Technically, this wasn’t my first time at Hangar 24 Craft Brewery. That initial visit took place in August, 2011, after a grueling nine-hour hike up San Gorgonio Mountain and a harrowing off-road drive that had my friend H.C.’s tiny car bounding past fissures and potentially crippling rocks for seven miles at dusk. Clearly we were in need of a beer, but my stomach was so torn up from the back seat twists and turns that I literally couldn’t handle a single sip. Thankfully, Ben Cook’s brewery wasn’t going anywhere, so I got a reprieve.
Ben Cook debuted Hangar 24 Craft Brewery in 2008, occupying a former airplane hangar across from Redlands Municipal Airport. The building is seemingly in the middle of nowhere, but keep driving to reach an unpaved parking lot and frequently packed patio.
Hangar 24’s blackboard menu accounts for ABV and IBU. The brewery’s done a good job of getting their handles online at craft-minded bars and restaurants in the L.A. area, but they still have special seasonal taps at the source.
A four-beer tasting flight cost only $4, which is one benefit of drinking beer where its made. Of course they were only three-ounce pours, and they appeared in plastic cups, but that was fine. The beers included dark brown Chocolate Porter (8% ABV) that wasn’t too sweet; a hoppy, golden-hued Columbus IPA (7% ABV) that sported the biggest head of the bunch; an amber Double IPA (9% ABV) that was less bitter; and their copper colored seasonal, Hullabaloo (6.5% ABV), a Scottish ale with caramel flavor.
Thankfully, my return to Hangar 24 was much less painful than my initial foray, and it didn’t require a rocky road or marathon hike to lead to craft beer salvation.