Waikiki Brewing Company opened recently on March 24, 2015 at the corner of Kalakaua Avenue and Ala Moana Boulevard, on the makai side of the same single-story building that houses long time tenant and owner of WBC, Cheeseburger Waikiki.
For you old school folks, this location used to be the longtime home of Sizzler Steak House.
WBC is an open-air establishment, taking advantage of the warm Waikiki sunshine and cool breezes.
It must be noted, at the time of my visit it got pretty gusty in there, as the Ala Moana Boulevard corridor in that part of Waikiki acts like a channel that funnels wind gusts blowing through there quite strong at times. So sometimes you’ll have to batten down your hatches and vacant beer coasters from turning into flying projectiles.
Also, since this open-air pub is right next to the busy street that is Ala Moana Boulevard, you’ll get blasted out by the occasional Harley and “Ninja” bike riders hard on the gas with their almost muffler-less motorcycles. However none of those slight nuisances were deal breakers at all.
If you sit at the bar, you’ll be entertained by live broadcast sports on three big screen HDTVs, with a towering floor-to-ceiling backdrop of their brewing tanks and intricate labyrinth of various pipes, hoses and valve systems that tie the whole system together.
Manager Nathan was so kind to walk me behind the counter on a personal tour through the intricate labyrinth of tanks and pipes where the “WBC magic” happens, showing me from start to finish how they hand-craft their beer, right there on the property.
STEP 1. Waikiki Brewing Company’s beer starts with whole grains, roasted to varied degrees in darkness to accommodate each flavor they offer.
After the grain is milled, it’s fed through a large diameter pipe with a motorized auger in it up towards the ceiling and over to what’s called a Mash Tun.
Step 2. In the next photo is what’s called the Mash Tun. Here, hot water (hot liquor) is added to the grain and left to stand for 60 minutes, creating what’s called a “Mash”.
Step 3: After 60 minutes additional rest in the Mash Tun tank, you have what’s called “Sweet Wort”.
Step 4: Still in the Mash Tun tank, it goes into the “Vorlauf Cycle” to clarify the Sweet Wort, which filters out the husk and grain.
Step 5. The Sweet Wort is sent to the Boiler Kettle, as shown above. It’s then goes into a 60 minute BOIL CYCLE. This is the point where the Brewmaster adds Hops and other flavors (fruits, etc.). Early add Hops = Bittering Hop, Late add Hops = flavor & aroma.
Step 6. OXYGENATE BEER as it cools in the HEAT EXCHANGER, as shown above.
Step 7. Send to FERMENTER (as shown above) and add YEAST.
Step 8. FERMENT for 14 DAYS: 7-8 days ferment, 6-7 days conditioning.
During this time, they keep a detailed log file of the progress within the fermentation tanks, each holding their variety of beer flavors.
Like aging wine in barrels, climate conditions and temperature is critical when fermenting beer, and it’s carefully monitored electronically here.
Step 9. FILTER BEER (filter screens shown below) and send to BRIGHT TANK (shown above) to CARBONATE for 1-2 days.
Step 10. Send from Bright Tank to Keg, which then goes into the chill room, then from there to tap, to glass, to finally a happy you. ;-)
To refresh that process again in a nutshell from start to finish:
- GRAIN MILL —-> Mash Tun
- GRAIN + Hot Water (Hot Liquor) x 60 minutes = Mash
- 60 minutes rest, Mash makes Sweet Wort
- Vorlauf Cycle to clarify Sweet Wort (filter out husk & grain)
- Send Sweet Wort to Boil Kettle and start boil: 60 minutes BOIL CYCLE: add Hops and other flavors (fruits, etc.);
• Early add Hops = Bittering Hop
• Late add Hops = flavor & aroma
- OXYGENATE BEER as it cools in the HEAT EXCHANGER
- Send to FERMENTER and add YEAST
- FERMENT for 14 DAYS:
7-8 days ferment
6-7 days conditioning
- FILTER BEER and send to BRIGHT TANK to CARBONATE for 1-2 days
- KEG from BRIGHT TANK
From those various levels of roasted grain, you see above the end result with the flight of WBC samplers.
Above, manager Nathan holds up yet another flight of WBC samplers, where you notice the really dark beer, which is their Black Strap Molasses Porter, while that noticeably red-colored beer next to it is their Jalapeno Mouth.
WBC serves their beer ice cold on tap in three styles of glasses, all of which are an equivalent 14 oz total pour.
WBC also offers 64 fl. oz. Growlers for $16, which is just for the heavy-duty glass bottle, and another $12 to fill it up with the beer flavor of your choice. Which really is the way to go if you become a WBC regular, as you can refill it as often as you want, saving you more than 50% off the regular $6.50 price per 14 oz. glass served at the bar.
While we’re talking prices, the WBC’s Craft Beer & Cocktails menu is thankfully kept very simple, which I’m a big advocate of.
Same applies to WBC’s Grindz Menu, which must be noted was custom-designed specifically for them by a professional chef.
Above is WBC’s Preztel Crusted White Cheddar Sticks, served with their 808 Pale Ale Honey Mustard, Chipotle Hummus and Cracked Black Pepper Honey Dipping Sauces.
Next up is WBC’s Strawberry, Macadamia Nut Salad, with fresh spinach, Romaine, crispy onions and Bleu Cheese crumbles, tossed with Hana Hou Hefe Vinaigrette.
Next up, WBC’s Drunk Chicken Wings in a Honey-Sriracha Eee Pah IPA Wing Sauce. You can also get them in WBC’s Black Strap Molasses Porter BBQ Sauce.
Finally, to give you a scope in the variety of “Grindz” WBC offers, we have thier House Made Sausage Sliders, ground and stuffed in house with spent grain, Ala Moana Amber, and toasted Fennel, Mustard and Coriander Seeds, topped with peppers, caramelized onions and 808 Pale Ale Honey Mustard, served with Shoestring Fries.
I honestly didn’t try any of these dishes, as I just wasn’t hungry at the time. However I sat and chatted next to a few new friends I just made while sitting at the bar there, and they absolutely RAVED about it, noting they’d return just to have lunch there for the food itself. That said, I WILL return to try da’ grindz here!
I did try three different beers, starting first with manager Nathan’s recommendation, WBC’s Eee Pah IPA, as shown above. These are the specs and description:
Eee Pah IPA:
OG (Original Gravity = density taken before fermentation): 15.5
FG (Final Gravity =final density to keg): 2.2
ABV (Alcohol By Volume): 7.18%
IBU (International Bittering Units): 75
Two row and crystal malts make for a nice malty backbone to support the big IBU and aroma of our IPA. We use a combination of centennial, cascade, and simcoe hops in three separate boil additions to give bitterness, then dry hop with the same three hops to drive the intensity of the floral, piney, citrus, and currant aromas as high as possible.
And? I LOVE IT! One of the best IPA I’ve had yet. Dang, is it good! It’s simply smooth, well-rounded and overall full-bodied and flavorful. Ding-ding-ding, We have a winnah!
The next one I tried per Nathan’s recommendation was WBC’s Black Strap Molasses Porter. Here’s the specs…
Black Strap Molasses Porter:
Two Row, crystal and Munich malts create the base for the big flavors of chocolate and black malt to build upon. The chocolate and coffee flavor and aroma of the malts are highlighted nicely by the addition of black strap molasses in the boil. Goldings and Fuggle hops provide refined earthy bitterness that compliments the roasty flavors of the malt nicely.
And? As it appears, this is the one Guiness Stout fans will want. It has pronounced tones of dark chocolate and dark roasted coffee beans, while being “not too sweet, not too rancid, but jus’ right”. Sorry, couldn’t resist that one.
While I’m glad I tried, I honestly wouldn’t order it again, only because I’m not a dark chocolate or coffee fan. However if of either one you are, WBC’s Black Strap Molasses Porter is definitely the one for you.
The final three out of eight total flavors they have on tap I tried on this visit was WBC’s Jalapeno Mouth. Here’s the specs…
A malty, balanced amber ale provides the base for this beer which utilizes fresh jalapeno chilies in the boil. A wonderful green chili aroma is at the forefront of this beer and just enough pepper heat on the finish to draw you in for another glass.
And? Whew boy, this one’s HOT! Spicy hot! Cough-cough! I’m a total “wuss” when it comes to Scoville units, and this “Jalapeno Mouth” felt like it was packin’ some serious SU’s on my palate! I also thought it tasted a little burnt, as if they had used blackened roasted Jalapenos, not fresh ones. Perhaps that burnt flavor came from a darker grain they used. Still, I think fans of Mexican food will like this one.
Next time I visit I’ll order a sampler flight of the rest of WBC’s flavors on tap and do an update.
What I love about this place most besides the open air ambiance and overall positive “vibe, are the staff that work there. As shown above is Barback Justin (left), manager Nathan_front), and Bartender Nate (right), all of whom are totally awesome dudes.
Also including Barback Cory as shown above, to everyone else not pictured here, every staff member I talked with at WBC were super warm and friendly, and VERY knowledgeable about everything they serve, right down to all the technical stuff about how their beer is made.
In fact, Bartender Nate also works at Yard House on Lewers Street, a veteran there for 10 years now, so that guy KNOWS beer, and you can tell, he LOVES beer. They all do.
And you should too if you come to WBC, as that’s what it’s all about.
Summing it up, I’m VERY IMPRESSED with the new Waikiki Brewing Company. Great location right on the Waikiki strip, comfy and breezy open air ambiance, great beer, supah ono pub ‘kine grindz (as I’ve been told), and most of all a positive vibe from fantastic staff. Next time you’re in “Waiks” looking for a new place to get your drink and grindz on, check out the WBC!
Waikiki Brewing Company
1945 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
Tel. (808) 832-6871