Beer enthusiasts Ricky Ray Rivera and Agustin Ruelas say they never felt connected to the brewing community in Los Angeles.
“No one was actually making me feel that way,” says Rivera. “It was just this thing where it was always these older white dudes with beards.”
He and Ruelas ended up connecting online, and bonding over their love of beer and shared experience as outsiders.
“He [Ruelas] was like ‘dude I feel the same way,’” says Rivera. “ ‘I wonder if there are other people out there like this.’ We wanted a space where we felt comfortable.“
The two formed SoCal Cerveceros in 2015, what is now the largest Latino homebrewers club in the country. After putting the word out, the group’s membership exploded, with like-minded homebrewers uniting at garage-based meetings or linking up online.
This Sunday, the club it is organizing a Day of the Dead-inspired beer festival called Dia De Los Cerveceros y Cocineros in Lincoln Heights.
The afternoon event offers attendees a chance to try ales and lagers from more than 30 of the club’s 80 homebrewers, representing cities and neighborhoods across L.A. and Orange County. A handful of independent Southland chefs will also be cooking at the event.
Long Beach’s Maltitude Brewing is bringing a spicy tamarindo saison, hoppy hefeweizen and Mexican chocolate stout. El Sereno’s Inquisitors Brewing Company will pour its Chocolate Strawberry Milkshake IPA. Warcloud Brewing from Rowland Heights has a strawberry blonde and MexiCali lager among its offerings. Brewjería, where Ruelas is a brewer and partner, will showcase ales that will be made in its soon-to-open Pico Rivera brewery while Rivera’s own Norwalk Brew House will pour its black IPA.
“The ingredients that many of these Latino brewers are using are really interesting,” says Rivera. “It wasn’t until I started hanging out with these guys that I saw guava being used in beer. And tamarindo or hibiscus. Things you find in regular drinks that are distinct to our heritage. You know, our grandmothers used to make us horchata. Now you’re seeing it in beer.”
The drinking food is coming from chefs and restaurants like birria specialist Juan Garcia of Compton’s Goat Mafia; Alitas el Diablo with its Mexican-flavored hot wings; Pizza Express, which tops its pizzas with ingredients like Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, asada and chorizo; East L.A. BBQ with dishes like smoked lengua tacos and tri-tip tortas; and Zanetas Vegan Kitchen, who may have an exclusive burger or taco up its meat-free sleeves.
In addition to a crafts market and DJ collective La Junta Sound System, three bands are scheduled, including Taíno-influenced, Afro-tropical Tropi Corillo and psychedelic soul-funk rock band Chola Orange. A special unannounced local band is promised to close out the day.
Tickets for Dia de los Cerveceros y Cocineros are $30 online and $40 at the door. 100% of proceeds go to arts education non-profit Plaza de la Raza, where the event is being held, and Boyle Heights-based self-sufficiency non-profit El Centro de Ayuda.