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Q & A With The Founders of L.A. River Brewing Company
What happens when a group of friends shares a mutual love for home brewing? Why, they attempt open a brewery, of course. That's the case with the team behind the L.A. River Brewing Company, at least. And truth be told it's a little more complicated than that.
We chatted with one of the founders, Jessica Marshall, and got the scoop on how the gang got started, and where they'll go from here in order to make their sudsy dream a reality.
LAist: So, do tell. Who makes up your motley crew of brew?
There are four of us. First there's Ryan Truax and Constance Marshall. Ryan has been in the bar and restaurant industry in Los Angeles for 12 years. Constance is a prominent member of the L.A. Derby Dolls and has been crafting award-winning beers for the last 3 years. The other two partners are Tanner Worth and l. Tanner is our salesman and point-person. He has a background in sales and has also been in the bar and restaurant industry in L.A. for 9 years. And I have a career as a storyboard artist at Sony, and am responsible for all of the design and marketing elements for LARBC.
How did you guys finally come together to create this craft beer team?
Tanner and Ryan started brewing together because they liked to drink together and figured they could save money by making their own. The hobby soon turned into an obsession. Constance started brewing after I got her a homebrewing kit for Christmas a few years ago, and started to take it seriously after winning some awards in homebrewing competitions. We were brewing enough individually, sharing beers, talking about beer all the time, and so it just made sense for all of us to join forces and pursue this as a career. We pretty quickly realized that we all had the individual strengths that would make for a good company as a team.
Sounds much more productive than our drinking sessions. So what is it about Culver City is an ideal place for a new brewery?
Culver City is on the come-up as a food and beverage destination. A number of great restaurants have opened here over the past couple of years, and it makes sense that people that are searching out great local food would also be interested in great local beer. And the proximity to the new Expo Line makes it even more accessible. Within a couple of years, Culver City will be accessible by train from virtually every neighborhood in Los Angeles.
There are also a number of other great brewers and future breweries/brewpubs that plan to call Culver City home, including L.A. Aleworks, Phantom Carriage, and Pipe Dream Brewing. We also love Ohana Brewing, who opened recently and have their brewery space not far from the train line a little further east.
Photo courtesy of L.A. River Brewing Company
You're using Kickstarter to help fund your business. What's that process been like?
Kickstarter has been an amazing tool for us. We thought long and hard about how much money to target. We didn't want to shoot too low, because if we're ultimately trying to raise one million in investment capital, $20-30K doesn't really do a lot in the big picture, especially when we figured that by the time we pay fees to Kickstarter and Amazon, and then manufacture and send out the goods we've promised to our backers, we actually end up with only 85-90% of the money we've raised. At the same time, we really didn't see Kickstarter as a feasible way to try to raise, say, $200K. People have done it, but not with projects of this type. We settled on $75K after a lot of discussion, because that figure seemed to fit neatly in the middle -- enough money to make a difference, but not so much that it seemed completely out of reach. But honestly, even if we don’t hit our fundraising goal, the amount of exposure we’ve gotten via the Kickstarter campaign over the last 60 days has been invaluable. It’s opened up avenues to private investors. It’s gotten people talking.
What was it about LA that inspired you to open up here?
We live here, and we love beer... L.A. should be one of the premiere beer cities in the country, but it's a relatively underserved population. There are tons of people who love craft beer here, and almost none of it is actually being made here. A lot of awesome breweries have opened in and around Los Angeles in the last 3 years -- Eagle Rock, Ladyface, Strand, Ohana, Monkish, El Segundo, Smog City, Enegren, San Pedro just to name a few -- but in a city with so many thirsty people, there’s room for more.
What are your "signature" brews? What makes them unique?
At L.A. River Brewing Company, we’re focusing on West-Coast style beers with primarily American ingredients. Those that we make that are traditionally European styles are unique in that we make them using mostly American-sourced components. We plan to open with a portfolio of 5 year-round brews, and if we have a couple of “signature” brews, they’re probably our Pacific Pale-isades Pale Ale and our Silverlake Hopster IPA.