Lanikai Brewing brings Oahu beer to wider audience
It’s always been a bit of a pet peeve for me to see people who care so much about supporting local businesses totally forget that mindset when buying a drink.
Don’t shop at a national chain supermarket, they say. Support local chefs and patronize restaurants that showcase ingredients sourced from the islands. Craft products are always better than something created for and marketed to the masses.
Yet ask them to bring some liquor to a party and what do you get? Green bottles. West coast wines. Whiskey from Kentucky — or even worse, sourced distillate that’s neither produced or bottled by the company that ultimately slaps a label on the front and tries to pass it off as high-end bourbon.
I’m not saying you have to choose a side in the craft-versus-macro argument and stick with it to the point of being annoying, like some of these people do. To me, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. I enjoy a post-midnight Jack in the Box run after a night out just as much as I like sitting down to an expensive meal at one of Honolulu’s top restaurants.
Give me a glass of 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle, William Larue Weller or Booker’s 25th Anniversary and I’ll be your best friend… for the next 15 or 20 minutes, at least. But ask those who drink with me and they’ll tell you I can get down with Jack, Jim and Johnnie in a pinch, too. (Jose, not so much.)
While I’m not as knowledgeable with wine as I’d like to be, I’ve found my palate tends to gravitate towards the more expensive stuff. However, thanks to people like Chuck Furuya — who knows way more than I can ever hope to know about wine — I’ve also discovered I enjoy a number of moderately priced bottles as well. I just need a little more help to find them than I do with beer or liquor.
When it comes to beer, I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a Bud Light fan. At the same time, I’ve bordered on evangelical at times with my support for Maui Brewing Co. and the amazing beers Garrett Marrero and his team produce. But as much as I enjoy buying their products off store shelves along with bottles from Big Island Brewhaus and cans from Mehana Brewing Co. and Hawaii Nui Brewing Co., I’ve waited quite a while for an Oahu-based brewery to get into the game.
That happened last year when Lanikai Brewing Co. officially opened its doors to the public and began selling bottles of its IPA and porter beers. As Oahu’s only production brewery that also has bottled product widely available in stores, not only can you pay a visit to its Hamakua Drive facility and fill up a growler with freshly brewed beer while enjoying a fantastic view of Kawainui-Hamakua Marsh out the back, but you can also grab a bottle at stores such as Whole Foods, Tamura’s, BevMart, Kalapawai Market and Diamond Head Market. Bottles are also on sale at the brewery, and nearly two dozen bars and restaurants on Oahu offer Lanikai brews on tap.
“I didn’t think we’d have anywhere near the amount of people who are such enthusiasts about our beers,” said Lanikai Brewing CEO and brewmaster Steve Haumschild. “The community has just been all about it, and they’ve honored us with enough business to allow us to keep doing this here.”
Haumschild came up with the Lanikai Brewing concept in 2012 when he and business partners Brandon Cody, Al Darling and Dan Frerich decided it was time to attempt a full-blown brewery. Construction on their Kailua facility began in 2014, with the first bottles hitting store shelves last March. They were also able to raise nearly $35,000 from 287 backers on Kickstarter, which allowed for the completion of a tasting room.
“The money helped build out the bar, the tasting room, build our keg inventory and add the taps,” explained Cody, who serves as Lanikai Brewing’s vice president of sales and marketing. “It gives us the ability to bring people in here and explain the beers, and we have a lot of people come in to do that.”
Learn more about the brewery, including details on how home brewers can get in on the beer-making action during a special fundraiser on Sunday, in this week’s “Barfly” column in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Subscribers can click here to read online.
Want to get a taste of Lanikai Brewing’s beer — including some of the limited edition Brewers Series beers normally available only at the Kailua brewery — without having to take a trip over the Koolau? Hula Grill Waikiki will host Hula Grill Digs Farmers, a farm-to-table dinner that pays tribute to Hawaii’s ranching and paniolo history with a menu by Chef Matt Young that features products from Kauai's Makaweli Meat Co. Three of the courses will feature beer pairings from Lanikai Brewing; other courses feature Ocean Organic Vodka and Deep Island Rum.
Here’s the full menu for the March 23 dinner, which will be served from stations located throughout Hula Grill’s bar area in the restaurant:
Makaweli Ranch Tenderloin Tartare
Pickled Ho'io, Pecorino Ululoa Amaranth, Truffle
Paired with Ocean Vodka
Ni’ihau Eland Loco Moco
Rosemary Arancini, 146° Ka Lei Egg, Roasted Hamakua Mushroom, Bordelaise Sauce
Paired with Deep Island Rum
Red Curry Marinated Makaweli Skirt Steak
Coconut Braised Taro, Ho Farms Cherry Tomato, Toasted Peanuts
Paired with Lanikai Brewing Co. Imperial Red Ale with Ginger
Ni’ihau Lamb Ragu
Handmade Papardelle, Oven Dried Kamuela Tomatoes, Melted Leeks, Naked Cow Feta
Paired with Lanikai Brewing Co. Pillbox Porter
Lanikai Brewing Stout and Coconut Gelato Milkshake
Paired with Lanikai Brewing Okole Maluna Chocolate Haupia Imperial Stout
Tickets for the dinner are $65 per person, tax and gratuity included; food will be served from 6 to 8:30 p.m. and validated parking is available. A portion of ticket sales will benefit Hula Grill’s Legacy of Aloha program, which supports Hawaii non-profit organizations that foster sustainability and promote Hawaiian culture and the culinary arts. Call (808) 923-4852 or click here to purchase online.
Jason Genegabus has covered the local entertainment, nightlife, music and bar scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at email@example.com.