Humboldt Today with John Kennedy O'Connor
Yurok Tribal Member and Mad River Brewery COO Linda Cooley is Sharing Her People's Story Through Beer
As Humboldt beer drinkers will recall, back in late 2019 it was announced that the Yurok Agricultural Corporation was purchasing Mad River Brewing Company and its destination Blue Lake taproom, in the process making the three-decades-old business and beloved local institution one of only a handful of tribally owned breweries in North America.
For Linda Cooley, Yurok tribal member and Mad River’s new COO, the acquisition has been a dream, as its led to her seeing her people represented in spaces where they’ve historically been invisible.
“I got to walk into Safeway the other day and I saw the word ‘Yurok,’” Cooley noted to LoCO. “I never thought in my whole entire life that that would be possible … but here we are as Native people seeing our tribe’s name in these big chain stores and it’s unbelievable.”
On this week’s episode of Humboldt Holding Up, Cooley chats with LoCO’s Andrew Goff and Stephanie McGeary about the new role she unknowingly spent much of her professional life preparing for while also sharing some of the tribe’s plans for MRB going forward. Topics include:
- Growing up in Humboldt and getting her start in beer with Anheuser Busch and Eel River Brewery
- The Yurok Tribe’s decision to become one of only a handful of tribes to own a brewery and battling stigmas surrounding Native Americans and alcohol
- Carrying on the established Mad River Brewery traditions
- Sharing the Yurok story with the world via new labels and products like their hard seltzer “Undammed”
- The headache of buying a business just before a global pandemic
Listen to this episode
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