food hawaii

Hawaiian Beer

Hawaiian Beer
There’s nothing like a cold beer on a hot Hawaiian day

A taste for fermented beverages seems to be part of the human condition, and it’s no different in Hawai’i. Ever since early Polynesian settlers brought ‘awa (called kawa in other South Pacific regions) root with them to Hawai’i from Tahiti, imbibing intoxicating beverages has been a part of Hawaiian medicinal, religious and recreational heritage.

Where The Locals Go

Meanwhile, beer-drinking among Hawaii’s general population has been elevated from a macho activity to a connoisseur art form. The establishment of microbreweries and the introduction of imported microbrews have brought a fantastic selection of labels to the Islands. Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant at Aloha Tower Marketplace, for example, is an upscale waterfront brewpub with a popular outdoor bar featuring live bands. Gordon Biersch offers an ever-changing menu of seasonal beers and its own three beers brewed on the spot.

Ali‘i Brewing Company is a microbrewery sans pub in Kalihi, O‘ahu, that produces 12 beers, three of which are sold in retail outlets in 22-ounce bottles. Alii’s labels can be found in most major supermarkets and liquor stores.

Other local microbreweries include Kona Brewing Company, Hawaiian Brewing Company, Maui Beer Company, and Da Maui Brewer.

Brewing beer in Hawaii with Kona Brewing Company. Video by Owen Ogletree

Ryan’s at The Ward Centre in Honolulu is known for having one of the largest beer selections in Honolulu. They offer dozens of beers from all over the world. Among its 12 draughts on tap are three from the Pacific Northwest: Pyramid, Thos. Kemper and Rogue.

Home Brewing Community

Not satisfied with the array of brews available commercially, people in Hawai’i enthusiastically took up the home brewing fad. The Hawaiian Homebrewers Association, founded in 1993 to promote the appreciation of beer and brewing, boasts 800-plus members. It is involved in lobbying the State Legislature to enable small breweries to sell beer from restaurants and brewpubs and to bring the state’s microbrew scene up to par with brewing-friendly states such as California and Oregon.

Ingredients to make your own beer
Ingredients to make your own beer

As people have discovered over the centuries, appreciation of fine brews is a universal communication tool, binding and bonding diverse cultures in the time-honored camaraderie of getting high and feeling good.