Driving west along Interstate 10 on my way from a stay in Yucca Valley I’ve already planned to visit Ohana Brewing. I remember reading about one of the country’s youngest brewery owners, a fellow named Andrew Luthi, who at 26 is the sole shareholder in the company. I want to see what this is all about. The brewery is in Alhambra and I begin racking my brain for places to eat nearby. Bingo—isn’t that just north of Monterey Park, the greatest place to sample authentic Chinese cuisines in Southern California? I ask my traveling companion to look it up and he says there are about 80 Chinese restaurants in Alhambra. We make a pre-brewery food stop at Tasty Dumpling House and fill our bellies with Northern styled boiled dumplings and celery and dried fungus salad. Then off to nearby Ohana.
Ohana was brewing beer locally for a couple years until opening the tasting room in April, 2014. The owner, Andrew, greets us at the door and wryly asks us if we’d like to drink some beer. Why, yes, of course, mais oui, I WILL have some beer, thank you. With a burgeoning street and nightlife scene, Alhambra has some tight brewery licensing laws. Guests can order four (4 oz) tasters per person at the tasting room. Growler fills are available to take home as are $10 bombers of Saison Noir, a type of Belgian Quad. I’ve already made mental notes to take one home for reference and review.
I order and sample the Makin’ Moves IPA, a very suitable dose of West Coast bitter with Warrior, Columbus, and Zythos hops. Then a Hollenbeck Amber. Acorn Ambition is the coffee infused version of the Hollenbeck. And, finally, a delightful Flanders-styled sour Oud Bruin, Surf Shack, conditioned with Lactobacillus, Brettanomyces and other wild yeasts.
Looking around the tasting room, there is a very satisfied, relaxed crowd inside. The clientele is young and reflects the neighborhood. For locals, I’d guess this might be a weekly stop in their downtown jaunts. The room is open 7 days a week and is a charming landing pad for exploring the Chinese, Korean, Indonesian, and other restaurants in the area. There are plentiful nearby coffee houses, cigar lounges, and bars, one of which, 38 Degree Ale House, is next door and filled with craft beer.
Chatting with the owner, I find him amiable, proud, and studied all at once. He explains that “Ohana” means family in Hawaii and that it took all his family and friends to get him up and running. He hopes to garner less restrictive licensing that would allow patrons to sample more of his brewery’s beer. I secretly like the four taster sampling that allows me to feel more room for other pursuits in the day. This is the kind of facility I want to stop in, enjoy a beer breather, and move on to dinner or that cigar. Maybe having some more beer available to take home in bottles would extend the pleasant memories.
Ohana is a winner out of the gate. Hopefully, they’ll keep the beer portfolio in solid rotation, refine their craft even more, and as the crowds build, perhaps seek a larger space. Make a trip to Alhambra and join this beer family. You’ll not be disappointed.