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Beer for a Better L.A. River

What better way to celebrate a trip to the river than downing a good brew dedicated to the waterway itself? That's exactly what husband-and-wife team Dave Hodgins and Vanda Ciceryova thought when they started work on Dry River Brewing.

"This is really a passion project for us," said Hodgins, who on regular hours owns a consultancy group that works to implement renewable energy programs on a large-scale. His wife, Ciceryova, runs a yoga studio and art gallery in Highland Park. Despite managing separate businesses, he and his wife are working to build a craft beer company -- with a purpose.

The couple began brewing right out of their Mount Washington home just for friends and family, producing such flavors as Horchata Cream Ale and Pumpkin Pie Porter. Positive feedback soon encouraged the couple to plunge into the craft brewing trade, but it was only when they glimpsed the Los Angeles River that they found true inspiration.

"I was totally enthralled with the Los Angeles River and helping to be part of the redevelopment efforts," said Hodgins. The couple was scouting locations downtown and in Boyle Heights when they first saw the potential of the river. Until then, the river was something they had heard of, but never truly appreciated.

After seeing the river, the couple found their muse. "It was seeing it in person that did it," explains Hodgins. "I was actually on the east side looking west to downtown from Boyle Heights. It was an angle that I had never seen the city from. It gave me a different perspective of downtown, the urban center, and the Los Angeles River as part of all that as opposed to something separate. It just clicked."

The craft brewing company was named Dry River Brewing, a name that evoked the Los Angeles River's rocky road to revitalization. "It's an oxymoron. It gets you thinking," said Hodgins. "It's also a nod to the L.A. River in its current state."

Hodgins and Ciceryova reached out to the players on the waterway's revitalization and eventually partnered with the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation (RRC), and committing one percent of its profits toward RRC's L.A. River-related development projects. "We're going to put our money where our mouth is," Hodgins said. The couple so far have supported the RRC through event sponsorship and beer sampling (of course!)

Right now, Dry River Brewing's tasty sounding brews aren't for sale. They've been giving away their beer at river events such as the launch of RRC's L.A. River Regatta Club. Lack of appropriate licenses prevents them from selling their wares, but it doesn't stop them from spreading the word.

Apart from being the beneficiary of some tasty suds, RRC is currently helping Dry River Brewing find a location near or on the Los Angeles River. "They're emblematic of the type of companies that we want to see around the L.A. River," said Omar Brownson, Executive Director for RRC. "They're creative, they're producing, they're artisans. We want to be able to support early stage companies like these on the river."

Before Hodgins and Ciceryova can move forward, they first need to step up production, for which they've launched a Kickstarter for $25,000. Until now, the couple had been making all this beer in their home, using simple equipment. "We're basically using a big pot in our kitchen," shares Hodgins. With funds from their Kickstarter, the two hope to purchase commercial equipment to brew bigger batches, while they scout for their new home on the Los Angeles River.

Support Dry River Company here. Their funding challenge ends August 2.

About the Author

Carren is an art, architecture and design writer and an avid explorer of Los Angeles. Her work has been spotted on Core77, Dwell, Surface Asia, and Fast Co.Design. You can find her online and on Twitter. 
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