Craft Beer in Paradise

By Timothy Golden
Photo:  Beer Lab HI.

Photo: Beer Lab HI.

Vacationing to Hawaiʻi? Love craft beer? If you answered yes, then you’re in luck because Hawaiʻi’s craft brewing scene is full of amazing breweries producing world-class beers. With over 10 breweries operating on four islands, Hawaiʻi is truly a craft beer paradise. Sun, sand and freshly brewed beer…it doesn’t get much better than that!

Much like the rest of the country, Hawaiʻi’s craft brewing scene has exploded over the past 10 years with new breweries opening up on Oahu, Maui, Hawaiʻi (the Big Island) and Kauaʻi. There are multiple breweries on each island so if you’re trip only includes staying on one island you’ll be sure to have a few options. If you plan on island hopping, make sure you find time to swing by a brewery on each island as part of your adventures. Many of the beers made by our local breweries can only be found at the breweries so you’ll be sure to taste something rare and special.

Oʻahu –

Honolulu Beerworks – 328 Cooke St, Honolulu, HI 96813

A short drive from Waikiki you’ll find Honolulu Beerworks, an awesome brew pub with 10 house beers always on draft. The open warehouse building has the perfect atmosphere to pull up a chair and kick back with a cold beer. Be sure to try Pai Mahiai, a Belgian style farmhouse ale brewed with locally grown lemongrass, limes, lemons, tangerines, oranges and Big Island honey. You can only find these beers in the brew pub so don’t skip visiting HBW.

Waikiki Brewing Company – 1945 Kalākaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815

This open and airy brew pub located right in the heart of Waikiki brews up delicious and thirst quenching beers. Grab a seat at the bar to get a close up look right into the brewery and maybe even watch the brewmasters brew up a batch of beer. The Hana Hou Hefe is a bright and refreshing wheat ale perfect for those hot beach days. If you’re a little more adventurous don’t miss trying the Jalapeno Mouth Amber Ale. Brewed with fresh jalapeno chillies, this beer packs a wonderful spicy punch.

Lanikai Brewing Company – 175 Hāmākua Dr, Kailua, HI 96734

If you’re planning a trip to the world famous Lanikai Beach, then you’ll want to stop off at Lanikai Brewing Company before hand to stock up on some beer. At the small tasting room you can get samples of their two flagship beers, 808 Imperial IPA brewed with local pikake flowers and Pillbox Porter, a wonderfully rich and chocolaty porter infused with both Hawaiian and Tahitian vanilla. You can also taste some of their brewery only releases, which rotate every 4 weeks. Pick up a few bottles or fill a growler to go.

Stewbum & Stonewall Brewing – Available at Lulu’s Waikiki and Cheeseburger Waikiki

Photo: WiseTim.

This uber tiny brewery produces roughly 10 kegs at a time and can only be found at two bars in Waikiki. The brewery itself is closed to the public so if you want a taste of Hawaii’s smallest brewery head to one of these Waikīkī restaurants.

Gordon Biersch Brewery and Restaurant – 1 Aloha Tower Drive Suite 1123, Honolulu, HI 96813

Photo:  Stephen Rees.

Photo: Stephen Rees.

Aloha Tower has been a landmark in Honolulu for over a century and it is also home to Hawaii’s very first brewpub. The newly renovated Aloha Tower Marketplace is home to Gordon Biersch Brewery and Restaurant. Yes, this is the same Gordon Biersch you can find all over the mainland, but the Honolulu location has been brewing beers in Hawaii for over 20 years and the views of Honolulu harbor are spectacular. You’ll find the regular GB staples like the award winning Marzen and Cezch Pilsner, but you’ll also be surprised to find some non-German beer styles at the Honolulu pub. The American IPA is outstanding, with a big citrus and pine nose, while the recently released Coconut Stout is a sweet decedent treat!

Beer Lab HI – 1010 University Ave., Honolulu, HI 96826

Photo:  Beer Lab HI.

Photo: Beer Lab HI.

Check out this new brewery and tasting room that opened in early 2016!

Oʻahu Nano Breweries

Taps & Apps – The Gateway at Mililani Mauka, 95-1830 Meheula Pkwy Suite C6, Mililani Town, Hawaii
Home of the Brave Brewing Company – 901 & 909 Waimanu Street, Honolulu, HI 96814

Maui –

Maui Brewing Company – 605 Lipoa Pkwy, Kīhei, HI 96753 and 4405 Honoapiilani Hwy, Lahaina, HI 96761

No trip to Maui is complete without a visit to Maui Brewing Company’s brand new facility in Kihei. Make reservations ahead of time for a brewery tour and then relax at the tasting room and sample some island only specialty beers like Double Overhead DIPA, Pau Hana Pilsner and the decedent coffee infused Doppel Shot Double Bock. If you’re headed towards Kapalua, then you can stop off at the brewpub in the Kahana Gateway Center for delicious beer infused and locally sourced pub food.

Koholā Brewing Company – 910 Honoapiilani Hwy, Lahaina, HI 96761
Untitled design
A new brewery in the former Maui Brewing Company space in Lahaina. The brewery will feature a large bar and tasting room.  Koholā means whale in Hawaiian, and their catch phrase is, “Help us save the whales, one beer at a time!”

Hawaiʻi –

Kona Brewing Company – 74-5612 Pawai Place, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740

Hawaiʻi Island is really big, but lucky for beer lovers there are 3 breweries on the island! A stop at the original Kona Brewing Brewery & Pub is a must on any trip to the Big Island. Reserve a spot for a full brewery tour before heading into the pub to sample a slew of beers you can only find in Hawaiʻi. If it’s a hot day, don’t pass up Wailua Wheat, a refreshing wheat ale with a wonderfully tart accent of lilikoi or passion fruit. The tropical flavors and aroma are Hawaiʻi in a glass!

Big Island Brewhaus – 64-1066 Māmalahoa Hwy, Waimea, HI 96743

Photo:  Big Island Brewhaus.

Photo: Big Island Brewhaus.

If you’re driving between Hilo and Kona, then you’ll want to make sure you stop in beautiful Waimea town and visit Big Island Brewhaus. This tiny brewpub, located at 2,764 feet above sea level, consistently wins awards for their tasty beers. You can only find their beers in the state of Hawaiʻi, so don’t miss trying the luscious White Mountain Porter. A rich, chocolatey porter infused with hand-toasted coconut and locally farmed coffee.

Mehana & Hawaii Nui Brewing – 275 E Kawili St, Hilo, HI 96720

Photo:  Hawaii Nui Brewing Company. #HawaiiNuiBrewing

Photo: Hawaii Nui Brewing Company. #HawaiiNuiBrewing

Two brands from one brewery located right in Hilo town. Visit the tasting room to taste beers from both brands and pick up a 6 pack of cans or fill a growler to go. Both Mehana and Hawaii Nui can only be found in state, so don’t miss trying them. Hawaii Nui’s Southern Cross is a standout. The Belgian style red ale is rich, malty with note of toffee and a clean dry finish.

Kauaʻi –

Kauai Beer Company – 4265 Rice St, Līhue, HI 96766

Photo:  Kauai Beer Co.

Photo: Kauai Beer Co.

Located in the heart of Līhue, Kauai Beer Company has a great pub with island only beers. You won’t be able to find these beers anywhere else on island so fill up a growler to take back to your hotel. The Black Limousine may look dark and heavy, but it’s got wonderful light body and soft roasted grain flavor. It’s a darker beer you can drink in the Hawaiian heat!

Kauai Island Brewing Company – 4350 Waialo Rd, ʻEleʻele, HI 96705

If you’re staying on the South side of Kauaʻi, then you’ll want to swing by Kauai Island Brewing in Port Allen. Brewmaster Dave Curry has been brewing on Kauaʻi for over a decade and the lively pub is a great place to grab a great meal with an excellent Kauaʻi only beer. Captain Cook’s IPA and Cane Fire Red are local favorites!

Tim Golden shares his obsession with all things craft beer. See his blog, “Beer in Hawaii,” at

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