Hamilton Family Brewery – Brewery Review

Hamilton Family Brewery, located in Cucamonga, California

Jetlag leads to Hamilton Family Brewery
Traveling for work can be a drag. It’s even worse when you have to leave your house at 4:25am on the east coast to make a noon meeting on the west coast. You quickly learn that there can be more than 24 hours in a day. It’s exhausting.

Nothing makes an agonizingly long day worthwhile like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that is the local craft brewery. On this particular day, after spending 11 hours in airports, 3 hours in client meetings, and 4 hours in cars, I finally found myself settled into my hotel in the booming metropolis of Ontario, California. I needed some refreshments so I took to the pinnacle of human achievement, the World Wide Web, in search of the local (craft) watering hole.

Hamilton Family Brewery is located in an industrial park in Rancho Cucamonga, California, just a few miles down the road from my hotel. Since it had been a long day I knew I’d need some food to go along with my beers so I grabbed a giant sandwich from a local restaurant just a few hundred feet from the brewery (Hamilton doesn’t serve its own food but welcomes visitors to bring their own) and settled in for my 4-beer tasting.

The first thing you need to know about the tasting room is that it is perfectly un-glamorous. Maybe it’s just me but if I walk into a brewery’s tasting room that is finely appointed with leather seats, overhead chandeliers, and white linen tablecloths I assume they are trying to make up for the sub-par beers. Hamilton has picnic tables and benches designed to make you beer tasting communal. The walls are adorned with large copies at the art that represents each beer. Board games are available to bring to your table and play while you enjoy your beverage.

I made my way to the bar to purchase my 4-beer tasting. There were a couple of IPAs on the list that I had to avoid (you don’t know me yet but you should know that I hate IPAs) but the tap list was robust so I had no trouble filling out me tasting. The bartender was friendly and helpful in describing the beers. On another day I may have chatted but after my day I just wanted to be left alone to my beer and my sandwich.


Hunger overtook my thirst and I had consumed half my sandwich before a drop of malty nectar touched my lips. My growling tummy (how cute am I saying tummy?) was finally satiated so it was time to get down to the real business; imbibing the greatest beverage known to man. Time for a recap.

Gold Rush – If you’re reading this blog than I’m sure you are an Untappd user. Well Gold RushUntappd lists this as a pale ale. The big board at Hamilton Family Brewery lists this beer as a blonde ale. Since Hamilton brewed the thing I’m pretty sure they would know better. This beer is smooth and light. It was nearly 100 degrees outside in Rancho Cucamonga, CA and this beer was meant for this weather. If you have a friend that loves Bud Light and you are dying to get them to drink some good beer I suggest you serve them a Hamilton Family Brewery Gold Rush. They will never go back. At 5.2% ABV it would be easy to drink all day long I gave this beer 4.25 out of 5 stars.

Brethren Brown Ale – I love brown ales. On my wedding day we served a brown ale. If I ever have a chance I always drink a brown ale. It doesn’t seem like many craft brewers make a good brown ale. Maybe because it isn’t easy to manipulate a brown ale to produce different flavors. I’m fine with that. Not everything has to be different it just has to be good. Just ask New Belgium Brewing Company. They tried making something fancy when they did collaboration with Ben & Jerry’s to create the Salted Caramel Brownie Ale. Even with all the fancy collaboration and salted caramel brownie in the name they ended up making delicious brown ale. It wasn’t fancy like the name but it was still delicious.

Hamilton Family Brewery did a noble job in brewing a decent brown ale. The low IBUs (only 20 per the big board) gave the promise of a deep malty flavor. It wasn’t as malty as I would have liked to it feel just a little flat but it was still a decent beer. The fact that while I was drinking this beer I witnessed a blind date in progress at the table next to me made it taste a bit better. It’s nice to have entertainment while enjoying a tasting. I gave this 6.5% ABV offering 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Watermelon Blonde – Summer beer brewing is the season to throw a bunch of fruitWatermelon Blonde into your beer and see what tastes good. I know some people who don’t like this and they strictly keep their fruit out of their beer. I’m not that guy. Experimentation is good. Adventure is good. Why wouldn’t you want to take two things that are delicious and put them together?

I love watermelon. In my single days (I’m an old married man now) I was known to simply cut open a watermelon and devour the whole thing in a single sitting, calling it dinner. I also knew that Hamilton Family made a tasty blonde ale seeing as I had consumed it approximately 12 minutes before drinking this beer. So why not throw the two of them together.

Well they did and it worked. The watermelon makes this great. The beer was so crisp and refreshing when it’s hot outside. Just as those spicy ales that are perfect for the winter months to celebrate Christmas, this watermelon beer was perfect to celebrate the debilitating heat that summer can bring. At 5% ABV and 21 IBUs this beer can be consumed all day long. I rated it 4 out of 5 stars.

Midnight Oil – As I approached my last beer in my tasting rack I had consumed myMidnight Oil entire massive sandwich and a sack full of french fries. I was in that happy state of mind that a full gullet and a few tastes of beer will always lead. I needed a way to finish up the meal with class and style.

You know how at some higher end restaurants they always offer an after dinner coffee with dessert? Usually when this happens it is later in the evening and who would want to drink coffee before heading home to hit the sack. I propose we replace the typical after dinner coffee with an after dinner beer. This beer. The Midnight Oil from Hamilton Family Brewery.

This beer tasted like drinking a black coffee and that is a good thing. The pour was as black as a thousand midnights. The 8.0% ABV is the perfect level to get you to that level of relaxation without blowing your mind. Forget coffee and grab a Midnight Oil to go with your cheesecake. A solid 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Finally, with my body full of delicious food and beverage, the stress and strain of the day had finally melted away. Hamilton Family Brewery had become my home away from home, even if just for a few hours. The casual atmosphere allowed me to relax, enjoy my meal, watch some TV, and taste some delicious brews. I didn’t want to leave but alas jet lag is a powerful mistress. I could barely keep my eyes open (from exhaustion not from inebriation) so I made my way out to my rental car. That’s when a moment of clarity struck. I had a fridge in my hotel room and a week of nights to fill.

I turned and made my way back into the brewery. Did I mention they have Crowlerscrowlers? Well, Hamilton Family Brewery has crowlers which is a glorious invention. I grabbed a 32oz Watermelon Blonde to have on hand for when the inevitable stress of business travel would lead me to have a beer alone in my hotel room. It almost lasted 24 hours. What can I say? Hamilton Family Brewery makes a good beer.

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Wes Clark
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Wes Clark

Certified Public Accountant by day. Spreader of uselessness and general beer nerd by night. If I'm not drinking beer or writing about beer you can probably find me hanging out with my wife and kid, trying to cook something new, watching a cheesy action movie, or at the local theatre.
Wes Clark
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