In an age when craft breweries seem to be popping up in every other city throughout Southern California, there are few that attempt to be original beyond just their beer. However, I & I Brewing in the city of Chino is a small batch brewery that has perfected tasty recipes for both its beer and having a good time.
“The good thing about not having any TV’s in our building is… people actually talk to each other,” says Chuck Foster, one of the three owners at I & I Brewing.
Foster, along with Eric Millspaugh and Chris Miller, opened the brewery on January 6, 2012. Its grand opening was host to 150 people — and with only Foster, Millspaugh and their wives helping at the time, the success of the first night was a clear indication that they would soon have to relocate to a bigger establishment. Nearly a year later, the brewery moved to its current location, doubling in size and opening new opportunities to stand out in the craft beer world.
From the outside, the local watering hole looks like just another industrial building on Edison Avenue in Chino. Inside, however, is a different story. Upon entering, you are captivated by an enormous beer listing board that can feature up to 30 different beers on any given night. On the opposite end is a colorful wall of green, gold and red that compliments the sweet sound of reggae music that can be heard from the parking lot as you walk towards the entrance.
Foster’s playlist of new-school and old-school reggae stops only when a live band is playing inside the brewery. I & I’s first official show was held in spring of 2013 as a birthday celebration for Foster’s wife, and featured Los Angeles’ Ital Vibes, Arise Roots and Ezzrah. All three bands, who have also performed at the Support Local Reggae Store in nearby City of Industry, have continued to play at the brewery since their initial appearance.
“It’s important for us to make sure the bands have a good time no matter how big the crowd is," explains Mllspaugh. "We’re not sticklers on time or what they do or how long they play. We make beer. They make music. Everyone is free to do their job the way they want to.”
The brewery’s most recent event featured the Youth Rising Tour with Synrgy, Iya Terra and Ital Vibes. The live music started last Friday at around 6:30 p.m. with Synrgy, a roots-reggae band who have been together for eight years. Originally from Arizona, the band now consists of members from all along the West Coast. Next up was Iya Terra, a newer roots band out of L.A. who are known for touring alongside their good friends in Ital Vibes. Both bands are working on new music to be released this year and Iya Terra’s first full-length, Full Circle (supported via an Indiegogo campaign), is nearing completion.
Although the brewery was packed, the two lady beer-tenders maintained their smiles and playful attitudes throughout the night. The bands were also clearly enjoying themselves, as they were never seen with an empty glass and each set featured on-stage collaborations between members of all three bands. After the show and during intermission, you could catch the musicians enjoying a pint amongst the crowd or getting some “fresh air” outside.
For those not up on their Rastafarian phrases, the name I & I refers to “unity” and is frequently used in reggae culture. Still owned by the three long-time friends who founded it, I & I Brewing is now home to five employees, along with several friends and family who regularly volunteer at Chino Hill’s hidden gem. The live shows are promoted by good friends of the I & I crew, Rudy Gaytan of Rude Entertainment Productions and Brendon Davis of Underdog Artist Management.
With over 200 beers brewed in the last three years, I & I Brewing is dedicated to keeping their establishment innovative and exciting. “By brewing in smaller batches, it allows us to make more beer and experiment with different ingredients," explains Miller. "We want to wow people with our beer."
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I & I Brewing is located at 5135 Edison Ave., Suite 1, in Chino. For more information, visit their website.