A couple of weeks back we decided to take a little roadtrip inland to Hangar 24 Craft Brewery in Redlands, California.
We’d heard about Hangar 24 over a year ago while Beer Molly and I were hanging out in Las Vegas. At the time they were shutting down the brew pub in the Monte Carlo and we had asked one of the guys disassembling the brewing equipment where it was going.
“To a new brewery opening up in California,” the guy said. “Hangar 24 by the airport in Redlands.”
Saddened by the lack of fresh beer in the Monte Carlo, we shrugged and moved on. (BTW — turns out the guy we had talked to was Hangar 24’s owner and brewmaster, Ben Cook.)
Fast forward to a month or so ago and the arrival of one of our semi-regulars at the Lost Abbey tasting room. He comes down to San Diego once a month or so from his home in San Bernardino and this particular time he happened to be wearing a Hangar 24 t-shirt.
“Hey, that’s the place that got the brewing equipment from the Monte Carlo,” I said. “How’s the beer?”
“Not bad,” he said. “You ought to go there sometime.”
“Next time I’m in Redlands,” I said.
Redlands is 70-odd miles north of us just off of Interstate 10 at the foot of the San Bernardino mountains. There’s not much out there save the brown haze that blows in from Los Angeles and a lot of orange groves, so I’d never actually been there, nor had I any plans on going.
A couple of days later Beer Molly and I wandered into our favorite beer bar to discover two Hangar 24 beers — the Orange Wheat and a porter — on tap. I ordered the Orange Wheat and Molly the porter. Turns out the beers weren’t merely “not bad”, they were actually pretty good. That’s saying a lot because I’m a fan of big-assed double IPAs, not lightweight lagers, and Molly is hyper-critical of just about any porter or stout.
Those two pints (and a third for Molly) settled it. We were going to Redlands and Hangar 24.
Conveniently, Hangar 24 has good weekend tasting room hours, so Molly, Adam and I loaded into the car on a Sunday afternoon and rolled out to the brewery. It turned out not to be difficult to find. Pretty much take the I10 to Redlands Blvd., turn towards the mountains and drive until the road ends. Hang a right, and bang — there it is right across the street from the hangars at Redlands Municipal Airport.
The brewery sits in a converted warehouse once used by missionaries. It has an open, airy feel thanks to the big bay opening and large windows that span the length of one wall. When we arrived around 2 pm there were a dozen or so folks standing about talking quietly and sipping beers from small plastic cups. A young lady filled growlers and tasters from taps along the cold box wall which afforded those awaiting their beer a nice view of the brewhouse and its rows of copper kettles relocated from the Monte Carlo.
Most of the Hangar 24 staples were on tap — a Helles, the Orange Wheat, alt, pale ale and IPA. Sadly, the one beer Molly had come to try — the porter — wasn’t, but given that she was a little dazed from the heat (and perhaps a couple of glasses of Adam’s spicy Bloody Marys), she didn’t seem too disappointed. I found all of them to be good beers, a little on the lighter side, which made them excellent for the brewery’s dry, warm, sub-desert location. Ultimately I liked the alt beer the best and had a couple extra tasters of that one, while Adam, ever the hop-hound, settled with the IPA.
While there chatting with the other patrons we got the opportunity to meet brewmaster Ben and his wife, Jessica, as well as Molly who mans (womans?) the tasting bar. Ben showed us his bottling line and shared his trials and travails with it (same story everywhere — are there any non-finicky bottling lines?), plus we got a chance to tour the brewhouse and check out some of his rather cool modifications to his mash tun.
We also sampled some of his Imperial Blood Orange Wheat straight off the fermenter. (Excellent — a light, citrusy flavor that belies its 8% ABV.)
Before we left gave Ben and crew some Lost Abbey beers and gear and they gifted us some t-shirts and a couple growlers of IPA and alt beer. (Hangar 24 growlers are very cool, btw.) Oh, and Ben promised that he’d send Molly some porter when it was ready. All-in-all a great trip; One that gave me a new appreciation for flavorful lagers and ales that don’t wander into the 10% range. We’re looking forward to going back there sometime in the near future.
Hangar 24 photo gallery: