Fantasy Islands

Hawaii grants your wish: great craft beer.

513edea2ec7afCold enough out there for ya? Maybe it’s time to cash in those vacation days early and head for the Hawaiian Islands, which teem with sun-starved tourists every winter.

We did. And in addition to the blessed rays, we found out something delicious: it’s time to move over, Mai-Tai. Modern-style craft beer is gaining ground on Hawaii’s sandy shores. Craft beer is a relative newcomer here. For ages, the Hawaiian Islands’ local beer was an inexpensive, cane-sugar-added lager called Primo, launched in 1898 and presently contract brewed on the mainland by Pabst.

Big Island Brewhaus, a fast-growing and wildly popular brewery started by world-class brewmaster Tom Kerns, is producing award-winning brews like Overboard IPA, White Mountain Porter, and Golden Sabbath, a Belgian-style ale brewed with Hawaiian honey. More than a dozen other companies are brewing across the islands of the Aloha State, with several projects on deck. And at the same time, the selection of coveted imports from Belgium, and various super sought-after small batch craft beers from the mainland has expanded drastically, some of it delivered via temperature-controlled shipping containers. Good beer blogs are popping up, like this one, Beer In Hawaii. In short, serious beer culture is settling into the islands.

At the center of this tasty tempest is Troy Terorotua, former beer buyer of Whole Foods Kahala (Oahu) whose REAL: A Gastropub packs in a growing cadre of beer geeks nightly with one of the best beer menus we’ve seen—anywhere, and not just in the islands. Every single server has the level one Cicerone Certification, and the food is very, very tasty (try the beer-braised brisket poutine). With an annual beer fest launched in July and a new venture coming up for the up-and-coming Kaimuki neighborhood, Terorotua is helping shape Honolulu’s beer scene along the lines of San Diego and San Francisco. We can’t resist: Shaka, brew!

Have you tried local beer in Hawaii? What was your favorite? Tell us below.

And read on for a starter list of ten spots to find great craft beer in the Aloha State.

BIG ISLAND BREWHAUS - Waimea, Hawaii (The Big Island)
MAUI BREWING CO. - Lahaina, Maui
KAUAI BEER CO. - Lihue, Kauai
KONA BREWING CO. - Kailua-Kona, Hawaii (The Big Island)

Specialty/Craft Beer Bars
BREW'D CRAFTPUB - Honolulu, Oahu
REAL: A GASTROPUB - Honolulu, Oahu
PINT & JIGGER - Honolulu, Oahu
HUMPY’S BIG ISLAND ALEHOUSE - Kailua-Kona, Hawaii (The Big Island)

Beer-friendly Bars & Restaurants
TOWN - Kaimuki, Honolulu, Oahu
BAR 35 - Honolulu, Oahu

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