Words by Niko Krommydas (originally published by Good Beer Hunting)
Ricky Rivera has helped lead the push to remedy the lack of Latino representation in craft beer.
In 2015, Rivera was among the seven founders of Los Angeles-based SoCal Cerveceros, which aims to organize, educate, and support Latino homebrewers pursuing the hobby in spite of an industry that has historically neglected to engage with their community, save for calculated advertising by macro brands emphasizing unfounded stereotypes to sell Mexican Lagers. Since then, the club has grown to 250 members—women comprise 30%, the effect of a consistent focus to create a more diverse and inclusive environment—and has proven instrumental in developing a new generation of brewing talents who have turned pro, changing the makeup and shaping the future of Southern California’s beer scene. The latest example of that evolution is Rivera himself. Earlier this year, he ran a successful Indiegogo campaign to take his Norwalk Brew House brand commercial, and plans to release his first beer, Bidi Bidi Blonde Blonde, in January. Ahead of the launch, he began collaborating with area breweries like Eagle Rock Brewery and Brewjeria Company to benefit local Latino nonprofits, true to Norwalk’s mantra of “Make Good Beer, Do Good Things.” To date, he has helped raise more than $10,000 for these organizations, many of which have been hit hard by the pandemic. (The last four collabs were spurred by Rivera’s past as a professional musician, supporting the Rhythmo Mariachi Academy, which lost its beloved founder and mariachi pioneer, Gabriel Zavala, to COVID-19.) Rivera is also in the final stages of starting a distribution company for Latino- and other minority-owned beer startups, continuing to expand and evolve his estimable efforts to topple well-established barriers and diversify the industry.