The Rincon Band’s Craft Brewery Reflects its Culture

For the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, a brewery presented an opportunity for economic diversification. The Tribe opened the doors to the first certified Native American-owned and -operated brewery on Tribal land in Southern California on Thursday, January 30th.

Rincon Reservation Road Brewery, a.k.a. 3R Brewery, is situated adjacent to the Tribe’s Harrah’s Southern California Resort, so the Tribe’s businesses lend themselves to vertical integration. 

But perhaps the Tribe’s most paramount focus is cultural integration. The brewery’s owners and operators, Rincon Economic Development Corporation (REDCO), distinctly wanted a brewery that reflects the Tribe’s rich history. The brewery’s name, for instance, honors the indigenous trail Rincon Reservation Road that runs through several modern-day Indian reservations including Rincon, Pechanga, Soboba, Pala, Pauma and La Jolla. 

REDCO put a venerable brewmaster, Shawn Steele, behind the craft of making beers that showcase ingredients indigenous to the region. Steele’s resume touts experience at Karl Strauss Brewing Company and Coronado Brewing Company. Though he’s not Native American, Steele is proudly brewing signature beers that pay homage to the original Californians, the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, who have prevailed for over 14,000 years.

The Chief IPA, for instance, relies on Zappa hops — found in the mountains of New Mexico. Most hops stem from Europe. Other brews include a Oasis Blonde Ale, Rez Dog- Hefeweizen, and Red Rattler-Amber Ale. Future offerings may include a hazy IPA, a fruited American wheat ale, and two rotating seasonal brews. 

While REDCO recognizes Steele as a vital asset, the long-term plan is to initiate a mentorship program for Tribal members. “We will eventually have a Tribal member become our brewmaster, passing on the business and knowledge for generations to come,” Ruth-Ann Thorn, Chairwoman for REDCO, told San Diego Magazine 

REDCO’s future vision also entails introducing multiple tasting rooms across San Diego County. 

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