From baseball to beer, Ryan Edell has made the transition from professional baseball player to co-owning a brewery with his partner, Jason De La Torre. Together, both men have jumpstarted San Gabriel’s first and only brewery: Ogopogo Brewing.
A brewing enthusiast at heart, Edell originally ignired his interest by brewing during the offseason. This hobby eventually culminated into a passion, and Edell began immersing himself in the industry. “Everyone in the craft beer industry is very friendly, and there’s a lot of sharing of ideas with an emphasis on experimentation,” Edell said.
With a brewing certificate from the University of California, San Diego in hand, Edell met his partner at Saint Archer Brewery in San Diego. After migrating to Golden Road Brewing in Los Angeles, Edell and De La Torre started Ogopogo once the former was sold off to brewing multinational Anheuser-Busch InBev. “The acquisition was kind of the kick that started us off to do our own thing,” Edell said. “So we did all the fundraising and started looking at locations until we discovered this warehouse.”
A current look at Ogopogo's warehouse
A look at Ogopogo's custom made chairs, which will be used in the tasting center
Located down a discreet commercial district off San Gabriel Boulevard, Ogopogo Brewing is housed in a warehouse formerly occupied by a textile company. Its name – a palindrome Edell notes – is a play off the Canadian Lock Ness Monster, while also playing homage to horror films from the 1950s. “At the time, I was really into B movies – specifically obscure films – and I thought it might be interesting to have monster names for our beers,” said Edell. The company’s affinity of the genre translated to its logo, which features two Ogopogos joined by a wave and a tail.
Unique name aside, Ogopogo Brewing hopes to make a splash in the craft beer industry by focusing on the unique tastes of the community, rather than on regional expansion. “I think a lot of breweries are interested in expanding,” said Edell. “That’s a good but hard model to follow, so we wanted to do the opposite by becoming hyperfocused on locals and the community.” This focus – Edell believes – is what will make Ogopogo stand out. To do this, Ogopogo will offer several flavors, including a blonde ale, a rye pale ale, a double IPA and a porter along with several unique specialties upon opening. Depending on the preferences of the community, Ogopogo will reduce and refine its selection over time.
To maintain costs, Edell also plans to build or modify much of the brewing equipment in house. “Buying new brewing equipment is very expensive, and we wanted to build a brewery that could make profit off the vat.” Edell is also in the process of making tables and chairs, which will be used for Ogopogo’s tasting center. “People will be able to come in and taste our beer, and when we package beer, they can take home the freshest beer that they can have from us,” Edell said.
While an opening date has yet to be determined, Ogopogo plans to make its first public outing at Dumpling & Beer Fest on October 5. “We’ll be offering a Galaxy IPA, which will be brewed with Galaxy hops with a lot of passion fruit, citrus and peach that will have a crisp, somewhat bitter finish to it.”
Until then, you may learn more about Ogopogo Brewing by visiting their website here.