Hawaii Aloha Travel was invited to attend the recent “soft opening” event at the Hana Koa brewpub on a balmy and starlit Sunday night. The Grand Opening takes place on Wednesday, November 20.
Hana Koa Brewing is tucked away on Kawaiahao Street, just a block or two removed from the vibrant dining, retail, and entertainment hub of Ward Villages. It is easy to get to from Waikiki, easy walking distance from the center of the Kakaako action but miles away in comfortable atmosphere. Kakaako continues to attract more and more Oahu visitors every year. Locally owned businesses are a large part of that attraction.
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We were greeted at the door by manager Mike Milligan. He smiled and extended his hand in the kind of smart aloha shirt owned by Hawaii businesspersons. He was eager to discuss the opening, the brewery, the food, the staff, the merchandise, and the community-oriented (and family-friendly) business model that Hana Koa Brewing operates under.
Young Hawaii brewing, dining, and hospitality industry execs conversed over plates and pints. A handful of kids wandered the brewery, marveling at the sheer newness of the stylishly refurbished former Kakaako warehouse.
A flight of Hana Koa brews soon arrived. It began with the Breaktime Blonde, tasty and light. The Roof Top Pale Ale and Beyond the Sea Pale Ale were followed by the rich and smooth Espresso Your Inner Bean Stout, with a cold brew coffee’s kind of refreshment.
We enjoyed an amazing smoked marlin bruschetta, with the bread baked crispy but not abrasive. The lemon zest and dusting of paprika gave it a happy zip (it paired perfectly with the Breaktime Blonde). The pickled sweet onion rings tempura were meaty and light.
Much of Hana Koa’s food menu is shareable. There are also ramen dishes, a chuck/brisket, short rib house burger, slow-roasted pork butt tacos with tomatillo tacos. Milligan says, “There’s something for everyone on this menu.” Even kids, who can enjoy mac and cheese and other “Kiddos” Menu favorites. And the menu prices are far less than Oahu resorts or anchor brands.
Of course, beer is the business at Hana Koa Brewing. The operation is sleek and streamlined. Massive stainless steel tanks and state of the art monitoring technology gleam in the brightly lit brewery. It’s spacious and sparkling, with plenty of room waiting for the canning operation that is to come in near future.
Milligan is especially proud when talking about Kana Koa’s interview and hiring process. Applicants were asked about their favorite charities, and how they think Hana Koa Brewing might be a part of helping their community. “The person in the interview is a representative of that person,” he says. “We wanted to get to know the person behind the representative.” Everyone who works at Hana Koa is proud to be there.
Hana Koa Brewing has opened strong, embodying the best and brightest in Hawaii’s flavors and hospitality. Brewery tours are offered, and Hawaii Aloha Travel can help get incoming gastropub aficionados behind the scenes at Hawaii’s most promising new establishments.