Beer Lab HI Opens a Third Location on O‘ahu at Pearlridge Center
Where else can you get locally brewed beer on draft next to a holiday keiki train?
Photos: Courtesy Beer Lab HI
When braving holiday shopping, or sometimes shopping of any kind, sometimes you need a drink. We don’t usually look for it in a kiosk.
But that’s exactly where you can find Beer Lab HI’s newest location for its local craft beer. The new gated-off bar is under the escalator, just a couple feet away from Pearlridge’s holiday keiki train and across from a Starbucks and Auntie Anne’s Pretzel stand. It’s a strange spot, but a welcome addition to the shopping center, at least for me and my beer-drinking friends (which would be almost all my friends).
“In a few other malls on the Mainland, they have prototyped a few bar-type kiosks and we were interested in trying the new concept,” says Nicholas Wong, Beer Lab HI’s CEO.
He and two homebrewing friends and fellow Pearl Harbor nuclear engineers, Derek Taguchi and Kevin Teruya, opened the first Beer Lab HI at Varsity Center in 2016. Two years later, Pearlridge is the group’s third location.
The look of the tiny bar—we counted seats for about 25 to 30 in a long booth, at the bar and at a few low and high tables—mirrors the wood and clean lines of the group’s other places. It’s cozy and rather normal if you face the bar, watching games on two big screen TVs. Sit at the tables near the hip-high gates surrounding them, however, and it can be surreal to sip an ale as families with kids, strollers and bags walk by just a few inches away. The space has fewer taps. Six beers are available here, versus the 10 and 16 varieties available at the University and Waipi‘o locations, respectively. But the selection will rotate.
New for the launch of the Pearlridge location is the Pineapple Nectar, a sour ale brewed with local Dole pineapples, lactose and vanilla for a fruity, lighter finish. When we visited we also found the Mililani Red Ale; Ollie West Coast IPA; and one of Beer Lab HI’s favorites, the Ko‘olauloa, a New England-style IPA, which we’re told is hoppy and fruity without that residual hops bitterness. Wine is also on the menu, as well as soda, and we spotted bottles of water in the small refrigerator. You can still take home a 32-ounce growler of any beer on tap.
The Pearlridge location is also BYOF—Bring Your Own Food—with the exception of the crunchy De.Hi Jerky, which is on the menu. Fortunately, finding something to eat in a shopping center isn’t a problem. We asked the Beer Lab HI team for their suggestions. They listed Bautista’s Filipino Kitchen, L&L (both at the nearby food court), and as a beer pairing, crack seed and li hing mui from Seed City near Macy’s (coincidentally located under the staircase there).
The bar doesn’t keep normal mall hours. It opens and closes an hour later than most other stores, so you can stay merry even in the holiday crunch.
Beer Lab HI, Pearlridge Center. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Will close at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve and stay closed Christmas Day. beerlabhi.com