BrewChief Does O'ahu
An Outing in Hawaii
Posted on 5/10/2017 by Chops
Ah, Hawaii. America's Pacific playground. It took me almost four decades of my life to finally get there, and it was well worth the wait. Hawaii is a taste bud paradise to any fan of great beer and quality coffee. Not that you need a qualifier, the island chain is a magical place to anyone with a pulse. For an entire week, I explored the central O'ahu island, home to Honolulu and an array of delectable brews.

Maui Brewing Co. (Click Here)

Where does one go after summiting the Diamond Head peak? A few short miles away in Waikiki is the Maui Brewing Company. Yes, the headquarters is on the Maui island, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy the satellite pubs. This location was a fantastic find, offering a delicious selection of food and beverage (the fish n' chips were especially tasty). I spent a lot of time at the monstrous open-air bar enjoying the salty sea aromas and top-notch brews, my favorite being the Double Overhead IPA. This place is a must for any beer fan visiting Honolulu.

Fun fact: back in 2013, founder/owner Garrett Marrero participated in BrewChief's Brewer Bytes (Click Here).

Waikiki Brewing Co. (Click Here)

Just down the street, I found the Waikiki Brewing Company. They offer a fun variety of unique brews, including the Jalapeno Mouth amber ale, a tasty treat with plenty of heat (not that you need any in Hawaii). My first experience came via their Hana Hou Hefe, an American wheat ale brewed with sweet orange peel and strawberry puree. You can find their six-packs all over the city, which of course I commandeered for the hotel room fridge. I visited the brewery, which also sat in the open air with tall fermentation tanks looming over a large rustic bar. The entire place radiated a relaxed and welcoming vibe, which I guess is the entire point of Waikiki. You could mosey right in wearing nothing but swim trunks and flip flops.

Kai Coffee (Click Here)

With my beer palate satiated, it was time to move on to the famous Hawaiian coffee. It didn't take long to find Kai Coffee, a quaint shop tucked away in the Hyatt Regency of Waikiki. They source and roast a variety of Hawaiian beans, everything from Ka'u to Maui. Owners Sam and Natalie Suiter founded the company to further the Hawaiian experience, both by quality and service. I tasted my way through savory roasts and met a knowledgeable chap named Tony who helped me pick out a few bags of beans.

ChadLou's Coffee (Click Here)

The biggest question mark of the trip ended up being the most rewarding and memorable. ChadLou's Coffee is a cafe on the eastern shore town of Kailua. Even though they are based in Hawaii, they source and roast a global variety of beans. When you walk through the front door of the tiny establishment, you have no idea that you're entering perhaps the best coffee location on the entire island. In short, they know their shit. I was even fortunate enough to visit when they were setting up a tasting event. I got to sample and discuss coffees from around the world, everything from Maui to Myanmar. It was a magical experience and the Rosete family (owners) couldn't have been more gracious.

Waialua Estate (Click Here) and the Old Sugar Mill (Click Here)

My final stop on O'ahu was the northern shore, home of the only coffee plantation on the island: the Waialua Estate. I got to visit the Old Sugar Mill, a community market of sorts that features everything from jellies to chocolate (and of course, coffee). Waialua beans are harvested and roasted under the Old Sugar Mill Brand. They also source Ka'u varietals and roast everything from washes to peaberry. And yes, they are all delicious. It took me a while to select bags of beans to bring home, as I was thwarted by limited luggage capacity and airline weight fees.

Overall, my visit to Hawaii was an extraordinary experience. My taste buds couldn't get enough of the local brew culture. While Kona reigns supreme on the island chain, it was very interesting to get underneath that mantra and explore. I found some hidden gems and well-established staples, all of which exemplified quality. With the first sip, I knew I would be coming back one day. With the last, I knew it would be very soon.

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BrewChief hanging out at ChadLou's Coffee in Kailua, Hawaii
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