Discover the Finest Hawaiian Beer: A Guide to Island Brews

Exploring the appeal of Hawaiian beer? This article will guide you through Hawaii’s top craft brews, where local treasures like Kona Brewing Co., Maui Brewing Co., and Aloha Beer Company elevate traditional brewing with a dash of island flair.

Step into the Hawaiian beer scene to discover how tropical ingredients and innovative brewing converge to create a distinct beer experience.

Key Takeaways

  • Hawaiian breweries like Kona Brewing Co. and Maui Brewing Co. are gaining global recognition with their tropical-inspired beers, and new players continue to innovate and contribute to the craft beer scene.
  • Brews such as Maui Brewing’s Pineapple Mana Wheat utilize local ingredients like Hawaiian pineapple, coffee, and vanilla, giving these beers a unique flavor that captures the spirit of Hawai’i.
  • Sustainability is a key focus in Hawai’i’s brewing industry, with companies like Maui Brewing Co. using solar power and recycled materials, reflecting the local principle of Lōkahi – harmony and unity.

Island Hops: Top Hawaiian Breweries

Hawai’i’s brewing artistry embraces a tropical twist. The island’s breweries mold their beers to echo their unique environment, yielding a spectrum of flavors as diverse and vibrant as the islands themselves.

Renowned breweries like Kona Brewing Co., Maui Brewing Co., and Big Island Brewhaus have put Hawaiian beer on the global map with their refreshing light beers and bold ales.

Their flagship beers, like Kona’s Longboard Island Lager and Hula Hefeweisen, or Maui Brewing’s Big Swell IPA, have become favorite beers among locals and visitors alike, making them a must-try on any Hawaiian vacation.

Newcomers like Lokahi Brewing Co., Mahalo Aleworks, Waikiki Brewing Co., and Aloha Beer Company are harnessing this momentum, representing Hawaiian brewing’s next generation. These breweries continue to push the boundaries of brewing, experimenting with new flavors and techniques to create innovative craft beers.

The success of these breweries, particularly Maui Brewing Company, which expanded from producing 400 to over 20,000 barrels annually, has seen Hawaiian beer become a serious player in the global craft beer scene.

Liquid Paradise: Unique Ingredients in Hawaiian Beers

The distinctive character of Hawaiian beer owes much to the unique local ingredients utilized in brewing. These ingredients, sourced from the islands’ rich tropical environment, impart a distinct flavor profile that sets Hawaiian beers apart from others.

Take, for example, Maui Brewing Company’s Pineapple Mana Wheat ale. This refreshing brew is infused with Maui Gold Pineapple, giving it a crisp tropical flavor that perfectly captures the essence of Hawai’i.

Other breweries, like AleSmith Brewing Company, blend locally roasted Hawaiian coffee, coconut, and Madagascar vanilla beans to create rich and complex stouts. And then there are breweries like Lanikai Brewing Co. that showcase local flavors by featuring endemic ingredients like Mamaki in their Czech-style Pilsner.

Beers brewed with local ingredients offer not just a unique drinking experience, but also add to Hawaiian beers’ broader flavor profile, influenced by the culture.

Craft Beer Culture in Hawaii

Hawaii’s craft beer culture has made significant strides. What was once a budding scene in the early 2010s has now blossomed into a thriving beer community, comparable to Oregon’s renowned craft beer scene.

This growth has not been without its challenges, but through it all, Hawai’i’s craft beer culture has proven resilient, contributing approximately $120 million to the state’s economy in a single year and bolstering the local job market, as evidenced by the 80 new positions created through Maui Brewing Company’s expansion in Kihei.

Yet, it’s not solely about the financials. Sustainability stands as a fundamental pillar of the Hawaiian craft beer culture.

Breweries like Maui Brewing Company are leading the way in environmental stewardship, using solar power, recyclable packaging, and even planning to draw atmospheric CO2 to carbonate their beers. This spirit of sustainability is deeply intertwined with the local ethos of Lōkahi, fostering a sense of unity between the spirit, the land, and the community.

This spirit is reflected in the practices of the craft brewing industry, further elevating the significance of Hawaiian beer.

Hawai’i’s rich brewing landscape is home to a variety of beer styles, each offering a unique tasting experience. Some popular Hawaiian beer styles include:

  • Tropical infusions that capture the essence of the islands
  • Light, refreshing lagers perfect for the beach
  • Bold, rich dark beers that provide a satisfying end to the day

There’s a Hawaiian beer for every palate. Delve deeper into these styles and discover what makes them truly distinctive.

Tropical Infusions

When you think of Hawai’i, images of lush, tropical landscapes likely come to mind. Hawaiian brewers encapsulate these tropical vibes in their beers by infusing them with fruits such as pineapple, passionfruit, and guava, leading to vibrant, fresh, and juicy flavors.

These enticing aromas and juicy flavors bring the essence of Hawai’i right to your taste buds.

Consider the following beers that showcase tropical fruit flavors:

  • Pineapple Mana Wheat by Maui Brewing Company: an unfiltered wheat ale that teases your palate with the sweetness of Maui Gold Pineapple, enhancing the beer’s tropical character
  • Gold Cliff IPA by Kona Brewing: a beer that uses pineapple to showcase the versatility of tropical fruit flavors
  • Hanalei Island IPA by Kona Brewing: a beer that uses a blend of passionfruit, orange, and guava to showcase the versatility of tropical fruit flavors

From the crisp, fruity notes of Wailua Wheat to the tropical touch of hand-toasted coconut in Honolulu Beerworks’ Cocoweizen, tropical infusions in Hawaiian beers offer a refreshing and authentically Hawaiian beer experience, while being naturally gluten free.

Light and Refreshing

Light beers serve as ideal companions for Hawai’i’s warm climate and beach lifestyle.

Their low bitterness and moderate alcohol content make them ideal for quenching your thirst with just a sip while lounging on the sandy shores of Waikiki Beach or after an adventurous hike in the lush Hawaiian rainforests.

Blonde Ales and Lagers are particularly popular for their light, refreshing qualities, making them a great choice for those seeking a refreshing light beer.

Some examples include:

  • Waikiki Brewing Company’s Aloha Spirit Blonde Ale, with its light bitterness and mango-infused tropical twist
  • Bikini Blonde Lager from Maui Brewing Co., offering a smooth and clean finish
  • Longboard Island Lager from Kona Brewing Co., also offering a smooth and clean finish

These best beers pair wonderfully with lighter fare such as salads and seafood, making them the perfect accompaniment for a beach picnic or a post-adventure relax.

Bold and Rich

For those favoring a more robust drinking experience, Hawaiian breweries cater to your needs. Their selection of dark beers, with rich flavors like chocolate, coffee, and roasted malt, provide a satisfying contrast to the light and fruity beers more commonly associated with the islands.

Some examples of Hawaiian porters include:

  • Big Island Brewhaus’s White Mountain Porter, known for its chocolate notes and hoppy spice
  • Maui Brewing Company’s Coconut Hiwa Porter, which combines toasted coconut, malted barley, and hints of coffee
  • Aloha Beer Company’s Kiawe Honey Porter, which balances sweet honey with roasted chocolate

These beers, with their bold flavors and higher alcohol content, offer a rich and satisfying taste of Hawai’i’s darker side.

Brewery Tours and Tastings

Experiencing the art of brewing firsthand is the best way to appreciate it. Many Hawaiian breweries offer tours and tastings, providing an intimate look at the brewing process and a chance to sample their delicious creations.

One such place is the Maui Brewing Company, which offers VIP guided tours at their Kihei Tasting Room.

For just $20 per person, you can embark on a journey through their brewhouse, cellar, and packaging line, culminating in a tasting session where you can savor their best brews.

Available on weekends, with tours at 12:30pm, 2pm, and 3:30pm, it’s a worthwhile investment for any beer enthusiast. Plus, with advance notice, accommodations can be made for individuals with mobility concerns, making the experience accessible for everyone.

Pairing Hawaiian Beer with Island Cuisine

Beer and food pairing is an art form. When it involves Hawaiian beers and island cuisine, it’s a heavenly match. The unique flavors of the beers complement the rich, diverse cuisine of the islands, enhancing the dining experience and making every meal a culinary adventure.

For example, the light and refreshing Longboard Island Lager pairs well with lighter dishes like grilled chicken or a sandwich, while the fruity Wailua Wheat Ale complements desserts like Tahitian Vanilla ice cream.

On the other hand, bold and rich beers like Black Sand Porter are ideal with roasted and smoked foods, providing a hearty and satisfying pairing.

Whether it’s a BBQ chicken pizza or a French dip sandwich, the right beer can elevate your meal to new heights. So, don’t be afraid to experiment with different pairings and embark on a delightful culinary journey.

Where to Find Hawaiian Beer

You might be pondering, “This all sounds enticing, but how can I procure these amazing Hawaiian beers?” Well, you’re in luck. Hawaiian beers can be purchased online through retailers such as GotoLiquorStore, making them accessible no matter where you are.

GotoLiquorStore offers a wide range of Hawaiian beers, including popular Kona Brewing Co. options like Big Wave Golden Ale and Longboard Island Lager, as well as kona spiked island seltzers.

With flavors featuring tropical fruit, pineapple, coffee, and more, you’re spoilt for choice. Plus, you can choose from various packaging options, such as 12oz, 16oz, and 19.2oz bottles and cans, allowing you to select the perfect size for your needs.

Celebrating Hawaii’s Beer Scene: Festivals and Events

Hawai’i’s beer scene is not just about the breweries and the beers they produce. It’s also about the vibrant community that has grown around them, and one of the best ways to experience this is through the numerous beer festivals and events that take place throughout the year.

These events not only showcase the best of Hawaiian brewing but also promote sustainability and community building.

Take the 4th Annual Hawaii Beer Fest Winter Edition, for example. Taking place at the Bishop Museum Great Lawn, this event features:

  • Over 100 varieties of craft beers, hard seltzers, and ciders from local and national breweries
  • Food from top local vendors
  • Live entertainment
  • Interactive games

Then there’s the Kona Brewers Festival, which embeds sustainability into their operations by utilizing biodegradable wristbands, reusable glass beer mugs, and bamboo sporks, while also establishing recycling and upcycling centers.

These festivals not only provide attendees with a taste of the local beer scene but also foster a culture of sustainability and community giving.

Sustainability and Giving Back: Hawaiian Breweries Making a Difference

However, it’s not only at festivals that sustainability and community giving are stressed. Hawaiian breweries themselves are actively participating in sustainability practices and contributing to community welfare through fundraising and various initiatives.

The Kona Brewers Festival, for example, promotes sustainable community gatherings and contributes proceeds to environmental, educational, and cultural community projects.

Some initiatives by Hawaiian breweries include:

  • Kona Brewing Company is reducing its carbon footprint
  • Maui Brewing Company is progressing towards grid-independence and plans to donate excess power to community non-profits
  • Ola Brewing Company’s farm-to-fermenter model fosters sustainability and local farmers’ partnerships, enhancing community integration through shared resources

These initiatives highlight how Hawaiian breweries are not just about brewing great beer, but also about making a difference in their communities.


As we’ve journeyed through Hawai’i’s thriving beer scene, we’ve discovered that it’s more than just about brewing. It’s about capturing the spirit of the islands in every sip, embracing sustainability, and fostering a sense of community.

Each brewery, each beer, tells a story of the islands, showcasing unique local ingredients, innovative brewing techniques, and a commitment to giving back.

So next time you find yourself on a Hawaiian beach, with a local brew in hand, remember you’re not just savoring a beer, but a taste of Hawai’i itself.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Hawaii have a local beer?

Yes, Honolulu Beerworks offers a variety of locally brewed beers using both local and imported ingredients. You can find their beers in cans and on draft across the Hawaiian Islands.

Is Kona Brewing really Hawaiian?

Kona Brewing is based in Hawaii but the beer sold outside of Hawaii is not actually brewed in Hawaii. Most of their production takes place in other U.S. locations.

Can I tour Hawaiian breweries?

Yes, you can tour Hawaiian breweries like Maui Brewing Company for a close-up look at the brewing process.

What food pairs well with Hawaiian beer?

Hawaiian beers go well with local cuisine like seafood and salads for light beers, and roasted or smoked foods for rich, dark beers. Enjoy!

Where can I buy Hawaiian beers?

You can buy Hawaiian beers online through retailers like GotoLiquorStore. Cheers!

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