Local businesses collaborate on innovative beer

Viva Wu, left, and Andrew Luthi.



When Viva’s PopRice owner Viva Wu came to the United States from his native Taiwan in 2015 on a business visa, he dreamed of starting a business manufacturing snack foods — more specifically, a product similar to popcorn but made from brown rice.

But he never imagined his product would become a new beer ingredient.

Several months ago, Viva approached Andrew Luthi, Alhambra resident and owner of Ohana Brewing Company, and suggested the local tasting room and company store carry Viva’s products as pre-packaged snack items for Ohana customers. Andrew agreed, and sales of the snack items were strong.

“PopRice and our beers pair very well together,” Andrew said. “Customers especially favor the cheddar, jalapeno, and jalapeno and cheddar combination. I also think the sweet caramel pairs well with our Imperial Stout.”

As he sampled the various snack items, Andrew formed the idea of using the unusual ingredient as an adjunct in his brewing process. “An adjunct,” Andrew explained, “generally refers to a beer ingredient other than malted barley that is used to contribute sugar for fermentation.”

“We’re able to use the brown rice,” he continued, “because popping gelatinizes the starch. Those starches are then converted to sugars by enzymes in the mash provided by the malted barley.”

And what about the finished product? “I think incorporating the popped brown rice is a style-expanding innovation that contributes a deep flavor complexity to the finished beer,” Andrew said. “Our first beer brewed with the popped rice is an India Pale Ale (IPA). Come try it on tap at the tasting room, or pick up a growler fill to take home.”

What does Viva think about the collaboration? “I’m excited,” he said.

Viva’s PopRice is gluten free and non-GMO. “PopRice is made with 100% brown rice grown in California,” Viva said. “It’s delicious, and it’s healthy snacking! Among other things, it contributes necessary fiber to your diet.”

Viva’s PopRice is located in Alhambra at 525 W. Main St. Telephone

626-940-5232; website www.vivaspoprice.com.

Shipping is available. Find Viva each Sunday at the Alhambra Farmers Market on South Second Street from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Ohana Brewing Company is located at 7 S. First St.; telephone 626-282-2337; website www.ohanabrew.com.


Ohana Brewiing CompanyViva's PopRicebeer ingredientbrown ricesnack items

Jan 2021


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