Beer Lab Just Opened a Beer Garden and Poke Counter on Beretania
It’s the fourth location for this growing craft beer microchain.
“We brought together a few of our favorite things,” teased a surprise Instagram story from Beer Lab HI last Friday afternoon. “Beer and Poke. Join us at our newest beer garden in town and try some of our very own poke.” Needing no further convincing, I headed down at once and found, in a little puka near Grace’s Inn and Times Supermarket on Beretania Street, Beer Lab’s fourth location.
Unlike its original taproom on University Avenue, The Hall at Pearlridge and its brewery and taproom in Waipio, this one is an open-air beer garden with picnic tables under an awning. The brewery counter is open to the outside—you simply walk up and start your tab as you would at any other location. And unique for Beer Lab, this one boasts a poke counter.
Is there anything better than snacking on fresh fish and locally made beer? All the poke is made in-house with fresh ‘ahi: spicy, Hawaiian OG or shoyu, and there’s also a tofu poke. Poke bowls are $15 for one choice or $17 for two and include toppings like furikake, green onion and bubu arare. I tried the spicy ‘ahi and was impressed by the freshness and lean cuts. Crispy jerky, chicaron, sodas and juices round out the menu for now.
Plans for more, owner Nicolas Wong emails in answer to my question, include “everything and anything. Our goal was to create and serve food that pairs with beer (not the other way around) and we decided what better way to start than with our favorite, poke. We plan to continue to expand and experiment not just with different flavors and styles of poke, but explore and search for different cultures of drinking foods.”
Sixteen taps are pouring all of Beer Lab’s signature and small-batch beers into proper glassware. On tap to celebrate the opening was Flash Black Black IPA, a throwback style (and a favorite of this writer) at 7% ABV and a pronounced 70 IBU. Light rice lagers, sours, IPAs, red ales and fruited beers round out Beer Lab’s typical selection of something for every taste. This week’s limited release, also on tap and in cans to go, is the Goya IPA brewed with bitter melon at 7% ABV and 100 IBU, specially made for the Okinawan Feastival.
On your walk in, it is impossible to miss large new brewing tanks under a high roof painted in Beer Lab’s signature lime green. The hope is to start brewing on Beretania by the end of 2023. “The biggest difference from our Waipio brewery is the brewing capacity,” Wong writes. “Our Beretania location will allow us a greater capacity to brew more beer and get it out to the state of Hawai‘i, not just the island of O‘ahu.”
The outdoor seating can get warm during the day but cools off nicely with cross breezes in the evening. High walls on both sides make it surprisingly quiet, even with the busy street and other businesses nearby. The first of several planned murals was painted by Kasey Kawaguchi with colorful animals reminding you of Beer Lab’s slogan: “Live Pono, Drink ‘Ono.”
Parking is available on-site just off the street. And you can buy Beer Lab merchandise, crowler fills and canned 4-packs cold and ready to go.