"A lot of people hadn't really heard of us at the time," he said. "People were like 'Are you another one of those breweries opening up everywhere?' But once we said we were one of two craft breweries that got invited to pour at Angel Stadium, they were like 'oh really?' Their whole mindset would change."
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Hangar 24 is named after the hangar at a local airport where Cook, a licensed pilot, and his friends would relax after a day of flying. The group would talk aviation, play music and often drink Cook's home-brewed beer.
Eventually, Cook turned his passion for home brewing into his first real job in the industry, working with Anheuser-Busch in quality control.
"It's not necessarily the type of beer I would drink, but it's some of the highest quality beer in the world," he said. "They spend a disproportionate amount of money on quality and one of the things I learned from them is how to pay attention to detail. They didn't just pay attention to the quality of the beer, they pay attention to the quality of everything."
Wanting to learn more, Cook went to the University of California-Davis, where he graduated from the Master Brewers program. Upon graduation, Cook officially dropped the home brewer title and founded Hangar 24.
Now, nearly five years after its creation, the business is starting to take flight. It's grown to 100 employees and recently increased its distribution reach to the San Francisco Bay area, its largest expansion to date. Cook expects the growth to continue in 2013.
"In the next few months, we hope to have the rest of the state of California filled out and start expanding into Nevada and Arizona within the next 6 months," he said.
To keep up with demand, Hangar 24 is in the process of expanding its facility to increase its annual brewing capacity from its current 35,000 barrels and hopes to reach 100,000 barrels by 2015. As part of the expansion, the brewery is redesigning its tasting room, hoping to turn it into a destination for locals and tourists alike. No matter how large the company grows, Cook said the focus will always be the place in which it was founded.
"We really see ourselves as a community member and we don't just try and sell people something. We say 'Hey come join us in our passion.'" He continued, "I love when I hear one of our customers say 'our' brewery. That means we're doing a good job when I hear that."
By CNBC's Tom Rotunno; Follow him on Twitter @TomRotunno
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