Coincidentally coinciding with the end of American Craft Beer Week this past Saturday, Hangar 24 Brewery celebrated their 5th anniversary with an all-day AirFest taking place at Redlands Airport. Hangar 24 fans could enter for $5 if purchased online, or $8 at the gate. Located just across the street from the tasting room, this all-ages gathering covered almost the entire airport area, sans the runway, with tents and trucks pouring beers. Strewn throughout the area, in addition to the various tents and trucks pouring beer, the airport crew set out vintage planes that guests could inspect and gaze at, and opened some of the hangars so guests could tour the airport. Guests could climb into some of the planes for photo opportunities as well. All day long, taps poured beers, food trucks sold their food, local bands played live music, and pilots put on aerial acrobatics shows, providing more than enough entertainment for the crowd. A kids’ play zone kept the little ones busy while the adults could go and drink elsewhere. Free parking meant that guests could leave and return at their leisure, provided that they leave their wristbands on. With so much ground to cover, so much beer to drink, and so much else going on, no guest should have ever felt bored the entire day.
Various music acts performed throughout the day on the single center stage, eventually headlined at night by a Journey tribute band. At noon, the stage played host to a local comedian as well.
Albeit barely visible in the following photo, stunt pilots performed aerial acrobatics throughout the day, maneuvering planes in dangerous ways that impressed all onlookers. At one point, one of the pilots performed the Pugachev’s Cobra, a maneuver which Hangar 24 named one of their beers after.
Down at the west end, guests would find all of the vendors selling food and merchandise, plus the food trucks: Bacon Mania and Garlic Scape.
As this fest took place at an airport, guests could find airplanes all throughout the venue area. For some of the older planes, guests could only look at them and take pictures with them. For newer or larger aircraft, guests could actually enter them.
If you have ever attended the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, you will surely remember the beautiful sunset over the mountains and palm trees. While this airport had no palm trees, its location by the mountains yielded a spectacular sight as night fell and the sun produced an entrancing glow over the horizon. This almost makes you want to go to Hangar 24 one day in the evening just to witness the sunset from the tasting room.
With the airport closing prior to sunset, the nighttime activities started to set up for the final curtain call of the night. A Journey tribute band took to the stage for the stage’s final performance of the day. Once the band had finished their set, Hangar 24 treated all present guests to a wonderful nighttime fireworks show courtesy of pilot Bob Carlton.
As a friendly note to all other beer fest organizers, you have met your match. All things considered, Hangar 24′s AirFest could easily win the title of the best beer fest on the west coast. A combination of all small details contributed to the greater success of this event. First off, guests could park for free, and could reenter the venue. This alone can sway hesitant minds towards purchasing a ticket to attend. With such a large area to cover, guests did not have to wait in long lines to receive beer tickets or beer pours. As I entered the fest, the immediate ticket booth had a long line, but as I explored further into the area, I discovered more ticket booths with no line at all. Unlike the standard beer fest with tribute bands as the only form of entertainment, AirFest brought varied forms of entertainment, especially with the air shows and local bands playing their own original music. Most importantly of all, the people made this fest a grand event. From the amicable attendees to the sociable staff, the general aura of goodwill in the air placed everyone in a good mood that bounced from person to person.
Cheers to Hangar 24 – you have exhibited accomplishments, bountifulness, craftsmanship, dominance, and expertise in the craft beer industry with just one event. May your company live long, and may your brews satisfy many souls.