Hawaii craft brewing at Village Bottle Shoppe

Hawaii craft brewing Village Bottle Shoppe
Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > Hawaii craft brewing at Village Bottle Shoppe

I am, admittedly, not much of a beer guy. Sure, I like a frosty one now and then, usually a Guinness. If I’m bending the elbow with friends, I’m likely sipping on a fine bourbon. I’m also highly aware of the remarkable Hawaii craft brewing community that has prospered and grown impressively over the past decade or so. I recently went to Village Bottle Shoppe at Salt Kakaako to educate myself on the ancient art and sample the fine establishment’s offerings to better inform visitors keen to sample Hawaii’s homegrown craft brews.

Sometime a long time ago, I sort of gave up on microbrews. It seems at some point they all tasted the same to me; every microbrew was a “hoppy” IPA without much distinction. I take a lot of heat from some of my more erudite beer-loving friends for switching to hard seltzers. At Village Bottle Shoppe, I was happily disabused of the limited, uniform notion that all microbrews are the same. But I’ll probably still rib my more sophisticated friends for being Beer Snobs.

Hawaii craft brewing Village Bottle Shoppe
Ballast Point Cream Ale at Village Bottle Shoppe. Delicious.

The Brewers Association reports that in 2022 there were 28 craft breweries in Hawaii, with each of the main Islands being home to one or more (most are on Oahu). Hawaii craft breweries produced more than 187,000 barrels of craft brews in 2022, ranking 30th among US states. We’ve written about some of those breweries here on the HAT Blog before, and it seems likely that we will again.

Village Bottle Shoppe isn’t a brewery, but they do offer a fairly deep selection of craft brews created right here in the Aloha State. But their research takes them far and wide and brews from around the US and the world are on regular rotation on the dozen-or-so unmarked taps at the bar. The canned and bottled selection at Village Bottle Shoppe is vast, and the refrigerators take up one whole wall, floor to ceiling.

Hawaii craft brewing at Village Bottle Shoppe
A dizzying selection of craft brews at Village Bottle Shoppe.

I opted for “The Vine” from Cascade Brewing in Portland, Oregon to start. I’d already had the locally brewed selections on offer (a perk of having a friend who hosts the popular beer-lover’s podcast The Art of Beer). The Vine was delightfully tart and slightly fruity, an American Wild Ale w/White Wine Grapes aged in oak barrels.

Next up was the “Calm Before the Storm Cream Ale” from Ballast Point Brewing in San Diego. It was a revelation. Smooth and almost buttery, it didn’t have a hint of the brazen and trendy “hoppiness” I grew weary of long ago. I was an immediate and enthusiastic convert. (I have always like Boddington’s Cream Ale, but can’t seem to find it on tap anywhere on Oahu).

I finished with the “Double Barrel Maestro Barleywine” from Alesong Brewing in Eugene, Oregon. It was robust, like roasted coffee, and at 16% ABV, it packed a punch. I handed the car keys to my wife.

Hawaii craft brewing at Village Bottle Shoppe
Limited outdoor seating for people watching.

There’s a limited but tasty food menu at Village Bottle Shoppe, and the Cheddar Melt Steak Hand Pie washed the selections down perfectly. It’s a relatively small place with a bar, high-top tables and indoor seating. There are a handful of picnic tables outside perfect for people watching and making new canine friends in the dog-friendly establishment.

Village Bottle Shoppe doesn’t make the stuff, but it is a vital nexus of the Hawaii craft brewing community. After all, brewpubs often feature only their brews. That’s fine. But Village Bottle Shoppe offers visitors and residents a chance to sample multiple products from a variety of Hawaii breweries in one (responsible) sitting. It’s locally owned and operated, and while it doesn’t feature local craft breweries exclusively, they do support those breweries and espouses the “buy local” ethos admirably. Highly recommended.