Try Waikīkī Brewing Co.’s New Custom IPA at the Honolulu Museum of Art

The local brewery is making a special beer for the museum’s new exhibit, “Ho‘oulu: The King Kalākaua Era.”

Editor’s Note: Through our partnership with the Honolulu Museum of Art, HONOLULU Magazine publishes a monthly blog written by the museum’s staff.

  Waikīkī Brewing Co.’s New Custom IPA at the Honolulu Museum of Art


After much planning and preparation, Hoʻoulu: The King Kalākaua Era exhibition opens Sept. 13 at the Honolulu Museum of Art. This is the first exhibition at HoMA to describe a seminal period in Hawai‘i’s history—1874 to 1891—when Hawaiian art, culture and philosophy were promoted through innovative means, to ultimately present a national identity to a global audience.


Not only will guests get to view the exhibition, they’ll also be able to taste it.


Well, kind of.


For the first time, Waikīkī Brewing Co. is teaming up with the museum to launch a beer made specifically for an exhibit. Called Hoʻoulu HoMA IPA, the beer will launch in tandem with the exhibition and will be served at the exhibition’s opening reception, ARTafterDARK on Sept. 26, and at Waikīkī Brewing Co. locations throughout the exhibition run.


The collaboration came about a few months ago when Waikīkī Brewing Co. founder (and museum member) Joe Lorenzen saw the museum was hosting a spring benefit called Palette, which involved several local celebrity chefs. “I have this passion for beer and that’s my creative outlet, and I also have this really awesome reverence for the museum and what it has to offer,” he says, so he reached out to the museum’s events team to see what kind of collaboration could be brewed up.


The beer will be an English-style IPA, described as a “hoppy, moderately strong, very well attenuated pale British ale,” according to Lorenzen. In fact, this is the kind of beer that Kalākaua would have had the opportunity to sip on during his visit to England in 1881. A brewer since 2011, Lorenzen’s extensive knowledge and passion for beer led him to research how he could also incorporate indigenous Hawaiian ingredients and preparation into the recipe.


We caught up with Lorenzen by phone to learn more about what to expect with this new beer.

  Waikīkī Brewing Co.’s New Custom IPA at the Honolulu Museum of Art


Honolulu Museum of Art: What’s your favorite part about brewing beer?


Joe Lorenzen: It’s threefold. It’s almost like a layered thing that I like about it, which is that the base of it is just good hard work. You’re hauling heavy bags of grain, you’re moving kegs around, so at the end of the day, you have that sense of having actually done physical work. You’re tired, you’re sweaty, the beer tastes extra good. The second layer is, really at its root, it’s kind of a manufacturing job. We’re taking raw ingredients and turning them into products that we sell in a marketplace, so it’s nice to be a part of something that creates jobs and helps support industry. But for me, the biggest and most fun aspect is the fact that it’s creative. It’s like being a chef. I’m developing a recipe when I’m brewing beer. It’s not just that mechanical work, it’s about flavors and thinking about what I want to put out to the world, what I want to give to the people that are gonna taste the beer, how I want them to experience the different flavors, and how I’m gonna bring together different ingredients in order to create that. It’s a very creative endeavor as well; ultimately to me, that’s the most rewarding part of it.


HoMA: Tell me more about the beer.


JL: It was a beer that was an emerging style in the mid- to late-1800s in England. Definitely during the time that King Kalākaua was traveling in Europe, it would have been a beer that he would have had a chance to be exposed to. It’s interesting because it’s kind of a historical style but it continues to be made. IPAs, of course, are very popular. These days, people are making newer styles of IPAs that are a little more aggressively hopped or lighter in body, like West Coast IPAs or American IPAs. An English IPA is a little bit more subtle and has a little bit more of a malt character and a malt balance to it, and also uses an English yeast strain that contributes a little bit of character to the yeast itself. I wanted to do something to tie it into Hawai‘i as well. I started looking into historical brewing in Hawai‘i and came across ‘ōkolehao, which started off as a ti root-based beer but would be distilled into a ti root-based moonshine. But I decided to take that ti root base and include that into the beer. … So you’ll get some native Hawaiian ingredients; we’ll bake the ti root in an imu to prepare it to develop the sugars. The ti roots contribute their own kind of earthy sweetness.


HoMA: Tell me about how the process is going.


JL: I haven’t made it yet but we’re going to make it probably in mid-August so we have it ready for the start of the exhibition. I’m really excited to do it because it’s different from a lot of the IPAs that we have. … I’m excited for this one because it’s a little more subtle representation of IPA and also the fact that we are tying in some local ingredients and some history into it—that’s what excites me about it.