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Meet Rayland Fuentes of TrueRoots Brewing Co. in Lincoln Heights

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rayland Fuentes.

Rayland, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was a bartender for 13 years working for restaurant groups such as Patina and Michael Mina Group in Los Angeles. I have been passionate about creating new flavors and products when I was behind the bar. Moscow Mules started becoming very popular about a few years ago and ginger beer is the main component of the cocktail. I didn’t like using some of the ginger beer that is out on the market because the flavor tasted manufactured and they add preservatives as I am big on using real and natural ingredients.

Naturally, I gravitated towards making my own ginger beer using fresh ingredients and everyone seem to enjoy it. One of my bar regulars took noticed and asked if he can invest in bringing the ginger beer product and other natural beverages to market.

We decided to set-up and R&D lab and manufacturing facility in Lincoln Heights so we can formulate and make our drinks to be tested and sold locally at first then scaled to be distributed nationally and internationally.

So, we made a batch of ginger beer in 5-gallon kegs and sold it to a sports bar in San Diego and it was an instant hit. They decided to purchase more for their second location and they have been our loyal customer since day 1.

This year we were able to successfully package the product in beer cans and we started our campaign to build our brand and introduce a unique product in an existing category. We manage to differentiate ourselves as the only ginger beer that is good to drink on its own with health benefits from using cold-pressed ginger juice.

Our journey to where we are today took plenty of persistence and sacrifices. The beverage industry is so competitive and saturated that it takes a certain drive to get customers to notice you in order to get to where you need to be.

We are just getting started as we move to build our product portfolio by listening to our customers and constantly perfecting our craft through meticulous R&D and brand development.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road was definitely bumpy in the beginning. Part of the challenge was to create a stable product using natural ingredients that means no unnatural preservatives whatsoever.

When we first introduced our product in cans, our customers were complaining that the cans were exploding after a few days unrefrigerated. We scratched our heads and tried to figure out what was happening. Through research and talking to beer makers and chemist, we found out that the ginger beer was refermenting in the can in higher temperatures. Since we are not using preservatives, this was a challenge to stabilize.

Luckily because we are making the product in small batches in the beginning, we were able to recall the batches while we figured out our production process. We had to delay our orders as it was important to fix this issue before we can scale and move forward.

Through testing various stabilization techniques we were able to solve the issue and now our product is market-ready and gradually scaling to meet demand.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with TrueRoots Brewing Co. – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Our company’s mission is to make great-tasting beverages that are natural and healthy. We want to take into account the health and well being of our customers. The market is saturated with products that are detrimental to the long term health of the world. We want to change that by creating healthy alternatives that are scalable and sustainable.

I am the head formulator and flavor maker for our company. I am in charge of product R&D as well as day to day operations. I analyze and streamline the production process to make sure that quality control is set in place. I also engage with our customers in order to get feedback so we can continuously improve our existing product line as well as create future products.

I am proud of the dedication of our team to be resourceful in order to solve day to day problems and challenges. We believe that everything has a solution and that everything can be improved.

What sets us apart is our ability to listen to our customers and create specific products for them. We reversed engineered the process instead of making a product and then pushing it down their throats through aggressive marketing techniques. In the end, people know what they want and we just want to make it for them and hopefully we don’t let them down in the process.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
As we continue to scale our plans are to build a bigger facility in order to further our R&D efforts as well as manufacture our products and co-pack for other companies.

We want other companies to come to us for formulation and product beta testing and batching before committing to a larger co-packer and scaling their products.

Our plan is to remain in the natural product segment of the industry and use our experience and knowledge to take great products to market.

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