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California's Greenest Brewery to Open on the LA River

Most great cities are oriented towards a river or a body of water, and originally Los Angeles was too. The Los Angeles River was the lifeblood of the city when it was first established. It provided a source of water and food for the indigenous Gabrielino Indians prior to the arrival of the Spanish, and to the settlers that eventually followed. Back then the river ran through the basin from what’s now Los Angeles all the way down to Long Beach, and through the other communities of today’s Los Angeles County. But its path was unpredictable and the river swung in a wide swath from Long Beach to Ballona Creek, which became a major problem as Los Angeles became more urbanized. Finally in the 1930s people began to call for measures to control the river, and the Army Corps of Engineers channelized it by completely encasing the river's bed and banks in concrete, leaving only a trickle of water flowing down its middle.

That’s the Los Angeles River most people know, but there are actually some great bike paths alongside it, birds and fish are flourishing in some parts, and there are even sections where you can kayak. We want our brewery to reflect Los Angeles’ unique history, but also help to shape its future; which is why Dry River Brewing will sit on the banks of the Los Angeles River.

My background is in green building and renewable energy; my wife and co-brewer, Vanda Ciceryova, comes from the hospitality world. We’re both total craft beer nerds and loca-vores, so we got in to home-brewing a few years back. Dry River Brewing really combines all of our interests—beer, food, art, music, and sustainability. Our beers have a local flavor that reflects the heritage of the region, like our Horchata Cream Ale and our Jamaica-Weisse, brewed with Hibiscus flowers. The brewery will also have a sustainable sea-food restaurant that will emphasize locally-sourced ingredients, showcase local artists, and also be a performance space for local musicians.

I actually didn’t think much about the river until I started looking at potential locations for the brewery and my broker took me to see a property in Boyle Heights, right on the river. I was totally drawn in and immediately felt that everyone needed to experience that same sensation. When I looked in to it, I found out that there were some great organizations trying to bring the river back to life, like Friends of the Los Angeles River, the Arroyo Seco Foundation and the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation, whose mission is “to transform the Los Angeles River and to improve people’s lives by carrying out sustainable land use projects, advocacy for river friendly policy, and programs for community benefit.” That mission really resonates with us, so we’ve partnered closely with the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation and committed to donate one percent of our profits to them once we’re up and running.

We see Dry River Brewing as a place to bring people together around a shared vision for what the Los Angeles River can be. There is a huge opportunity to create the longest urban greenway in the country, to reconnect the city’s diverse communities with over 50 miles of bike and pedestrian trails, and to provide a safe place for people to interact and enjoy the outdoors—all while creating billions of dollars in local economic activity. Highline Park in New York City contributed almost two billion dollars to the local economy, and we believe that the Los Angeles River has that same potential. We hope Dry River Brewing will serve as an anchor to attract other businesses and accelerate this whole process of revitalizing the river. So when you come to Dry River Brewing, you can party with a purpose. Check out our project on Kickstarter and see how you can get involved.

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This project is part of GOOD's Saturday series Push for Good—our guide to crowdfunding creative progress.

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