ON AND OFF THE BEATEN PATH :: Hangar 24 Brewery

by David Daugherty on June 2, 2012

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On a recent trip to California to visit my son Nick, and my beautiful new granddaughter, Keyleyanne, I had the opportunity to visit Hangar 24 Craft Brewery in Redlands, CA. Nick was throwing an anniversary party and, as part of the prep, we went to pick up a keg of Hanger 24’s Alt-Bier Ale. We’d been to Hangar 24 before and really enjoyed the styles they offer, so while we waited for them to prepare our keg, of course, we ordered a couple beers.

The brewery is located directly across the street from Redlands Municipal Airport so while sitting on the patio, we talked and watched the planes take off and land. Time went by so fast! Ben Cook, Founder and Master Brewer has been brewing beer for over 6 years, majored in biology at Cal State San Bernardino, and then graduated from the Master Brewers program at the University of California, Davis. He’s also a pilot. Ben and his friends would get together after a day of flying and talking about aviation while drinking beer, hence the current location and the name Hangar 24.

On our last visit Nick and I drank many of their year-round beers and were very impressed. This time around I started off with the Amarillo Pale Ale, low in bitterness, coming in at 35 IBUs. The ABV was a respectable 5.5% and the flavor? Outstanding! This is a well balanced Pale Ale with the right amount of Midwestern malted barley you taste right away on that first sip, but then the taste buds start hopping (pun intended). The carefully selected hops are all as described, lending not a bitternes, but a delicious citrusy flavor to this ale, something you often don’t get with pale ales.

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Next, I had to try the Orange Wheat. With a lot of breweries developing their own versions of Orange Wheat, this one is subtle, more like drinking an orange soda. I am a heavy, hoppy ale drinker so as this was fine, this style was something that I knew my wife would enjoy more than myself. Very low IBUs at 17 as well as a low ABV (4.6%), a nice side note on this brew, taken directly from the website: “Our oranges are purchased through the Old Grove Orange company (affiliate of the non-profit Inland Orange Conservancy) whose main objectives are to save the local orange trees from disappearing, spread the word about the local citrus growing heritage, and to feed the hungry with the unutilized oranges. Please visit them at www.inlandorange.org. All we need to do to save the orange trees is to eat or drink locally grown oranges!” I like when breweries are proactive within the community, which I’m happy to say in more often than not the case, and make an effort to give back.

I went on to drink another tasty and very good version of the northern German Alt~Bier, Hangar 24’s, Alt~Bier Ale. The aroma is sweet with caramel.  With the first taste, you get a hint of chocolate, which blends well with the smooth caramel flavor.  You’re asking, chocolate? Yes, their version of this style was looking to be a little more sophisticated so they do something different. They add chocolate roasted malt. IBUs come in at 22 and the ABV is great at 6.0%.

One of my favorites was next up and I have to say, even though I am not big on dessert and don’t eat chocolate, I could have spent all day with their Chocolate Porter. IBUs are 47 and a smoothly integrated ABV of 8.0%. I cannot fully describe the complexity of this Porter, so I’ll let the brewery do it, as I agree with every word they write: “Rich and decadent. This strong porter is perfect for sipping at the end of the day or to accompany full-flavored foods. The intense, roasty flavor comes from two types of chocolate malt and raw cocoa nibs. Whole vanilla beans introduced post fermentation add complexity and enhance the dessert-like qualities of this full bodied beer. Indulge yourself!  This beer began life as our Panamanian Porter with the flavors of chocolate, vanilla and banana. A truly unique beer, we felt that all those flavors needed some smoothing out so we changed yeast strains and eliminated the banana flavor (which came from the yeast strain). The Panamanian Porter did have many fans however, and there may be plans in the future to bring it back for a special occasion. Stay tuned.”

Last but certainly not least was Hangar 24’s Double IPA, another favorite! Why? They combine four very distinct hops, all of which makes for a huge party in the mouthfeel…Centennial, Citra, Columbus, and Simco, with the addition of local orange blossom honey and five malts. Not only was the aroma something you would want to harness and make into an air freshener, it made my mouth salivate. That first sip exploded with so many flavors, it grabbed my full attention. I was so impressed with this offering, I didn’t want to leave the brewery, despite (or maybe because of) the ABV at 9.0% and the IBUs at 118!

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Hangar 24 is a production brewery with an awesome tasting room.  Since they are not a pub and have no kitchen to serve food, they have gotten together with some of the local restaurants so you can order food, have it delivered curb side at the brewery and eat there on the patio with one of their many excellent brews. Nick and I raised our glasses for a toast and recognized that this would be the place we would return to every time I go for a visit, ‘our place’ so to speak. While you’re there, visit with Kevin Wright, the Brewery General Manager and Head Brewer. He’ll show you around and he’ll give you a great education on the brewing process.

One last thing to note: when Nick and I were at Hangar 24 in November 2011, they had a barrel aged brew they planned on releasing the following month, December 2011. For Christmas, Nick bought me a bottle of the first release, which produced three 495 Magnum-sized bottles, shared on Christmas Eve, it’s called Barrel Roll No. 3 – Pugachev’s Cobra. This was an absolutely incredible brew that attacked with flavors and alcohol which again, described by Hangar 24: “Get ready for an assault on your senses with PUGACHEV’S COBRA, an intense Russian Imperial Stout. This rich, black beauty with a thick caramel head is bursting with aromas of chocolate, vanilla, oak, bourbon, licorice and dark fruits, while flavors of chocolate-covered plum, sweet malt, bourbon, and roasted coffee explode on your pallet. This is no ordinary beer; three different dark roasted malts and rich maple syrup are combined in a truly unique brewing process to create complexity and depth. Once fermented, it’s then aged for eight months in freshly emptied bourbon barrels. This powerful concoction is designed to be enjoyed now with friends or cellared to perfection and savored in the years to come.  PUGACHEV’S COBRA: The brainchild of Victor Pugachev — not for the faint of heart. Pilot suddenly raises the aircraft nose to near vertical before dropping back to attack mode.”

To further the incredible taste experience, this one did me in, in a good way.  The ABV – 16.5% and the IBUs, 85.  One word, ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!  Yes, I fell asleep folks, and it was wonderful!

 

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