Beer & Gear: Loco por la Aventura at Hopworks Brewery

Welcome to Beer and Gear, a new series where we get to know individuals making big moves in Portland’s Athletic and Outdoor industries at well-loved breweries around town. In this first edition, author Ellee Thalheimer sits down with Maria Teresa Lopes and Anibal Rocheta at Hopworks Brewery to talk about their outdoor adventure company Loco por la Aventura.

Maria Teresa Lopes and Anibal Rocheta tumbled into the booth at Hopworks, bursting at the seams with good news. Even though we had known each other for approximately 90 seconds, they shared their tidings with me as if I were an old friend, talking over each other and smiling ear-to-ear. 

That day, their new partnership with adidas had been made official to the public. Loco por la Aventura, an outfit specifically catering to the Latino community, was one of eight companies to be chosen for the 2023 adidas Community Lab cohort, composed of Portland-based Black and Latino entrepreneurs in the safety, sports, and outdoor recreation industries. 

Ten years ago, Lopes and Rocheta couldn’t have imagined this destiny. In 2014, they came to Portland as political refugees from Venezuela – knowing no one and carrying only two suitcases. Rocheta didn’t know English at that point. 

Lopes laughed while she told the story of walking from the airport to a nearby hotel to save taxi money. Someone yelled out a car window to see if they wanted a ride. They anxiously waved away the motorist; accepting a ride like that would have been a risky proposition back home. 

“Portland people are friendly,” adds Lopes. “At first we were very unsure.”

“We want to be a bridge between the Latino community and outdoor recreation.”

-Anibal Rocheta

Back in Venezuela, Rocheta had been an adventure guide who led everything from rock climbing to caving trips and ran an outdoor store on the side. Once in Portland, he wasted little time. By 2020, he spoke English well and co-founded Loco por la Aventura with Lopes, who had been steadily growing her communication and media career. 

Of course, 2020 was a tough year to start a business, but they kept at it. From the Columbia River Gorge and Mount Hood to the Deschutes River and Smith Rock State Park, Rocheta offered hiking, mountaineering, snowshoeing, rafting, camping, rock climbing and mountain biking trips, all guided in Spanish. Through social media and a newsletter that now reaches more than 1,600 inboxes, they slowly grew their brand.

“People saw what we were doing and were like, ‘I want to do that,’” said Lopes.

Thanks to his deep love of the sport, Rocheta puts extra effort into connecting with Latinos interested in mountaineering. At the end of 2023, he published Nadie Logra lo que no se Atreve, translated as Nothing Ventured Nothing Gained, which he says is the first book on mountaineering written in Spanish and published in the United States. Additionally, he’s partnered with Mazamas, a Portland mountaineering institution, to teach a mountaineering course in Spanish. 

“We want to be a bridge between the Latino community and outdoor recreation,” says Rocheta. “And I love interacting with people, especially beginners. Showing them how to have fun in nature brings a special energy. Very rewarding.”

Hopworks Brewery

As I chatted with Loco por la Aventura, we had the fortune of crossing paths with Christian Ettinger, who founded Hopworks Brewery with his wife, Brandie Ettinger. “As a B-corp business, we use beer as a force for good,” says Ettinger, who is a platinum tier supporter of NW Trail Alliance. “Our family is always outside, and we support the trails we ride.” Because of their support of all things outdoors, it felt synchronistic to drink beer here. Hopworks is also a beer sponsor of the cyclocross race series the Cross Crusade, and supports Oregon Wild, a non-profit that protects Oregon’s wildlands, wildlife, and water. Cheers to that.

Ellee Thalheimer is a Portland-based freelance writer and guidebook author. When she can’t get to the trails, she’s writing fiction, relishing local IPAs, falling off bouldering walls, and obsessively scheming the next adventure. Find her on Instagram: @pnw_hedonism.