In October of 2015, Riip opened up a tasting room in one the best locations of any Orange County brewery, right on Pacific Coast Highway, a short walk to the sand in a small Huntington Beach shopping center. With a tiny cold box and a small collection of homebrew supplies, the brewery was in a constant state of operation, mostly thanks to its small size and the popularity of its beers.
Riip’s focus remained on the IPA, which would pay off quickly. A year after the tasting room opened, the brewery took home its first medal at the 2016 Great American Beer Festival in Denver, winning silver for Super Cali IPA among 312 national entries, the most entries of any category at the fest.
Brewer Andrew Moy took the win as a sign. “I had been looking at going to brewing school for a while, and my grandpa had some money saved up. After I got the GABF medal he offered to pay tuition so I went for it.” As of December 2016, Moy left Riip and enrolled in the master brewing program at the Siebel Institute of Chicago. He’ll then move on to the Doemens World Brewing Academy in Munich, Germany. I can only imagine him telling his classmates he just won second best IPA in America just a few months ago.
Andrew’s replacement was seen as another big building block for the small brewery—the hiring of Trevor Walls, a brewer who went through Andrew’s exact program years ago, before taking the reigns at Pizza Port San Clemente. Trevor is an outdoorsy type who loves the art of brewing, fishing, and of course sharing a beer.
With all of this talent comes adversity. Demand for the brewery’s beer is so great that it had to stop selling growlers just to keep up with thirsty tasting-room drinkers. When space next door opened up, they didn’t think twice. Expand now or have angry customers.
With the new space next door to the tasting room aquired, the crew had to find a creative way to get the new brewery installed, as it physically couldn’t fit through the front. “We found the Dunkel Bros. to move the brewery in; these are the same guys who moved the Space Shuttle Endeavor from LAX to the California Space Center,” says Trevor. A huge hole was cut in the ceiling and movers craned in their new larger brewhouse, then closed up the ceiling above.
The new production facility can’t come online quick enough and is slated for operation in late April. But will it be enough to handle demand? Some brewery expansions are kind of like freeway widening projects. By the time it’s complete, demand has already outgrown the expansion. Until then, a trip to the beach and a stop at Riip sounds like a fun excuse to get out and do some beer tasting.
Brewer Trevor Walls walking me through a tasting.
Riip Beer Co., 17214 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach // riipbeer.com