Hop Hunting in Alhambra & El Monte
Last Saturday afternoon, Mack, our buddy Kenny, and I jumped in my car and hit the open road in search of hoppy pastures. On this particular day, that meant the far off lands of Alhambra and El Monte, located in the heart of the San Gabriel Valley.
But this wasn’t just some random excursion. This was a journey to the fabled taps of 38 Degrees Ale House, a hop haven located right on Main St. in downtown Alhambra. Not only that, but Ohana Brewing had just opened their brand new tasting room RIGHT NEXT DOOR to 38 Degrees, and Progress Brewing was a mere 12 minute drive away. Were the beer gods smiling down upon us that day? You bet your ass they were.
We got to 38 Degrees and verified what Tap Hunter had told us on the way there: Alpine Nelson, a delicious Golden Rye IPA out of the San Diego mountains, was locked and loaded. After living in San Diego for 7 years, this was not my first experience with Nelson. But Nelson is a rare sight outside of San Diego, and Mack had been chomping at the bit for a taste of this whale. Luckily, Alpine’s partnership with Green Flash from last year means that they’re finally able to get their hoppy treats a little further north.
The hoppy goodness didn’t stop with Nelson though. We had to switch to tasters in order to accommodate all of the awesome hop bombs they had on tap – Stone’s Enjoy By, Avery’s Maharaja, Beachwood’s Hop Ninja, and Russian River’s Pliny the Elder and Blind Pig were among some of the highlights. Needless to say, our palates took quite a beating from that hop fury.
After getting properly hopped up and putting some food in our bellies, we made the 30 second trek to Ohana Brewing’s 3-week-old tasting room. Pretty nondescript little spot, but the beers were flowing and they had free pretzels for National Pretzel Day, so we were stoked. I grabbed myself a taster set and sampled their super solid Double IPA, Rhino’s Redemption, a couple of really unique Saisons, and a brown ale called Acorn Ambition, which was infused with cold brew coffee from Secret Squirrel in Studio City. For a relatively young brewery, Ohana has some awesome beers pouring right now and I expect big things from them in the future.
After a short break, we hopped back in the car and headed to South El Monte, where Progress Brewing had set up shop earlier this year. We sort of expected the taproom to be a quiet scene, not sure how receptive the El Monte community was to craft beer, but we were pleasantly surprised to walk into a small tasting room full of energy. There were a handful of enthusiastic bartenders talking shop and pouring beers, and groups of people hanging out and quaffing the 8 different brews Progress was serving up that day.
So I did what any craft beer lover at a new brewery would do. I ordered myself up a 8 taster set and got to trying what Progress had to offer. Now I’m not gonna lie, at this point I was pretty buzzed, so getting through each taster was a bit of a challenge, but I have to say Progress has a super solid initial offering here. As you already know, I’m a Hop Head at heart, so I naturally gravitated to their Calvalry Double IPA, but I was also really impressed by their Alamo Cream Ale. All in all, an awesome little brewery that I definitely recommend stopping by if you’re near the area.
Well, that was certainly an adventure! 10 full pours and 28 tasters later, we had Alhambra & El Monte in the books, and I already can’t wait until my next visit.