Interview with Dry River Brewing

DRB dragonOur friends over a Dry River Brewing are currently about half way through a Kickstarter campaign to get the nano/contract brew phase of their Brewery plans off the ground. Read more about the Kickstarter and see their awesome video by clicking here! We caught up with the man behind Dry River Brewing, David Hodgins, and asked him some hard hitting questions. Check it out:

When did you first start Dry River?

Dave: We started Dry River Brewing in 2012, after home-brewing for a few years.  We’re big loca-viresm and LA is way underserved in terms of local breweries — we see tons of pent-up demand for locally produced beer.

Why the name Dry River?river bridge

Dave: We were scouting possible locations and were really drawn to the LA River.  It’s mostly paved over and covered with trash and graffiti, but the river is a really interesting part of LA’s history and now there’s an amazing vision to revitalize the river, dig up the concrete, reintroduce native plants, and build bike trails, parks, and other amenities to make the river a real destination.  We wanted the name of our brewery to get people thinking, and for our brewery to be part of that revitalization effort.  Hopefully our name won’t make sense any more at some point!

What is the hardest thing you’ve had to deal with on your road to opening so far?

Dave: Finding space has been a challenge since it’s really important to us to be on the river, but we have our eyes on a few potential locations and I’m excited about our prospects.  Just reaching people is a challenge, too — even with Facebook — so thanks for writing us up!  We are all just so bombarded with information, you really have to be persistent with your messaging.

IMG_1248Tell us about your beer.  What styles are you starting out with and what does the future hold?

Dave: I usually like IPAs and Belgian styles, but with Dry River we’re primarily brewing session beers with non-traditional recipes, and really trying to reflect the culture of LA.Our Horchata Cream Ale will be our flagship beer, and I think it’s a good example of our style.  It starts as a traditional Cream Ale, but we add flaked rice to the grain bill, add vanilla beans and spices to the boil, then dry hop it with Japanese hops that accentuate the vanilla flavor.  We also do a Jamaica-Weisse with hibiscus flowers, and a bunch of tea-infused Belgian styles.  There are so many great beers out there, we’re always inspired to try new things to stand out and be different.

Can you tell us about the use of non-traditional ingredients in your beer?

Dave: We use lots of non-traditional ingredients in our beer – not to be gimmicky, but because they accentuate the flavors we’re going for, and make our beers more unique.  Dried flowers can add amazing flavor and aroma, and work really well as an alternative to hops in our wheat beers.  Hops are obviously not non-traditional, but we do lots of single-hop IPAs to really showcase different hop flavors and seek out new varieties as they come available.  Fruit also makes its way in to some of our recipes, like our Pamplemoose Belgian Pale with grapefruit or our Apricot Heffeweizen.

What local brewery do you especially admire? Why?Dave Kayaking the LA River

Dave: Locally, I really admire Browerij West — I think 3 of my 5 current favorite beers ever are by them.  I respect the brewer’s (Brian Mercer) emphasis on simplicity in his recipes, and how he stays so true to his vision.  They only produce Belgian styles, no IPAs or anything else, and they started before Belgians were in style – I think that takes a lot of guts.  I also love their branding and aesthetics.  Brian has a great eye.

What non-local brewery do you especially admire? Why?

Dave: As far as breweries outside LA, I am a huge fan of Mikkeler.  He puts out a ridiculous number of beers each year, and pretty much every one I’ve had has been amazing.  I think it’s cool how he partners with other breweries around the world, not just because he comes up with such interesting recipes but also because he can use such a broad range of fresh local ingredients.

What is your vision for Dry River and what role will the brewery play in the LA craft beer market?

Dave: LA is really underserved when it comes to local beer, so we see lots of room for new breweries to thrive side by side. We want to carve out a sustainable niche, and work with local retailers that are really committed to craft.  We don’t have aspirations to become a national player – we want to stay local, and focus on variety and quality over volume.  Craftsman, Browerij West, Beechwood, Lady Face, Sundowner, those guys are great examples of what we’re trying to do. Super focused, and all about the beer.

DSCN3988Finally, as someone transitioning into the industry, do you have any advice for aspiring brewers that are looking to get in to this line of work?

Dave: Don’t try to do it alone!  You can avoid lots of mistakes if you get professional advice early on.  And reach out to established brewers too – it’s amazing how supportive the craft beer community has been.

Anything else you want to say/Mention?

We just launched a Kickstarter campaign, so we hope you will all check it out and hop on board!  We need all the support we can get!

And there you have it! Our first interview with Dry River Brewing. These guys have great beer and are posed to do cool things in the LA beer scene so I think we’ll be checking back in with them quite often. Go donate to their Kickstarter and help grow LA beer!



About John Rockwell

John Rockwell is a co-founder of LA Ale Works and contributing writer to Bierkast. He has been home brewing for over seven years and is a certified BJCP judge, "Bring me your beer!".

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