompted that decision?
All of the beers we produce here are gluten-reduced to below 20 parts per million. It comes from the use of the Clarity-Ferm enzyme produced by Miramar’s White Labs. The main purpose of its usage is to reduce chill haze and increase shelf stability. The reduction in gluten is a bonus which has definitely helped us gain more followers.
When did you have your first sip of beer, what was it (if you remember) and what did you think?
I believe it was Miller Genuine Draft at 14. Rough start but I think I’m drinking a lot better beers nowadays.