By Andrea Machuca | Photography: Jessica Rice McNew – http://www.beerandbaking.com
Located close-by the L.A. River in a predominantly industrial area and a stone’s throw from the hip Arts District, lies Dry River Brewing. One could say DRB will be the greenest brewery ever made by man, but I say this concept is nothing short of revolutionary. A brewery that sources local ingredients, maintains sustainability and thrives philanthropically – A trifecta of versatile goodness that benefits the LA community. Renaissance Brewmaster – Naga Reshi wholeheartedly believes in producing ‘Slow Beer’, #CraftBeer which is alike to your grandma’s slow comfort cooking. Beer that is fermented in refurbished oak barrels while respecting the local environment and fashioned from yeast strains that thrive at Los Angeles temperatures. Pasteurization and filtering play no role in the production Reshi’s beers. Simple. Pure. Delicious.
Dave Hodgins (Owner – Innovator – Futurist) and Naga Reshi (Mad Scientist – Brewmaster – Owner) and have been continually working hard to bring Los Angeles County, unadulterated ‘Slow Beer’ and it really does take a village (and city support)! Check out the full interview with Reshi below and visit they’re site for more!
Tell us about your brewing background. . . .
NR: I got turned onto brewing in the early 1990s and brewed with friends at their breweries until I decided to build my own brewery in Brazil. Karamuru was the first craft brewery in the state of Bahia, located on a beautiful tropical island called Itaparica. It was solar & gravity powered and situated right on the beach. I focused on spontaneous fermentation using exotic local fruits, botanicals, and woods. I also introduced many popular american styles like IPA, Stouts, and barley wines to a virgin, south american market.
After returning to the states years later, I went on help build and launch Wynwood Brewing company. The first craft brewery in Miami, which won GABF Gold the first year. I then traveled to Kodiak Island, Alaska to build their barrel and sour program.
My latest project, Dry River Brewing, drew me here to LA, where I’m excited to contribute to this amazing, burgeoning scene.
What inspired the conception of Dry River Brewing?
NR: We wanted to build a brewery with sustainability at its core. We utilize techs like solar thermal hot water heaters, solar HVAC, & water reduction to make beers which are congruous with our environment and climate. We wanted to make great local beers with flavors which are unique within the market. We wanted to make Slow Beer, which is akin your grandma’s slow cooking.
Tell us a bit about experimenting with LA local yeast capture. . .
NR: I grew up making bread with my Mom and was always fascinated by the work and magic these little yeast cells did. I began capturing my own wild sour dough strains and discovered that some of them made great beer. Now, whenever I travel, I try to capture exotic strains and have acquired a very diverse arsenal of fermenting yeasts & bacterias. Since living in LA, I have captured one excellent local strain which is now a resident in our house culture. I feel that using local yeasts is the final step in making truly local beers, and they produce beers which are truly unique to the region. We are now DNA sequencing some of our favorite finds in order to isolate the star members of these wild cultures.
What other specialty brews do you have planned for the Dry River Brewing catalog?
NR: We have several special beers coming out soon as I now have a well stocked barrel room with a plethora of beers in which I use for blending. Several of our bacterias and yeasts need up to a year to fully run their course. We are coming up on our One year anniversary, so some of the first beers I put into barrels are nearly ready. We will then bottle condition them for a few months to naturally carbonate them and allow maturity.
Explain the core values of Dry River. . .
- Inspiring Beers
We are here to help build our community and foster greener ways of living and brewing. We strive to be pioneers and guides in the fields of green energy and sustainability. In terms of beer, we want to explore the truly vast universe of flavor and technique.
What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
NR: Learning everyday and being able to be creative. Bringing ideas to life is the most fulfilling thing for me. My roles at Dry River include Brewer, Microbiologist, Architect, Carpenter, Urban Planner, Engineer, and QA specialist (beer sampler). I also love working with people in the beer industry, some of the coolest people in the world.
Educate us about oak barrel fermenting. . .
NR: We only ferment in oak casks. Each of our wood fermenters are inoculated with a unique cocktail of yeast and bacteria which produce distinctly individual flavors and aromas. These cultures become resident in the wood and grow and adapt to our breweries environment over the course of several generations. Fermentations occur at ambient temperatures and are subject to seasonal environmental fluctuations. We feel fermenting in oak adds depth and character to our beers and provide unique dimensionality.
How does LA/Boyle Heights inspire you?
NR: I’m very excited to be a part of the great craft beer renaissance happening here in LA right now. LA is a city which has a open minded and inquisitive pallet, which is a perfect fit for me as a experimental brewer. I’m inspired to create new and exciting flavors to share with my fellow Angelenos because I know they are not afraid to try something new…In fact they seek out new flavor experiences. I love that about LA.
If you had to pick a favorite beer from a brewery and offer it to a stranger, which one would it be and why?
NR: I honestly don’t have a favorite beer, but drinking a beer in the brewery where it was made is always a delight for me. I think my pallet is so curious, that I rarely drink the same beer more than a few times. There are just too many beers to try to get hung up on one!
If you were omnipotent, what would you change (first) to improve our beer universe?
NR: Remove red tape and let us make beer, contribute to the tax base and build our community.
What’s the most undervalued brewing ingredient?
NR: Definitely Yeast! Yeast has a massive impact on the finished beer and we have just begun to scratch the surface of the myriad secretes of these fascinating creatures. The emerging science of yeast wrangling and sequencing offers a exciting future for discovering new flavor and aromas yet unknown.
What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?
NR: I love to get back to nature and get inspired by the works of the Great Artist. I’m having a blast exploring California’s beautiful natural attractions with my woman, tent, boots, and kayak. Traveling abroad has been a life long passion and I find continuous inspiration through exploring foreign cultures and lands. Sunday BBQ’s with friends are also great, I love to cook for people.