LocationAlhambra , CA United States
Ryan Edell was searching for something to do in the baseball offseason. So he started brewing beer. What started as a fun family activity soon became a career as he entered a two-year brewing certificate program at the University of California San Diego extension school.
Soon after finding work at a brewery lab in San Diego, Edell met Jason De La Torre. De La Torre, who also started out home-brewing, was considering opening a dive bar. The two found that they had a shared vision for a local brewery that would encourage socialization and community engagement. To them, San Gabriel was the perfect spot, because it’s close to L.A. but is still its own community.
“We wanted to open a brewery that was more local focused,” Edell said. “We wanted to think less about expansion and to really center around the city of San Gabriel.”
They did just that in September of 2017. Looking for a palindrome, — a word that is identical when spelled backwards — to use in the name, they eventually settled on Ogopogo Brewing, after a mythical Canadian sea serpent.
Like the brewery itself, every beer is named after a mythical creature, such as the dragonesque Ninki Nanka of West African folklore or the Icelandic living landmass known as Hafgufa. Each beer is brewed entirely in-house and is designed to focus more on a balanced taste rather than alcohol content or overpowering flavor additions. This is why you’ll see typical types of beer like India Pale Ale and Witbier alongside a Boysenberry Sour, all with an Ogopogo twist.
“Our main objective is to have a beer where someone can actually have a pint or two and not have to take an Uber home,” Edell said.
In addition to the beer, just about all of the furniture in the building was made by hand. With the help of Edell’s brother, architect Wess Edell, they ensured that the pieces gave off a “new, well constructed look” using “light, clean, straight lines.”
“I think one of the more unique things about us is that we actually built this place,” De La Torre said. “We moved in, the two of us, and just started building furniture in the beginning before we knew that we could do anything semi-permanent.”
Edell said that, although the brewery is not placing an emphasis on expansion, they do have plans to gain more of a presence in San Gabriel.
“We’d like to get into distributing more, eventually adding a canning line.” Edell said. “That way we can offer six packs to go and give that to local grocery stores and liquor stores in the area to carry our beers.”
Edell said that the brewery is always looking for fresh new ways to provide for the community. It regularly hosts events including bingo, karaoke, yoga, food trucks and live outdoor music.
It was at that point in the interview that we were cut short by a visit from a farmer. Edell and De La Torre give their leftover grain to him to use as dairy cow feed. Just another way that Ogopogo shows its values for community and the environment.