Aloha Beer Company’s brewery and smoker. (Photos by Ryan Tatsumoto)

Ryan Tatsumoto
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist

We must be getting younger! Why? Because we usually pay our first visit to a new restaurant about a year or two after its grand opening, in part because life (aka work) usually gets in the way and because we want to give the new restaurant time to iron out the kinks after the grand opening. Sometimes, we’re just plain lazy . . . you know, like, “What?! Drive back into town after I just got comfortable?!”

But here we were at Aloha Beer Company just two weeks after it had opened to the public. I must be 20-something again!

Welcome Aloha Beer Company!

Aloha Beer Company opened its doors on Jan. 19, although the company actually began with brewmaster Dave Campbell (a Punahou grad) running Sam Choy’s Big Aloha Brewery several years ago. When Sam Choy’s doors shuttered, the brewing company was reorganized and temporarily moved to the Golden State of California while a permanent location was being secured back home. That permanent location is now in the heart of Kaka‘ako, at 700 Queen St. Along with the addition of brewer Kaiao Archer, a Kealakekua native, the team also enlisted the services of Chef Bob McGee to create the food menu for the restaurant side of the brewery. That means the menu would include locally purveyed beef and pork, along with Chef McGee’s tasty charcuterie.

Photo of Chef McGee’s Mountain View Farms Cured and Smoked special.

The Beer

On our first visit to Aloha Beer Company, I sampled all 10 of the available beer selections as 4-oz. “flights,” although all beers include 8- and 16-oz. portions that range from $2.50 to $3 for the flights up to $7.50 for the pints.

As you know, my usual beverage of choice comes from fermented grapes — I’m not a beer expert by any stretch of the imagination. When I do enjoy a beer, it’s usually a dark, bitter brew along the lines of Guinness or Anchor Steam. But with Aloha Beer Company back to being totally local, I felt the need to support them as much as possible by sampling all of their beer selections, but not because I wanted to drink a lot of beer. Yah, right!

The following description of each beer is from Aloha Beer Company’s menu. The ABV refers to the percentage of alcohol in each beer while the IBU refers to the bitterness, ranging from 0 to 120, with larger numbers for increasing bitterness. The ABV was in line with the alcohol levels of beers you might find at your local supermarket and so were the IBU levels. The bitterness in beer plays the same role as tannins in wine — they both cleanse the palate between bites of food, especially rich and/or fatty foods. That’s why you’ll find burgers, sausages and fried foods in abundance on the menus of most brewpubs. Personally, my favorite beers were the Brown Under, Queen Street Bitter and Red Zeppelin IPA, while the Mrs. enjoyed the Blonde, Carport Pale and Slow Mow.

Blonde: 4.8 percent ABV, 22 IBU

Light, crisp, refreshing. Malted barley with a touch of corn. Enough hops to be present, but not so much as to turn off a mainstream lager drinker.

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