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‘ColdChela’ Celebrates L.A.’s Latino Homebrewers With Its Annual AYCD Beer Festival

Images courtesy of Ray Ricky Rivera

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he temperatures in the southland have been steadily rising, and so are the numbers of members in the all-Latino homebrew club based here, the SoCal Cerveceros.

And this Saturday evening in East L.A., ColdChela, their third annual beer competition and beer sharing event is taking place yet again.

“It’s a big difference from our first one in a backyard where it was just six of us and we drank all of our own beer and we had to go the liquor to buy some more beer,” Ray Ricky Rivera jokes. He is the group’s co-founder and current president, which is now made up of about 40 active homebrewers who have paid their dues. At this year’s event, 20 homebrewers will be pouring their best stuff.

He’s hoping his own brew—a fresh saison made from frozen mango chunks and hand-trimmed fresh guavas—will leave a lasting impression on the judges that day. “It’s currently coming in at 8 percent!” He brags.

An all-Latino homebrewing group like So-Cal Cerveceros is a sign of the times as Latinos increase their presence in L.A.’s craft beer scene. Latinos in craft beer is nothing new as noted by beer writer Sarah Bennett in the past or even by ABC. (Bennett is one of ColdChela’s esteemed beer judges.)

According to Agustin Ruelas, SoCal Cervecero’s other co-founder whose been homebrewing for eight years now, the group started because both Rivera and he just didn’t feel comfortable at other homebrewing clubs. The group started 5 years ago as a result of the age-old way of getting dudes to do something, Rivera says. “I told Agustin, ‘You’re not down!’ He responded, “I’m down if you’re down!” That was that.

The group should only get bigger as more large-scale Latino-owned craft breweries start to expand to Los Angeles, such as Border X from San Diego’s Barrio Logan or Whittier Brewing Company in Whittier. Not to mention as more coming-of-aging Latino beer drinkers realize they can make delicious beer at home themselves but will have lots of questions along the way.

“There weren’t any homebrew clubs that were specific to Latinos and it felt weird when you tried to go to other homebrew clubs and tried to fit in,” Ruelas says now. He will be serving a Belgian Tripel using Muscat grapes and a cream ale brewed with peaches from his front yard. Both Rivera and Ruelas hope to make their passion of homebrewing into full-fledged careers, respectively. Ruelas with a brewery and taproom named Brewjeria in Pico Rivera and Rivera with Norwalk’s first ever brewpub he is calling Norwalk Brewhouse.

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