The Big Two
In my mind, there are two companies that are the biggest local breweries in Hawaii and are the go to ones when I feel like having some beer with local flair. All of their different offerings are unique to Hawaii and they incorporate local influences in anyway they can.
But there are also a few smaller breweries that do just as good of a job, just not quite on the same scale.
Kona Brewing Company is arguably the most recognized and well known Hawaii beer. For one, they do a great job packaging their product. Their bottle design is simple and has a nice feel when you hold it in your hand, but the colors and artwork they use are uniquely Hawaiian. A few years ago, the bottle underwent a full redesign and has been branded to emphasize the company’s values. My most favorite aspect is that every bottle is now embossed with their slogan “Liquid Aloha”.
They’ve also taken initiatives on the sustainability forefront and are totally committed to reducing their carbon footprint; they even collect the evaporated water back into whiskey barrels, and then it’s used for landscape irrigation. They also offer support and donations to many local and national charities, and sponsor sporting events around the islands.
I may be biased because I’m from Maui, but the Maui Brewing company is a home-grown brewery and have become quite the Maui institution. Maui Brewing Co. prides itself as a “truly Hawaiian brewery,” leaving nothing to waste. Beers are packaged with eco-friendly materials that are manufactured on Oahu and designed by local Maui artists. The cans have the added bonus of better protection of the beer from light and oxygen damage, which are both are known to compromise the taste. And finally, a unique recyclable plastic carrying device is used to hold the cans, with the spent grain from beer production donated to local ranchers for cattle feed and composting.
Maybe not as big as they once were, but Primo brewing deserves a mention for its recognition as “Hawaii’s original beer” as they were founded in 1897. Primo Lager sold in Hawaii is produced on the island of on Kauai at the Keoki Brewing Company which still adds sugar cane to each batch.
Portions of the island based proceeds go to the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation and toward preserving Hawaiian culture, land, and heritage.
Craft Brew Crew
Aloha Beer Company is a locally owned and operated brewery with beer brewed on Oahu. The company was founded by Steve Sombrero and Dave Campbell as the Brewmaster. Aloha Beer Company is committed to the future of craft brewing in Hawai’i, with roots in the traditions of the past. The company originally hit the scene in the Big Aloha/Sam Choy’s space on Nimitz Highway and has now moved on from its original location.
Aloha Beer embodies the classic Hawaiian lifestyle with the generous spirit of Aloha as a namesake, their brews combine the smooth balance of ohana with the refreshing, hang-loose attitude of a Sunday barbecue.
Big Island Brewhaus
Big Island Brewhaus is Hawaii’s Highest Brewpub at 2,764 feet above the sea! They aim to create and serve locally sourced, fresh, handcrafted, and delicious beers. Their mission is to keep it small on the Big Island which aims to help sustain our beautiful island & world! They have the honor of being certified by the Surfrider Foundation as a Platinum Level Ocean Friendly Restaurant and to be the 2nd Blue Zone Approved restaurant on the Big Island.
They offer a virtual world of beers: lagers, pilsners, porters, stouts, bocks, crème ales, Belgians and of course pale ales and IPAs. Their most recent accolades include: a silver medal for White Mountain Porter in the 2016 U.S. Open Beer Championships, Men’s Journal’s included Overboard IPA in their list of “101 Best Beers in America” and were included in Food & Wine’s January 2016 issue as one of their “20 Reasons to Love Hawaii Now”.
Hawaiʻi Nui Brewing Company is a local brewery operating out Hilo on the Big Island. It was established in 2007, where it then acquired Keoki Brewing Company in May of the same year. At Hawai’i Nui Brewing, they are passionate about craft beer. Brewing in small batches allows them to incorporate all-natural ales and lagers from the finest barley malt, wheat, hops and yeast. Their uniquely well balanced Island Style beer is perfect for your time in Paradise!
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