There are few things better than goods and services delivered straight to your door. When the goods are craft beer, we love them even more. Thankfully, Riip Beer Co. is here to make our dreams of beer delivery–dreams we didn't know we always had–come true. While they've been delivering beer in an old Helms Bakery truck to your door (if you live in Huntington Beach), you've been well acquainted with brews like their Dan-K IPA and Riip-Jitsu Session IPA in the comfort of your own home. The rest of us unlucky bastards have been waiting patiently for their taproom to open, which it finally will be this weekend.
In this installment of The Fermentor, I speak with brewer, Andrew Moy, to learn about the (shockingly young) man behind the beer.
When did you start brewing?
Moy: I started home brewing around Christmas in 2013. I graduated from school, UCI, with a degree in Public Health, and the job market was really hard at the time and I happened to get a home brew kit for Christmas and so I started home brewing. While I was looking for a job, I thought to myself, well, I might as well try to work part time at a brewery while I look for a public health job. Then I talked to [Blackwell at Belmont Brewing Company in Long Beach] and he didn't have a position for me at the time and that's when he sent me over to Bayhawk [Ales] where I first got my brewing job. I started milling grain for about three months and I started finally brewing on their system and learned the more industrial side of it. With home brew, the processes are the same but everything else about it is different. I was able to brew on the graveyard shift there and I learned a lot. Eventually, I went to Belmont for a couple of months and I've been here at Riip since January. All in all, maybe two and a half years now.
That's how long you've been brewing total?
Moy: Industry and home brewing total, yeah.
When did Riip official start brewing?
Moy: Ryan [the owner] started brewing last year I believe. He got moved out of his garage and so they rented like a little industrial unit and I believe they were talking about starting a brewery as a fun side project and then they found me and we went from there. At one point, Ryan bought the Helms truck from Brew Bakers because they were selling it off and that's how the beer delivery started.
How long has Riip been officially brewing?
Moy: We didn't start officially brewing until about February of this year.
How did they find you?
Moy: I was still at Belmont and I was looking for a step up and I posted my résumé up, and they reached out to me around October of last year. We met up a couple times and we got along really well, we like the same styles of beer. I think they liked that I was young. I think a lot of brewers these days that I know of are about 30 or so. It takes a while for people to get into the industry.
How old are you, if you don't mind me asking?
Moy: I'm 24. I'll be 25 in December.
Who came up with the beer delivery system?
Moy: I believe it was Ryan and it was kind of a necessity out of our size and what we could produce and our current licensing and our unit. Our current barrel size is a three-barrel system. We only get about five kegs per batch. It's super small but that's definitely the feel that Ryan wanted to go with a super small kind of brewery. But because of where our unit is located, there's no space and because of the planning of the buildings, we don't have a bathroom unit. So we were putting in a bathroom and so we had no choice but to distribute bottles and kegs. Then Ryan approached our [Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control] rep and said we were allowed to deliver beer, so we started doing that and people really blew up on it. And it's cool that we the old Helms truck, that old bread delivery truck.
So was your first month a bunch of test batches?
Moy: We actually didn't have the resources or the time to do test batches. The only one that we reworked was Dan-K. We didn't have the hops we wanted to use at the time but after that first batch, we got it on par. Most of the beers were first run and they're pretty good actually, not to be "braggish."
Were there any beers that came out on this first run that you were really impressed with?
Moy: I think Riipalicous IPA we got on the first try. It's a Nelson [hop] IPA. The Riip-Jitsu Session IPA was good right away but we tweaked a little bit here and there to differentiate it from the others. IPA is definitely our best-selling beers.
Do you plan to do brew any other styles? Maybe play around with barrel-aging or casking or anything like that?
Moy: Yeah, eventually. Right now, we're about to open a tasting room, that'll be good for us. We were brewing on four fermentors before and we have eight now so we can brew a few more styles. We've been playing around with a lot of IPAs because they're our best sellers and those are the types of beers we like to drink. But, in the future, I definitely hope to have a Bavarian-style [Hefeweizen], I have a Belgian strong ale recipe that I want to do. I eventually do want to get to sours. Our system has a herms coil, which allows you to keep your mash temperature at a certain temperature and you can do a sour mash with that. I don't have much experience with sours but I would like to talk to some brewers and get my bearings on it. We would also like to do a lager beer here and there. I think they're underrated and I think they get a bad name from the "big beers." It's a very respectable style; they're hard to make.