July 29, 2012

Photo Essay: A Brewery in An Airplane Hangar

It may be a bit off the beaten path, but Hangar 24's brewery in an actual aircraft hangar across the street from the Redlands Airport is cool.

And, near the intersection of the 210 and the 10 freeways, it was on my way to Joshua Tree.

An aviation fan himself, master brewer Ben Cook (a former homebrewer) founded his brewery in the very same hangar where he once gathered with friends for a post-flight beer.

It may be small, but its beers are available by the keg, bottle, and soon by the can (but so far, mostly in Southern California, though as far north as Fresno).

All beers are pretty much made with the same ingredients: water, malted barley, and hops.

What makes the taste difference is the exact balance of those ingredients, any additional spices or botanicals added (as in the case of the deliciously light Orange Wheat), and the fermentation process.

Hangar 24 is a 24/7 brewery, meaning you could stumble upon any stage of the beermaking process...

...which today included letting off come CO2 yield from the yeast fermentation into a plastic bucket receptacle...

...and actual bottling (a rarity at the craft breweries I have visited), on a unique Italian bottling machine whose manual contains instructions only in Italian.

Much to the chagrin of those who must fix it when it breaks down.

In addition to the Orange Wheat, beers range from lager to pale ale to IPAs to an altbier and a chocolate porter, as well as a variety of limited seasonal offerings.

They're all fun to taste while planespotting.

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