Craft beer lovers who visit Kauai are discovering a new brewpub that recently opened. I'm talking about Kauai Island Brewing. The brewery opened a few weeks ago in Port Allen, which is down (or up) the road from the Poipu area (south side of the island). They fly small helicopters and ultralight aircraft out of Port Allen...a point of reference for some folks who've been there.
|The now defunct Waimea Brewing Company|
To clear some of these questions up, I called the brewery and spoke to Dave Curry, brewmaster and vice president. Dave was kind enough spend 15-20 minutes answering questions and explaining the situation there. I'll hopefully meet him when I make a trip out there in a few months. Looking forward to that.
Who are these guys? Kauai Island Brewing was formerly known as the Waimea Brewing Company. It was located a few miles up the road inside the Plantation Cottages in Waimea. Anyone remember Waimea Brewing's tagline? World's Westernmost Brewpub. They've changed it to World's Westernmost Brewery, but you get the idea. These are the same folks. Curry has been the brewmaster for nine years.
|The new location basks in the late afternoon sun|
Why did they move to Port Allen? The simple version is the lease in Waimea expired in July 2011. Leases don't expire by accident and I'm sure there were reasons, but I didn't dig. It appears the Plantation Cottage owners had for some time wanted a more upscale dining spot in the vacated space...and you'll understand why if you visit. From a brewing standpoint, the Waimea space was small. I know because I visited several times. They were almost always low on beer choices. Not good. Curry said he and the Larsons wanted a larger space where they could put more effort into the beer. That could not have happened at the Waimea location.
|The main floor looks comfortable enough|
What about the pub? It's turns out they are partnering with the Kauai Island Grill for the food part of the operation (they had a similar arrangement for several years in Waimea).Patrons would never know it, though. Curry said the pub and the brewery appear to operate as one. In fact, they are separate, cooperative entities. My sources (family members who just returned from Kauai) report that the food is quite good, but check them out on Yelp if you want more reviews.
|Logo looks good on a good beer|
Any plans to distribute beers beyond the pub? The first goal is to make sure they keep up with demand at the pub, Curry said. After that, they may do some distribution to Kauai watering holes by keg. There are no plans to bottle, which makes good sense if you know anything about the very high taxes on beer and (empty) bottles in the state of Hawaii (see my earlier post on this topic here).
|A view at the interior from the mezzanine|
I'll have more to say about Kauai Island Brewing, particularly the beers, when I get out there later in the year. Until then, the craft beer surf is up on Kauai!