Beer Tripping – Honolulu, HI
Pam and I were recently in Honolulu over the holidays with the family. Between the sun, surf, luaus (trust me – this is the only luau to select), and epic vistas, we managed to break away for an afternoon to sample what Honolulu offers for craft beer. During our trip, we hit several key spots and were able to try some other local options at some area craft beer bars. So, keep reading for our take on Maui Brewing (Waikiki Taproom), Waikiki Brewing, Honolulu Beerworks, Aloha Beer Company, Hana Koa Brewing, Off the Wall Beer Bar and Village Bottle Shop, and Tasting Room.
This was easily my favorite brewery in town. It’s relatively new, but they hit it out of the park. The taproom is modern and cool with a second-floor event space. The staff was friendly and fun. The OB was my beer of choice, but the Window to Eraclea was also fantastic, along with some extremely interesting stouts and porters. Consider this a must-visit when in Honolulu.
Waikiki Brewing (the location in Waikiki) was the closest brewery to our hotel. So, we stopped in several times, of course. Great food, a giant outdoor patio, and a massive wraparound bar were some of the key awesome features of my second favorite Honolulu brewery. I would personally recommend Eeh Pah IPA and the Mahi Mahi, both were exactly what I needed on our first visit here.
Honolulu Beerworks was another amazing spot on our tour of Honolulu Breweries. Located in a warehouse in the Kaka’ako area of town, this is one of the older breweries in Honolulu. The Cryo Dub Trip Double IPA was a standout beer. This brewery has more of a local feel and you can tell that many of the patrons are loyal regulars.
Aloha Beer Company came highly recommended by some friends that have spent a lot of time in Hawai’i. However, our visit was in the middle of what was a fairly intense windstorm. So, keeping my beer on the table took priority over enjoyment for this visit, unfortunately. It’s a laid-back outdoor-only space near high-end shopping and great restaurant and retail areas.
Maui is the most recognizable name on this list due to its broad distribution. This was easily the most incredible taproom we visited. It’s a 3rd-floor space with an additional roof area for events. It overlooks Kalākaua Ave and some of the top shopping and dining areas in Honolulu. They have 36 taps crossing the spectrum of styles. It was an interesting experience with a great view of Honolulu’s nightlife.
We were not able to make it to Beer Lab, which I have been told multiple times was a huge mistake, but we were able to try a couple of their offerings at Off the Wall Beer Bar. Off the Wall is your standard “Pour Your Own Beer by the Ounce” style bar and restaurant. Off the Wall is a hip restaurant in a rapidly growing part of town and Beer Lab specifically did not disappoint. Next trip, a visit to Beer Lab is top of the list.
Village Bottle Shop was a great place to find beer from around the islands (and around the country) to try things that you may not be able to get directly in Honolulu. When we were there it was bustling with locals and tourists and had a fun vibe and a large array of different personalities. They have at least 8 active taps at any time and several large cases of to-go options.
Hawaii is an amazingly stunning and interesting place with very friendly and warm people. However, here are a few key takeaways I will leave you with. Have plenty of money because “it ain’t cheap”. Be ready to be underwhelmed with the food in general. I learned that pretty much everything that isn’t a pineapple has to be imported. The wind and sun can be outright insane, so bring sunscreen (reef-friendly sunscreen) and wear a hat, I guess. And last and most relevant takeaway for this blog is the beer is hit or miss. There are some true gems, but let’s be honest, you aren’t heading to Hawaii for great craft beer, and, luckily for them, they have so much more to offer.