Rincon brewery ramps up production ahead of summer
Summertime often brings changes to the lineups offered by microbreweries, and despite having to shut down operations in mid-March due to the pandemic, summer 2020 will be no different. At least this is true of the Rincon Reservation Road Brewery.
Owned by the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians and located on the reservation, the brewery was severely impacted by the Harrah’s Resort Southern California closure in March. Kegs of beer that would have typically been poured in the casino’s bars and restaurants were dumped since there was nowhere else to serve them.
While the closures were abrupt, it offered an opportunity to focus, re-evaluate and improve on the brewery’s business side, said Marc Martin, brewery ambassador.
“Typically, in the craft beer world, we’re stepping over ourselves to try to get beer out the door mostly, it’s a crazy business,” he said. “It was kind of a nice little way to step back and look at things.”
Master brewer Matt Dale used the time to prepare two new beer styles to debut this summer: the Tuupash Blueberry Saison and Luiseño Hazy IPA. Meanwhile the tribe and management team revamped the brand’s image to better reflect the tribe’s culture and history.
“Luiseño has some incredibly rich history and culture, and we were able to go ahead and incorporate a lot of that into the new packaging designs,” Martin said.
Another pandemic adaptation is that cans of beer were sold to companies hosting virtual beer festivals.
Unlike state, county and city governments, tribal governments build their revenue through business ventures in addition to some federal funding. Historically, casinos have been the most successful business opportunities for tribes throughout the country, said tribal gaming professor Kate Spilde in an interview in April.
The Rincon brewery is the only one owned by a tribe in the state, and it incorporates traditional, local ingredients into the beers they develop, said Ruth-Ann Thorn, chairwoman of the Rincon Economic Development Corp.
“The idea of Rincon Reservation Road is not just about our tribe at Rincon, but it’s about all of the tribes in the Valley that are Luiseño tribes,” Thorn said. “This is really the story of the original Californians, the people that were here — my ancestors — and that have been here for 14,000 years.”
Harrah’s began a phased reopening last month, but the brewery and tap room will remain closed for the time being. Rincon beers can be found in some convenience and grocery stores in North County, but plans are in the works to increase distribution.
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