Interview: beer pro Dave Hodgins (Dry River Brewing)

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Craft Beer Los Angeles

Offering smooth sailing (and craft beer) since 2012, Dry River Brewing is the latest brewing operation to utilize Kickstarter to help them brew up a business.  But there is more to it than that. The folks at Dry River want to also be a “part of the transformation of the LA River” and have partnered with LA River Revitalization Corporation to make the river a place of beauty again. Dave Hodgins, who runs Dry River with Vanda Ciceryova, took a brief break from brewing and pouring beer at an eclectic set of events across Los Angeles to answer a few questions about the brewery.

At what point did you know you’d work with beer for a living?

It’s always been a dream, but I think the moment I knew I wanted to make beer for a living was when I shared my first batch with some friends at a party we were hosting. They were kind of freaking out, and I felt so gratified that something I created could make people so happy.

Is there anybody who mentored you along the way? If so, what did they teach you that was so valuable?

My dad has always been a great mentor to me, and super supportive of me pursuing my interests. He pushes me to think things through, but also to keep things moving and pursue lots of paths at once. I think it’s because of him that I’ve been able to juggle all the things I have to manage for the brewery and still hold down my day-job and a happy marriage!

I’ve also found people in the craft beer industry to be really collaborative and helpful. John Blackwell at Bonaventure Brewing, Janet Caisse at the Craft Brewers Association, Bob at Hermosillo, John Rockwell at LA Ale Works… the list goes on. It’s cool to be part of a community where people support one another.

I haven’t met him yet, but one of my role-models in the beer world is Mark Jilg from Craftsman – to me, he sets the gold standard in terms of quality and creativity, but I also really respect his approach to the business. He’s not trying to be huge or famous – he puts quality and integrity first.

What was the first beer you ever brewed, and how did it turn out?

I’m a big fan of IPA’s, so the first beer I ever brewed was a wheat IPA loaded up with Citra and Cascade Hops and then dry-hopped for 2 weeks with more Citra. I was pretty nervous – keeping everything sanitized and obsessively watching the airlock bubble away – but it actually turned out awesome. Really fresh and citrusy, with a nice body to it. Beginners luck I guess.

How do you go about naming your beers?

Naming beers can be hard sometimes, but we have a few overarching ideas that help guide us when we’re naming a new beer. Dry River Brewing plays off this contradiction of the LA River, which is paved over for the most part, so we mess around with nautical themes and ideas about sailing– like with our Hop on Board IPA, or our Man Overboard Double IPA – and also with ideas about the river itself, like with our Rio Seco Pale, and our Soft-bottom Dunkel. We also love Latin culture and try to incorporate those flavors in to some of our beers, like our Horchata Cream Ale and our Jamaica-Weisse which we brew with hibiscus flowers.

If you could only drink one more beer, and you couldn’t brew it, what would it be and why?

Man that’s a tough one… I have so many favorites, but if I could only have one today it would have to be “of Love and Regret” from Stillwater Artisanal Ales. I had it recently when I was back east, and it absolutely blew my mind – it’s a Belgian ale, but super grassy and floral and perfectly balanced. That guy [Brian Strumke] is a genius.

You can meet Dave and sample some Dry River Brewing beers at the following events:

Friday, July 5, 9pm, Grand Performances
You can find us pouring beer at the VIP Lounge post show at Grand Performances Tribute to Nina Simone in downtown Los Angeles.

Thursday, July 11, 6-8pm, Apparatus Opening Reception, M+B Gallery
Find our beers on tap at the opening reception of Apparatus, a group show curated by Tim Barber at M + B Gallery in West Hollywood.


Sean Inman

Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.

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