Honolulu Beerworks, part two

It’s not easy opening up a new brewery. Geoff Seideman knows this well—he’s been working on opening Honolulu Beerworks for almost three years.

Before finally settling on the current location in Kakaako, Seideman spent months looking at different spaces all over Honolulu and even had negotiations on one space fall through.

But, after a lot of searching he found an empty warehouse on Cooke Street. The building was full of junk and needed a ton of work. Siedeman saw past the 25 tons of trash and demolition debris that needed to be hauled out and saw a perfect empty shell for him to build out Honolulu Beerworks. The 3200 sq. ft. space also has an 800 sq. ft. alleyway that will become Hawaii’s first outdoor beer garden, complete with hop plants, communal tables and a bbq grill and smoker for the kitchen.

After removing all of the debris, work finally began on bringing the building up to 21st century standards. All new electrical panels and wiring had to be installed. Plumbing and gas lines were installed this week. Because the building was so old, all new plumbing lines needed to be added. That meant cutting into the cement flooring and digging yards of trenches to lay new pipes for the brewery and the new bathrooms that are being installed.

Seideman did most of the work himself: he had years of construction experience building new homes and renovating old ones. Recently, walls have gone up and the bar has been framed. The bar and restaurant will be a total of 1700 sq. ft, while the brewery space will be about 1500 sq. ft. The bar is massive and will allow patrons to look right into the brewery and watch the liquid gold being made.

As difficult as the renovations and construction has been, Seideman says the hardest part of starting a brewery is securing financing and waiting for equipment from the mainland. Seideman says you need at least $500,000 to open a brewpub of this size. He financed Honolulu Beerworks with a combination of personal money, money from family and friends and bank financing. He and his wife are the sole owners of the business. He decided against using crowdfunding, like Kickstarter, for start up capital. He may look at that option down the road once the business is established and there is a loyal customer base.

The entire brewery, including the fermentation and serving tanks, was fabricated on the mainland. In fact, basically everything a brewery needs to operate in Hawaii needs to be shipped in from the mainland. The distance and time spent waiting for equipment makes things a little more difficult. Siedman has had to make multiple trips to Portland to inspect equipment and oversee the loading of two 40 foot containers packed full with his precious goods.

So how close is Honolulu Beerworks to being open? Seideman hopes to be open by late November. Next up is installing the kitchen, finishing the interior walls, bar and installing the bathrooms. And of course, brewing!

On my next visit we’ll hopefully be able to see the interior design in place and the brewery in action.

This is part two of a series. Read the first:
Part 1: Geoff Seideman of Honolulu Beerworks 

Timothy Golden is a homebrewer and beer lover. Find more of his writing on Hawaii’s beer scene at beerinhawaii.com