ALOHA BEER CO. is ready to make a name for itself as Hawaii’s beer. The locally owned and operated brewery, founded by James Lee and Steve Sombrero, brews on Oahu with Dave Campbell as brewmaster. The company offers up five distinct styles of craft beer, plus limited seasonal beers throughout the year, which are now available at retailers throughout the state. To taste Aloha Beer fresh from the source, visit the 6,000-square-foot brewery headquarters in Honolulu. There is a full bar with 16 tap handles, pouring eight different beers, a stage for live entertainment, a multitude of screens for sports viewing, and food service from the adjacent Sam Choy’s kitchen, featuring an exclusive menu crafted specifically for Aloha Beer Co.
Pairing Local Brews With Comfort Food
“I’m from Hawaii,” he says. “I knew I wasn’t going to go to the Mainland to pursue a career in brewing. I thought I’d wait it out.”
Gordon Biersch opened at Aloha Tower Marketplace, Kona Brewing Company opened on the Big Island, and Campbell opened the brewery attached to Sam Choy’s BLC. He’s been perfecting his craft ever since.
But a resurgence in the movement, assisted by the enthusiastic promotion of craft brews by local bars and the recent openings of gastropubs Real and Pint and Jigger, has seen production at Campbell’s Aloha Beer Company almost double. And with the opening in June of a restaurant that showcases Aloha Beer Company’s own brews, the little brewery that could is at capacity.
In a quasi-industrial space on Nimitz Highway that’s home to Aloha Beer Company’s restaurant, the bar seats 22 people and features eight freshly brewed beers. A contemporary take on a classic beer hall, the no-frills dining room is cavern-like, and the menu offers island-style comfort foods. Fried pork with onions, fried oysters, kalbi short rib sliders and calamari are perfect pairings with ABC lagers and ales. Usual beer partners spicy chicken wings and kim chee fried rice are on the menu alongside a smoked turkey leg that begs for a beer to wash it down.
“The smoked turkey leg was either going to be a love it or hate it deal,” says Campbell, adding that it’s quickly become a best-seller. Paired with an Aloha Dark Lager with its toasty, light body, there’s a subtle smoke that’s offered by both beer and giant drumstick. And don’t mistake the nachos for the usual sad and soggy offering. The folks at ABC take their short rib nachos almost as seriously as they take their beer.
“We marinade beef short ribs in our red beer and then use it to cook them,” says Campbell, “then we break that meat down and put it in the nachos.” Try them during the daily happy hour, where much of the menu is offered at a significantly reduced price.
With the growth of the local beer industry comes a new era in local brewing. And with the current popularity of freshly brewed beer, it looks as though there’s room enough for island breweries of all shapes and sizes to survive.
“For everybody involved in the local beer industry right now, it’s all just coming together,” says Dave. “Everybody’s stoked.”
It wasn’t the fastest revolution in the world, but it was worth the wait.
Aloha Brewing Company 580 N. Nimitz Hwy. Honolulu 545-5959
Hawaii’s Aloha Beer Co. begins expansion to retail stores
Pacific Business News
Aloha Beer Co. is expanding to the retail market this week, sending bottles of its Aloha Lager to selected stores.
Six-packs and cases of the Hawaii-made beer are being distributed by Paradise Beverages to such stores as Costco (Nasdaq: COST), Whole Foods Market (NYSE: WFM), Safeway (NYSE: SWY) and 7-Eleven. The company is planning an event to mark the launch at its Honolulu brewery next to Sam Choy’s Breakfast, Lunch & Crab restaurant on Dec. 20.
“With the end of the world supposedly upon us, we figured that now was the perfect time to start bottling our beer,” Aloha Beer Co. co-founder Steve Sombrero said in a statement, with a tongue-in-cheek reference to the belief by some that the world will end in 2012. “If the team at Aloha Beer Co. happens to not survive the end of the world on Dec. 21, we feel those that do survive deserve to have access to Hawaii’s best beer.”
The company is bottling just 6,500 cases of the beer, Sombrero noted.
“In all seriousness, we are very excited about the launch of our first bottled product, which is a regional beer perfectly suited for Hawaii’s palate,” Brewmaster Dave Campbell said. “More than any other beverage, Aloha Beer embodies the classic Hawaii lifestyle.”
Sombrero, president and principal broker for NAI Chaney Brooks, founded Aloha Beer Co. in 2011 along with partners Campbell and James H.Q. Lee, a Honolulu tax attorney.
Aloha Beer Company: Craft Beer Comes Alive
Pacific Edge Magazine
By Charlotte Woolard
Dave Campbell climbs atop a hulking copper kettle in the slim brewery where since 1997, he had brewed Big Aloha beer at Sam Choy’s Breakfast, Lunch & Crab. The polished sheen of the boiler may be familiar, but the brewmaster is working on something new.
He and his business partners have launched Aloha Beer Company, and in June, opened a beer hall in an adjacent warehouse, where the eight-tap lineup features five Aloha-branded offerings and three rotating specialty selections.
“We’re brewing more styles of beer, and just a lot more of it,” Campbell says. His regular Aloha line features light and refreshing lagers and ales that match a Hawai‘i palate attuned to drinkable green-bottle beers. The specialty brews add dimension—the opportunity to sip a thick Kiawe honey porter, for example, or sample a crisp, spicy roggenbier.
It’s a good time to launch craft beer. The Brewers Association, which tracks small, independent brewers in the United States, saw sales rise 14 percent in the first half of 2012, despite the sluggish performance of the overall beer category during the same period.
The number of small breweries nationwide also continues to climb, with recent Hawai‘i launches including Aloha Beer, Kaua‘i Island Brewery & Grill, Big Island Brewhaus and Hawaiian Islands Brewing Co.
“Recently there has been a surge of new breweries,” says Thom Cornog, business development manager at Hawai‘i distributor Paradise Beverages. “People have been more willing to experiment and taste new beers. I’m definitely seeing craft beer sales go up.”
Steve Sombrero is celebrating his well-timed launch. The commercial real estate executive has been sitting on an Aloha Beer business plan he drafted in 1992, while attending the University of Hawai‘i.
“It was my executive MBA paper,” he says. “We were asked to write plans for an imaginary company.”
His vision earned him an “A,” but without capital to launch the venture, all he could do was register the Aloha Beer trademark and wait.
Two years ago, he partnered with Campbell and James H. Q. Lee, cofounder of Sam Choy’s, to fund the brand’s launch.
Aloha Beer Co. now owns the restaurant, brewery and brewpub, a symbiotic relationship in which Sam Choy’s serves Aloha Beer and also shares its kitchen with the bar.
The brewpub’s menu is eclectic, including such dishes as smoked pork, ceviche and kalbi short rib sliders—simple food meant to complement the main ingredient.
“Our primary business is beer,” Sombrero says. “We opened the beer hall to promote the beer and give customers a chance to talk to the brewmaster.”
Aloha Beer Company’s beer hall is a well-lit, airy establishment equipped with a stage and large-screen televisions. It’s a gathering place for everyone from families and young couples to pau hana crowds. Customers can sit at the bar or a table, or lounge on cushioned furniture.
“Our plan is to be Hawai‘i’s beer,” Sombrero says. “Then we want to be a beer that is sold throughout the world. We need to step up our production and bottle and can beers. We need to be the beer company that is [working] with all of the Hawai‘i companies that are reaching out to global markets.”
It’s an ambitious plan. In addition to scouting for an on-island bottling and canning facility, Sombrero says Aloha Beer plans to launch a Waikiki beer café with a menu that transitions from morning coffee and malasadas to evening brews and pub food. He’s working with tour companies to bring international tourists to the brewpub and push the Aloha Beer name into the global lexicon. He’s also looking to take Aloha Lager to the West Coast, Canada and Japan next year.
“We’re taking a huge risk, but we’re confident,” Sombrero says. “The most successful beer brands were launched in a poor economy.”
The Hawai‘i market has responded well to the new brand, the partners say. Production doubled within the first few months, and the onsite brewery eventually will need to be expanded.
The company also has entered the wholesale market, earning spots on the taps at area bars and also placing glass growlers that contain about a six-pack of its Aloha Lager on the shelves at Whole Foods Kailua. The growlers and kegs can be cleaned and refilled at the brewery.
All this growth amplifies the reach of Campbell’s long-term aesthetic.
“I brew beer for Hawai‘i,” says the Honolulu native, who has earned a reputation as a leader in the state’s homebrew and craft brewery circles. “It’s a real artisanal relationship. You pour a lot of your ideas into what a beer should taste like. When you see people enjoying it, it’s amazing.”
Aloha Beer is a new beer with a familiar name
|Steve Sombrero and Dave Campbell at the Aloha Beer
microbrewery, located in Sam Choy’s Breakfast, Lunch
and Crab restaurant.
Photo: David Croxford
With all the different Hawaii beers coming onto the market, it helps if people think your new brew is a long-time favorite.
“When I talk about Aloha Beer, for some reason, many believe it already existed from a long time ago,” says co-founder Steve Sombrero, referring to the feedback he gets on overseas trips. “They recall drinking Aloha Beer and actually remember that it tasted good. … It’s a natural brand for Hawaii.”
Aloha Beer Co., a new Honolulu microbrewery, started rolling out kegs of its craft beers to local bars and restaurants this month, with plans to sell bottles in Hawaii stores starting later this summer and expand overseas next year.
Sombrero, owner and president of the real estate company NAI Chaney Brooks, is partnered with James H.Q. Lee, a Honolulu tax and real-property attorney, and Dave Campbell, a long-time Hawaii brewmaster.
Before the partnership, Lee owned Big Aloha Brewery, a microbrewery based in Sam Choy’s Breakfast, Lunch and Crab restaurant, where Campbell also served as brewmaster. Aloha Beer is now produced at the factory on Nimitz Highway that once produced Big Aloha’s brews.
Hawaii already has other popular microbreweries, but Campbell says a strong local market for craft beers means there is plenty of room for growth. With its strong Hawaii brand, Aloha Beer’s expansion outside of the Islands is a key goal.
“One of the things is that our product sells itself, because we have such a great name, Aloha Beer,” says Sombrero. “At the end of the day, we’re not selling beer, we’re selling Hawaii. People love Hawaii and, because we care about Hawaii, I think we’re the right people to make it happen.”
Locally owned and operated brewery Aloha Beer, founded by James Lee and Steve Sombrero, with Dave Campbell as the Brewmaster, is a label that you’ll probably see popping up on shelves soon. Here’s a sneak peek at the new, vastly expanded brewery and brewpub that could very well be Honolulu’s next pau hana hot spot.
What was once a warehouse/storage space at the side of Sam Choy’s has been transformed into Hawaii’s latest local brewpub, Aloha Beer Co. The 6000 square-foot space is designed to be a place to eat, drink and watch live entertainment. Although Sam Choy’s has had its own small brewery for a while, the opening of Aloha Beer marks a new era and the formal start of a new company, with a unique product that will be distributed to stores around Hawaii.
There will be 16 tap handles with eight different beers at the full bar, plus food service from the adjacent Sam Choy’s kitchen, featuring an exclusive menu of gourmet local fusion pupu specifically designed to complement the beer.
Curious? Take a look!
Aloha Beer Company, a brewpub and brewery in Honolulu, opening soon
Dave Campbell, dubbed “the father of craft beer” in Hawaii by some of his peers, has been brewing at Sam Choy’s Breakfast, Lunch and Crab for years, but now, he has his own space and new name: Aloha Beer Co. It’s not far from his old site, though—Aloha Beer has set up just on the other side of Sam Choy’s. With 6,500 square feet, Campbell has doubled his production facility and added a brewpub, a place to eat, drink and enjoy live music.
The brewpub officially opens June 20 with Aloha Beer’s fresh brews on tap: the Aloha Lager, Aloha Red, Aloha Dark, Aloha IPA, Aloha Blonde, Steam Ship Lager and Kiawe Honey Porter.
Food for the new brewpub will come out of Sam Choy’s kitchen, but it will be a separate menu. Expect traditional favorites like poke, fried rice, chicken karaage, kalbi and pork chops as well as new twists like luau crab dip, spicy ahi with kale chips, shrimp with garlic butter and Ehu Beer sauce. Oh and turkey legs. Because who doesn’t want to eat a ridiculously big hunk of meat with their hands when drinking?
(Aloha Beer Company was originally planning a grand opening celebration to benefit University of Hawaii football. The fundraiser has been postponed. Check back for the new date when we find out.)
Opens June 20, Aloha Beer Company, 580 N. Nimitz Highway
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – University of Hawaii Head Football Coach Norm Chow, Na Koa Football Club and an estimated 400 guests will join Aloha Beer Company as the Hawaii-based brewery celebrates its grand opening on Tuesday, June 19, 2012 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The celebration is open to the public, and will take place inside the new brewery located at 580 N. Nimitz Highway in Honolulu.
“We cannot wait for people to come and experience all that is Aloha Beer Company,” stated Aloha Beer Company co-founder Steve Sombrero. “More than any other beverage, Aloha Beer embodies the classic Hawaii lifestyle. With the generous spirit of Aloha as a namesake, this is a premium beer that combines the smooth balance of ohana with the refreshing, hang-loose attitude of a Sunday barbecue.”
The Aloha Beer Company grand opening celebration will feature:
· Five food stations, presented by local chefs;
· Performances by Amanda Frazier and the Boys, and other local musicians;
· Prizes and giveaways;
· Freshly brewed craft beer from Aloha Beer Company.
Seven different beers will be on tap for the celebration, including Aloha Lager, Aloha Red, Aloha Dark, Aloha IPA, Aloha Blonde, Steam Ship Lager and Kiawe Honey Porter.
Tickets are available on the University of Hawaii Foundation website. Net proceeds will be donated to Na Koa Football Club, in support of University of Hawaii football.
“We are very excited about what we have created, which is a regional beer brand for Hawaii’s palate,” added Aloha Beer Company Brewmaster Dave Campbell. “Our beers are somewhat stylized and idealistic in nature, but their roots are definitely in authenticity. Our beers represent what Hawaii’s lifestyle is today, and we cannot wait for everyone to try them.”
Once opened, the 6,000 square foot Aloha Beer Company brewery, located adjacent to the Sam Choy’s restaurant on Nimitz Highway, will be the headquarters where consumers can experience and enjoy all that is Aloha Beer. The space will feature the brewery with large holding tanks, piping and fresh craft brews on tap, and will be a Hawaii inspired, locally themed entertainment venue. There will be 16 tap handles, pouring eight different beers, a full bar, beer tasting area, stage for live and broadcasted entertainment, 22 screens for sports and other programmed viewing, and a Hawaii-based merchandise area featuring Aloha Branded and locally crafted products. Food service will be from the adjacent Sam Choy’s kitchen, featuring an exclusive menu crafted specifically for Aloha Beer Company.
Aloha Beer Company is a locally owned and operated brewery, with beer brewed on Oahu. The company was founded by James Lee and Steve Sombrero, with Dave Campbell as the Brewmaster. In addition to the brewery, Aloha Beer Company has begun slowly distributing its beers to select bars and restaurants. Long term plans include bottled beer in markets and liquor stores. The release date for the bottled beer is yet to be determined.