LOS ANGELES — "Make good beer, do good things" is Norwalk Brew House’s motto. Founder Ray Ricky Rivera wants to do more with his business than just sell beer.
"When I was thinking about whether I seriously wanted to move into the beer space and launch my own brand, I started to think, 'There are so many great beer producers in the world. What would I be able to contribute to that culture and that scene? The world doesn’t need another beer company,'" Rivera said.
He sells his flagship Bidi Bidi Blonde Blonde, a Mexican-American blonde ale, and other brews direct to retail hoping to have a public brewery in Norwalk one day. Before that, his first mission was to bring more Latino representation into the craft beer space.
“There’s probably maybe 1% of Latinos on the ownership side and in positions of master brewer and head brewer. So, I feel like it is important that we show we exist in the space,” Rivera added.
His second mission is to give back. Rivera is on his 10th beer project where proceeds from certain brews go to local nonprofits. Now, the Agua de Oro will go to local Olympic Gold medalist Brenda Villa’s foundation.
"She’s the most decorated athlete in the world for women’s water polo and I feel that story doesn’t get told enough," Rivera explained. "I wanted to do something that spoke to that story.”
Villa grew up swimming and practicing water polo in Commerce. She says the city is known for water sports, but when she rose through the ranks, she didn’t see others who looked like her.
“It made me wonder, 'Why are there not more of us playing? We are good here. I was able to do this. Why aren’t Black or brown kids getting those opportunities?'” Villa questioned.
So, she created The Brenda Villa Foundation, sending micro grants to programs or individual athletes around the country. This helps pay for more instructors, program fees, equipment and to assist those from underserved communities to follow their dreams.
“We try to find these smaller swim schools that have multilingual instructors, find the club teams that need additional support to thrive and survive,” said Villa.
When Villa heard about Rivera and Norwalk Brew House’s mission, she was excited to be part of it. People are already buying beer, so why not use it to give back? Rivera hopes the community will do just that saying, “People love getting behind a good cause.”
If you would like to participate, visit Norwalk Brew House’s website for the beer finder.