What’s Brewing in Kaka‘ako? Aloha Beer Co. is Back!
The brewery opens this month serving craft beers and food in a neighborhood brewing with beer history.
Aloha Beer Co. team, from left: Brewer Kaiao Archer, chef Robert McGee, director of brewery operations Dave Campbell, marketing director Autumn Woods and beverage director Brad Miller.
Photo: Catherine Toth Fox
If your New Year’s resolution is to drink and eat more—and why wouldn’t it be?—then get excited about a new brewery and tap room opening in Kaka‘ako on Jan. 19.
Aloha Beer Co. started brewing in October in a 7,200-square-foot, two-story space in Kaka‘ako. It opens later this month with a hearty menu devised by chef and pork purveyor Robert McGee (Link, Meatball, The Whole Ox, Salt Kitchen & Tasting Bar) and three very different seating areas that will accommodate around 150 people.
The location—700 Queen St.—was chosen by veteran brewmaster Dave Campbell for several reasons. Not only was it the site of Royal Hawaiian Paba Tan, owned by his wife’s father back in the ’70s, but this area of Kaka‘ako was once home to Hawai‘i’s burgeoning beer industry from 1900 to the late 1960s. Aloha Beer Co.’s brewery is down the street from the Historic Honolulu Brewing and Malting Co. building at 553 Queen St., and blocks from the former Primo Cooke Street brewery.
If the name sounds familiar, Aloha Beer Co. had an earlier operation in ‘Iwilei, which shut down in 2013. In Kaka‘ako, it joins Honolulu Beerworks, as well as Vintage Bottle Shop & Tasting Room.
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“We’re in the historic brewing district of the whole state,” says Campbell, a Punahou grad who also served as brewmaster for Big Aloha Brewery at the Sam Choy’s Breakfast Lunch & Crab restaurant, and partnered with local businessman Steve Sombrero to open this brewery. “And it’s no secret Kaka‘ako is getting ready to happen.”
Aloha Beer Co. and Tap Room will feature a rotating selection of a dozen local, craft beers—all brewed on site by experienced brewer Kaiao Archer—with a menu that pairs with the brews. McGee, though not a beer drinker himself, has created shareable dishes and small plates that “hold up” to the beers being served, he says. Think steak platters, charcuterie boards, hearty sandwiches, house-made sausages, interesting salads, beer-friendly fries and nuts, smoked meats and lots of pickles.
“It’s about food that goes with the beer but also with the experience of beer,” McGee says.
And this place is all about the experience.
There are no TVs here, no entrées on the menu, no live music (at least not yet). “We want people to engage,” McGee says.
There are three seating areas designed for different patrons: the sleek-and-modern Tap Room; a casual outdoor area—reminiscent of cruising in a garage—called the Carport; and an opulent lounge upstairs with leather chairs, velvet tuffets, cork floors, a vintage turntable, a fireplace and a zinc bar top. It’s even got a speakeasy-style secret entrance.
If you’re not into beer, that’s OK, too. Brad Miller, former beverage manager of Monkeypod Kitchen Ko Olina, joined Aloha Beer Co. as beverage director and has created a menu of fun, refreshing cocktails using local and seasonal ingredients, some of which come from Campbell’s farm, Palaka Moon Farm, in Waimānalo. The Tap Room will serve nitro coffee and kombucha, too.
“The whole idea of this place is ‘craft,’” Miller says. “Craft beer, craft food, craft cocktails.”
Aloha Beer Co. Tap Brewery and Tap Room, 700 Queen St., 544-1605, alohabeer.com
READ MORE STORIES BY CATHERINE TOTH FOX