The industry is growing right before our eyes and new breweries are the benefits of this growth. Take a look around someday in your town/city/state/garage(!) and you might be shocked to see the amount of watering holes within your immediate proximity, and more often than not it is a local bloke that started it up. Such a hipster train of thought I know, “Buy local”, “Support the little guy” and all, but what’s wrong with that? This IS craft beer for hops sake.
Local beer in Hawaii consists of a handful of courageous brewers, making magic with whatever they can get their hands on. Kona Brewing Company is in my opinion the pioneering craft beer destination of the islands, however their affiliation with AB/InBev has put some people off of what is still a solid product with plans for more innovation of the craft in the very near future. If there are any doubts about their credibility then I suggest you get your lips around a vertical tasting of their Old Blowhole Barleywine as well as the barrel aged versions. The barrel aged Lavaman Red was a revelation too.
While Kona may be the pioneering craft brewery of the islands, the emerging powerhouse, Maui Brewing Company is becoming a force to be reckoned with. They typically release four brews for year round consumption with the occasional seasonal and collaboration gems. Their collabs with Jolly Pumpkin and Dogfish Head were among the best beers released that year. But they are persistently stingy with their beers when you consider that at their brew pub in Maui they have around 15-20 beers on tap, and they are delicious! Their recent joint venture with Stone Brewing Company, Maui-Stone Craft Beverages is the greatest news and best indication that the craft scene is changing for the better in Hawaii by getting once out-of-reach beers into my hands… I mean everyones hands.
The rest of the scene is perpetuated by the micro-breweries popping up here like Honolulu Beerworks, Kauai Island Brewery, Big Island Brewhaus and the catalyst for change which started with REAL, a Gastropub (no Heiny’s, Buds, or Coors here). These are my rays of hope for the future on these rocks in the middle of the Pacific, and I’m a sucker for hope…
So find a local brewery and give it a shot, cuz it might change your life.