Best of the Brews: The Ultimate Kaka‘ako Brewery and Beer Bar Crawl
From breweries to bottle shops to hard to find brews and beyond, discover the best bars this Honolulu neighborhood has to offer with our new beer crawl guide.
The tried and tested Kaka‘ako beer bar crawl route. The things we do in the name of research.
Kaka‘ako is in the process of a giant facelift and while we patiently wait to see the final product, the neighborhood sandwiched between touristy Ala Moana and business-y Downtown has been quietly building up its local beer bar and brewery game. So hire an Uber or Lyft (safety first, folks!), head down to the industrial backstreets of Kaka‘ako and follow our fool-proof path to pint perfection.
1. Home of the Brave Museum
Photo: Kawehi Haug
What’s the vibe? It’s all about remembering, honoring and saluting America’s soldiers and veterans at this World War II-inspired “brewseum.” The museum-meets-retro themed bar features possibly the largest donated private collection of World War II artifacts and memorabilia in the Pacific.
What to drink: The bar has multiple domestic microbrews on tap, a few bottled beers and their own proprietary brew, Home of the Brave beer, brewed for the Brewseum by Sprecher Brewing Company in Wisconsin. If you’re only having one pint per bar along this crawl go with the home brew, Pilot Pale Ale.
Anything else? Every Wednesday night, Brewseum hosts a trivia night from 6 to 8 p.m.
901 Waimanu St., (808) 396-8112, brewseums.com
2. Waikīkī Brewing Co. Kaka‘ako
Photo: Courtesy of Waikīkī Brewing Co.
What’s the vibe? Great barbecue, great beer, great outdoor space to play giant Jenga and corn hole; Waikīkī Brewing Company’s Kaka‘ako location is the ultimate brewery bar. It probably doesn’t hurt that it’s dog-friendly and has great deals on growlers, either. Looking to stay awhile? Catch the game while you play your own games like Battleship, Scattergories and Taboo.
What to drink: You can never go wrong with the crisp and refreshing Aloha Spirit Blonde Ale, but a favorite in this office is the Jalapeño Mouth.
What to eat: There’s a special menu at this location, because of the smoker and outdoor kitchen, so we suggest sharing the barbecue sampler (pulled pork, smoked wings, Drunkwurst, brisket and ribs, $25) or the smoked beef brisket sandwich with the sweet mango Bourbon barbecue sauce ($14). Oh, and there’s a dog menu. Pick your pup’s favorite (grilled chicken and rice or ground beef and rice, $7 each) so you can share a meal together and be that dog parent.
831 Queen St., (808) 591-0387, waikikibrewing.com
3. Aloha Beer Co.
What’s the vibe? The brewery located underneath Kaka’ako speakeasy, HI Brau is regularly pumping with pau hana folk, private parties and neighborhood locals looking for craft beers and bahn mi sandwiches with a twist. Choose a seat inside the quieter bar area or out in the lively outdoor “garage.”
What to drink: The golden Waimanalo Farmhouse Ale ($2.50-$6.50) is a locally-brewed Belgium-style beer that caught our attention right away. We found it went down smoothly and paired nicely with the food offerings.
What to eat: The brisket bahn mi ($16) is well-known favorite to Aloha Beer Company-goers.
700 Queen St., (808) 544-1605, alohabeer.com
4. Real a Gastropub
The Reuben sandwich
Photo: Katie Kenny
What’s the vibe? Freshly reopened, Real a Gastropub on the ground floor of Keahou Lane (around the corner from the largest Down to Earth location) boasts a selection of fantastic bar food and brews to beat.
What to drink: They haven’t begun the brewing operation just yet (they only reopened last month) so check out their hard to find national brews. We looked no further once we saw the fruity (yet not sweet like you would assume) Samuel Adams’ Cherry Wheat.
What to eat: The deviled eggs as a starter and the Reuben sandwich as a main were winners.
506 Keawe St., (808) 200-2739, realgastropub.com
5. Village Bottle Shop & Tasting Room
Photo: Aaron k. Yoshino
What’s the vibe? Village is both craft-beer shop and café, boasting more than 400 brews with 16 of them on draft, and housed in the bustling industrial-chic Salt at Our Kaka‘ako. Many of the beers sold here are hard-to-find labels and releases.
What to drink: With rotating taps and so many beer fridges to work your way through, it’s understandable to think a beer-newbie might be overwhelmed. Thank the beer gods for staff who are more than happy to help you decide. That being said, we’ve never gone wrong with either a Belgium or Trappist brew on tap here.
Anything else? The bottle shop has an occasional trivia night. They also serve something amazing called a pizza pot pie (by HI Pies), which sounds like the perfect snack roadie.
675 Auahi St., #121, (808) 369-0688, villagebeerhawaii.com
6. Honolulu Beerworks
Photo: Katie Kenny
What’s the vibe? This open and spacious bar is the perfect way to end the crawl, with their bookcase full of board games and cards (hello, Cards Against Humanity), one of the best Mac and Cheese dishes around town and their in-house brews.
What to drink: Go for either a flight of three or six brews because it’s very difficult to select just one from their stellar beer list. I went straight in for a flight of three beers which included the new Drink Like A Girl, Surf Session IPA ($2 for a taster, $6.75 for 16 ounces) and The Pussy Grabs Back ($3 for a taster, $7.75 for 16 ounces). The new brew from Pink Boots Collaboration Brew Day, Drink Like A Girl, was top notch ($3 for a taster, $7.75 for 16 ounces).
What to eat: Obviously the crumbly yet creamy beer-made mac and cheese ($10). But the Bavarian soft pretzels ($9) are also definitely worth the hype.
328 Cooke St., (808) 589-2337, honolulubeerworks.com
A Feminine Flight at Honolulu Beerworks: Drink Like A Girl, Surf Session IPA and The Pussy Grabs Back.
Kaka‘ako is one of the best areas for a bit of bar hopping on foot but the first two stops along our crawl are not ideal for pedestrians (where have all the sidewalks gone?). So if you’re looking to up your bar tour game, book a silly little group bike with Paradise Pedals. They have a special Kaka‘ako bar tour for 15 people, starting at $40, where you can either choose to join others or rent for a private party.
3 More Spots to Grab a Perfect Pint
Off the Wall at 1170 Auahi St., (808) 593-BEER (2337)
Workplayhi at 814 Ilaniwai St., 1/F, in Kaka‘ako, (808) 457-1322
Two Tides at Whole Foods Market, 388 Kamake'E St., (808) 379-1800