Honolulu Beerworks: opening a craft brewery, part one

Geoff Seideman of the upcoming Honolulu Beerworks

Craft breweries are everywhere—that is, everywhere except for Oahu. In the span of one year, Hawaii Islands Brewing Co. and Aloha Beer Co. opened and closed in Honolulu. Enter Honolulu Beerworks, which hopes to step into the void with a brewery, brewpub and Honolulu’s first outdoor beer garden. It’s even attempting to grow its own hops. Estimated opening date: November.

So what does it take to open a brewery? Over the next several weeks, I’ll be chronicling owners Geoff and Charmayne Seideman’s steps from construction to their very first brew day.

But first, some background on owner and head brewer Geoff Seideman, originally from Philadelphia and a Hawaii resident for 14 years. He’s a KCC culinary grad with experience at Kelly O’Neill’s, The Pineapple Room and La Mer.

I caught up with him in the middle of digging new plumbing trenches; he’s doing most of the construction and build out himself.

How did you get started homebrewing?
After watching Brewmasters on the Discovery Channel in 2010, I became very interested in brewing and the brewing industry. With my culinary background, I felt that this was right up my alley. I began reading everything I could about making beer. My fate was sealed when my wife bought me a home brew kit for Christmas.

What was your first professional brewing job?
About six months [into] home brewing, I knew this was what I wanted to do professionally. I began volunteering at Gordon Biersch and Aloha Beer. I wanted to get as much experience and knowledge about brewing that I could. Dave Campbell at Aloha Beer was nice enough to let me hang around and learn. As Aloha Beer increased its production, Dave brought me on as an assistant brewer.

What are your favorite beers to drink? To brew?
With the hop harvest in full swing right now, there are a lot wet-hopped beers that are awesome. By using the hops within a couple of hours of harvest, the beers have an added dimension of flavor to the beer.

I like brewing everything. It really doesn’t matter what I am brewing. Each beer has its own specifications and requirements to get the desired finished product.

Favorite hops?
Another loaded question! Currently, the ones that are growing in our beer garden. Our goal is to cultivate enough so that we can use them in some small batch creations.

How did you come up with the name Honolulu Beerworks?
I wanted to show pride in a locally made product by putting where it’s made front and center. Beerworks came out of the history of the Kakaako area. The old Honolulu Ironworks was a few blocks down from us and is currently Restaurant Row. It was an integral part of the area from the late 1800s until 1980s. The logo came out of … an old photograph of the Ironworks, [in which] workers were standing next to giant gears. I incorporated [those gears] to give an industrial look. We added the waves to signify two things: first, we are surrounded by the ocean, and secondly, the water we use in making beer.

How big will the brewery be?
We have a custom-built seven barrel brew house. We’ll be able to make 14 kegs per brew. With the equipment we currently have, we’ll be able to produce 700 barrels annually and have room for more tanks to eventually double capacity.