BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Beer is in the blood of brewery owners Rebecca and Eric Giddens. The married couple who met as kids now own the Kern River Brewing Company. It was voted the Best Brewery Group at the Great American Beer Festival.
“To win a brewery group of the year like we did and win four medals, what it means most to me is for a little town like Kernville and all of our employees to share in this honor, which is a national honor," said Eric.
BUT THE AWARDS WON AT THE FESTIVAL HARDLY BEGIN TO TOUCH WHAT THE TWO HAVE ACCOMPLISHED OUTSIDE OF THAT.
The awards won at that festival hardly begin to touch what the two have accomplished outside of the brewing world.
"I have footage from when I was a kid saying 'someday I want to make the Olympic Team' and that dream came true," said Rebecca. "Olympic medal was my dream and it finally happened.”
Yes, you heard that correctly. Rebecca is an Olympic Silver Medalist in Canoe Slalom, winning at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, GA.
BOTH OF THEM COMPETED ON THE U.S. WHITEWATER KAYAKING TEAM ...WINNING WORLD CUPS AND CHAMPIONSHIPS.
Her and Eric both competed on the U.S. Whitewater Kayaking team, winning world cups and championships.
“I was on the junior team for a little over four years and the U.S men's team for a little over ten years," said Eric. "I made an Olympic team in 1996 and then when I got too old and slow I started to coach and that's when Rebecca was coming into her prime."
So how on Earth did two Olympic athletes find themselves interested in opening a brewery?
"Being white water kayakers, we were in a lot of different mountain towns and every little mountain town had this awesome little gathering place that happened to be a brewery and you don’t have to go to a bar to hang out afterwards," said Rebecca.
They settled on Kernville, a town with a population just north of 1,500. It was the perfect spot for outdoor activity and with water nearby.
“You can’t beat the mountains, the river, the backpacking, the climbing, the mountain biking as I mentioned, it has a little bit of everything, plus the community is incredible," said Rebecca.
The two now have the best of both worlds, a brewery that sits on a river. It's a dream that may be better than an Olympic medal.
“Kayaking is still my main passion, I mean don't get me wrong I like beer, but I think kayaking is really what makes me happy and that’s why we’re still in Kernville," said Eric. "When the river comes up we get to jump on it. No matter how bad our day is and we get to go play on the river.