Grind Time: Kakaako gets a new brewery

Apr. 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

Geoffrey Seideman will open Honolulu Beerworks to the public for the first time on Friday. (Star-Advertiser photo by Dennis Oda)

Geoffrey Seideman will open Honolulu Beerworks to the public for the first time on Friday. (Star-Advertiser photo by Dennis Oda)

BY JASON GENEGABUS / jason@staradvertiser.com

After months of waiting and wondering, Oahu beer drinkers now have a new option for local craft beer in Kakaako. Honolulu Beerworks will officially open to the public Friday after a few weeks of preview events.

Owner Geoffrey Seideman started out brewing his own beer at home before moving on to apprenticeship positions at Gordon Biersch and Aloha Beer Company, eventually getting hired as an assistant brewmaster at Aloha Beer before its brewpub operations shut down in 2013.

A bartender pours a beer at Honolulu Beerworks during a preview event on Tuesday. (Star-Advertiser Photo by Jason Genegabus)

A bartender pours a beer at Honolulu Beerworks during a preview event on Tuesday. (Star-Advertiser Photo by Jason Genegabus)

The closure ended up serving as a catalyst for Seideman’s current entrepreneurial adventure, as he’s spent the better part of a year building out the former warehouse space at 328 Cooke St. to accommodate his custom-built seven barrel brewing operation.

“By May, we should be fully up and running,” Seideman said earlier this week. “We’re kind of rolling into it. We’ll be open (at night) for a few weeks, then we’ll roll into lunch service and then a full dinner menu.”

For a relatively cozy space, the portion of Honolulu Beerworks open to the drinking public is surprisingly comfortable. An assortment of picnic and bar tables provide variety, and there’s a great bar top built into a “window” created when the building’s roll-up door is opened. When the bar inevitably fills up at night, this will be the place to post up — you get a great view of the room, but you’re also catching the breeze from outside.

Another fun space will be Honolulu Beerworks’ beer garden, with a few more picnic tables and a view of the skies above Kakaako. It’s going to get pretty loud inside when the bar is filled with people, so the beer garden will be a good pick for those interested in a (slightly) quieter option.

The beer garden also looks like a great place for private parties, but Seideman isn’t sure he wants to go that route.

“A lot of people have asked about renting us out,” he said. “I don’t want to be a rental space. I want to be able to focus on the neighborhood.

“Initially, we’re going to be closed on Sundays, so that might be a day where we have events. But if we’re busy enough, we might be open on Sundays, too.”

ENOUGH TALK about the room — what about the beer?

Honolulu Beerworks will offer nine different beers when it opens on Friday, with changes to the lineup expected to happen frequently. Seideman has enlisted the help of his former boss at Aloha Brewing, longtime Honolulu brewmaster Dave Campbell, to help with the day-to-day brewing and development of new recipes.

“We try to play all the styles a little bit different than normal,” Seideman said.

When asked if he was especially excited about introducing any particular beer to new customers, he replied, “To me, it’s all, ‘What’s my mood?’ when I’m drinking.

“One of the beers I’m into right off the bat is the stout. The stout is really nice. And the Kolsch is really nice.”

The opening day beer lineup at Honolulu Beerworks. (Star-Advertiser Photo by Jason Genegabus)

The opening day beer menu at Honolulu Beerworks. (Star-Advertiser Photo by Jason Genegabus)

Here’s the complete lineup available on opening day:

» Animal Farmhouse Ale (4.7 ABV, 25 IBU)
» Kaka’ako Kolsch (5.5 ABV, 26 IBU)
» Rye Not? Pale Ale (5.7 ABV, 46 IBU)
» It’s Not Bitter Ale (5.8 ABV, 34 IBU)
» Point Panic Pale Ale (5.8 ABV, 36 IBU)
» Pia Mahi’ai Saison (6.0 ABV, 25 IBU)
» 2nd Cool Runnings Ale (6.0 ABV, 25 IBU)
» South Shore Stout (7.2 ABV, 60 IBU)
» Sheltered Bay IPA (7.7 ABV, 70 IBU)

After tasting my way through the lineup earlier this week, my initial personal favorites were the Animal Farmhouse and 2nd Cool Runnings ales and the South Shore Stout.

Heading into summer, the Animal Farmhouse and 2nd Cool Runnings are both lighter beers perfect for Hawaii’s warm weather climate and will make for a great pau hana drink after a long day at work.

The outdoor beer garden at Honolulu Beerworks. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)

The outdoor beer garden at Honolulu Beerworks. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)

The unique story behind the 2nd Cool Runnings Ale and its limited nature — the beer was made with ingredients previously used to create barley wine at the brewery — should be enough to get local beer nerds buzzing, too.

And I was immediately impressed by the South Shore Stout, which was smooth and creamy on the palate without its higher alcohol content overwhelming the overall flavor. It also has just the right touch of bitterness and a chocolate note to make you immediately want another sip. This stuff will sneak up on you if you’re not careful!

Craft beer fans will also want to try the Rye Not? Pale Ale, with its spicy flavor profile, or the Pia Mahi’ai Saison, with it’s amazing citrus aroma and just the right amount of sweetness from the local oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes, lemongrass and Big Island honey used in the brewing process.

Brewers make different beers for a reason: Not everyone will like everything they make. At Honolulu Beerworks, I wasn’t as impressed with the Kaka’ako Kolsch and the Sheltered Bay IPA as I was with the other seven beers I tried. I already had a feeling I wouldn’t be too excited about the Kolsch (I’ve never been a big fan of this classic German style of beer), but I was a bit surprised I couldn’t get into the IPA more. Guess I’ll just have to wait a few weeks and try another pint from a different batch!

According to Seideman, Honolulu Beerworks will be open from 4 to 11 p.m. daily (closed on Sundays), but those hours are subject to change. The best way to find out the brewery’s current hours of operation is to visit their Facebook page or call (808) 589-2337.
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“Grind Time” is always looking for the latest places to get your grub on. Email Jason Genegabus with restaurant, bar or any other food/drink-related item at jason@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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