Did you think Hawaiʻi missed the craft brew wave? No way. In the islands, microbreweries take beer to the tropical level.
Text by Kelli Gratz
Images by Jonas Maon and John Hook
Though youngest on the list, this Honolulu brewery has made quite the entrance since Geoffrey Seidman and his wife, Charmayne, opened it in 2014. Already, the duo has created some of the city’s most exciting beers—take, for example, the honey citrus saison Pia Mahi‘ai, which beer fans consume as fast as Beerworks can brew it. “We did that one in a collaboration with Kamehameha Schools using local produce,” Geoffrey says. “Now it’s one of our bestsellers.” Featuring local orange, tangerine, lemon, lemongrass, and Big Island honey, the farmhouse ale is slightly sweet, with a touch of coriander for a little kick.
Inside the Beerworks custom-built seven-barrel brew house in industrial Kaka‘ako, ale enthusiasts delight in creations like the Pia Mahi‘ai or the Makakilo Brown Ale; fun one-offs like the Incinerator Doppelbock, a deep amber beer; and single-hop brews like the Surf Session Single Hop IPA. (Where most beers are made with a mix of hops, single-hop beers use one variety of hop, allowing imbibers to understand its subtleties.) Not yet distributed outside of the brewery’s walls, these craft beers are best enjoyed on tap in the 3,200-square-foot space or on Beerworks’ lanai alongside signature food items like beer-braised pork and beef meatballs, Italian hoagies, and bratwursts. Soon to be offered are tours of the microbrewery, during which one will learn the ins and outs of fermentation and sample the goods.
Honolulu Beerworks is located in Honolulu at 328 Cooke St. For more information, visit honolulubeerworks.com.
Maui Brewing Co.
Maui Brewing Co. earned the title of largest brewery in the state in the end of December 2014 with the completion of its bigger and better brewery in Kīhei. More barrels means even more special releases, and 40-minute tours at the location introduce visitors to flagship brews like the Bikini Blonde lager, Mana Wheat, Big Swell IPA, and Coconut Porter. Hang out at the popular tasting room and enjoy happy hour specials, food trucks on-site daily, and games like giant Jenga and life-sized Connect Four. If you can’t make it to the Kīhei brewery, you can still stop in at Maui Brewing Co.’s brewpub in Lāhainā for beers and a meal, or grab a six pack from a grocery store near you. The company not only aspires to creates the perfect brew, but also incorporate eco-friendly practices whenever possible, from running vehicles on biodiesel and harnessing solar power to giving spent grain to farmers for feed and compost.
Maui Brewing Co. brewery, which offers tours daily, is located in Kīhei at 605 Lipoa Pkwy. Its brewpub is located in Lāhainā at 4405 Honoapiilani Hwy. #217. For more information, visit mauibrewingco.com.
Kauai Island Brewery and Grill
On the craft brew scene since 2012, Kauai Island Brewery and Grill is constantly expanding its roster of ales. Today, this includes the Fonz IPAAAAAY, a golden IPA brewed with 60 pounds of fresh taro. The company has more than a dozen unique brews. To see where it all happens, visit its establishment, the westernmost brewery in the United States, at the Port Allen Marina Center. Try the local favorite, the Lilikoi Ale, a light golden ale with a tangy passionfruit flavor, and the Captain Cook’s IPA, inspired by the hoppy ales brewed in the 1700s. Then, take some grog home in a growler to go. Or, tell the bartender you want a taste of everything and enjoy a sampler set with 5-ounce pours of house beers or any draft beer on tap.
Kauai Island Brewery and Grill is located in Port Allen Marina Center at 4350 Waialo Rd. For more information, visit kauaiislandbrewing.com.
Big Island Brewhaus
For anyone interested in a “virtual world of beers,” this Waimea-based 10-barrel brewery pumps out a diverse array of lagers, pilsners, stouts, porters, cream ales, pale ales, and IPAs (which all have excellent food pairings). The company, owned by Thomas Kerns, began as a home-brewing project and now stands as an award-winning brewery with a growing bottle lineup distributed throughout the state. Kerns originally managed the well-known Maui Brewing Co. before he and his wife, Jayne, bought the Tako Taco Taqueria restaurant in 2008, where Big Island Brewhaus sits today. Their steady rotation of 15 beers and limited runs draws visitors from the around the world. Top choices are the Overboard IPA; the White Mountain Porter, a coconut and coffee porter with hints of rich and silky malt and chocolate; and the Red Giant, a dark caramel malt ale. Make a day trip to the brewery, or plan a pit stop on your way back from spectacular Waipio Valley.
Big Island Brewhaus is located in Waimea at 64-1066 Mamalahoa Hwy. For more information, visit bigislandbrewhaus.com.