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Updated: Dec 31

Nestled in the heart of Honolulu, the Royal Brewery stands as a testament to Hawaii's rich brewing heritage. As the oldest extant brewery building in the state, it embodies a history that traces back to the early days when the craft was more a novelty than the burgeoning industry it is today. Though its vats and kettles no longer simmer with the promise of a fresh batch, the edifice itself remains a stalwart symbol of the bygone era, the very genesis of Hawaii’s brewing journey. The Royal Brewery, despite no longer producing beer, continues to hold its place as an important cultural and historical landmark, resonating with the echoes of its past.

Yet, the inception of beer culture in Hawaii is credited to a different name: the Primo Brewing and Malting Company. Founded in 1901, Primo was not just a pioneer but the progenitor of local beer production, serving as the first company to brew and distribute beer in the islands. The brand became synonymous with Hawaiian beer, cultivating a local and even international following over the years. Primo’s story, however, took a turn towards the end of the 20th century, when in 1998, the company ceased its operations, marking the end of an era for the brand that had become a cornerstone of the Hawaii Beer identity.

Despite the quieting of these historical giants, the spirit of brewing in Hawaii was far from extinct. Kona Brewing Co., founded in 1994, rose to carry on the legacy, rapidly becoming the torchbearer of the island’s craft beer movement. Though it may not have the chronological precedence of its predecessors, Kona has grown over nearly three decades to embody the innovation and persistence of Hawaii's brewing culture. It stands today not only as the oldest brewery in Hawaii still in operation but also as a beloved icon of Oahu's vibrant craft brewery scene, inviting locals and visitors alike to partake in the flavors that continue to shape the story of Hawaii beer.

Updated: Feb 1

Hawai‘i’s Regenerative Tourism Movement is a response to the various challenges brought about by traditional tourism practices, aiming to go beyond sustainability by actively contributing to the renewal, revival, and growth of the local environment, culture, and community's well-being. This approach acknowledges the strains that over-tourism has put on Hawai‘i’s delicate ecosystems, infrastructure, and local communities and seeks to redefine the relationship between the tourism sector and the resources it depends upon...

The movement is driven by the recognition that the islands' natural and cultural resources are finite and that the traditional model of tourism, focused on continual growth and often leading to exploitation, is unsustainable. Instead, regenerative tourism in Hawai‘i encourages practices that regenerate and revitalize the cultural heritage, natural habitats, and community spirit.

Well known for its vibrant culture, natural beauty, and unique agricultural products, craft beer has the potential to be a significant contributor to the islands' regenerative tourism efforts. By integrating locally grown ingredients, while respecting the values of the Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian people) and proper community involvement, local craft breweries can offer an authentic experience that supports environmental sustainability and cultural enrichment.

10 things for breweries to consider:

  • Native or Local Ingredients: Breweries can create beers using a mix of local and introduced/invasive ingredients such as passionfruit, coconut, or even coffee, highlighting the islands' unique flora and supporting local farmers.

  • Sustainable Brewing Processes: Implementing water-saving techniques, renewable energy, and waste reduction practices, breweries can minimize their environmental footprint, crucial in Hawai'i's delicate ecosystem.

  • Educating Visitors: Through brewery tours and tastings, guests can learn about traditional Hawaiian agriculture, local ingredients, and environmentally conscious brewing, fostering a greater appreciation for the culture and natural landscape.

  • Supporting Local Economy: By sourcing locally, craft breweries keep more funds within the state, bolstering smaller businesses, and agricultural workers who reflect the real Hawaiʻi.

  • Respect for Hawaiian Culture: Seek education and consultation before incorporating Native Hawaiian heritage into branding and storytelling for commercial purposes. With proper consideration, labels designed by native or local artists or names referencing places can share and celebrate the rich cultural tapestry with visitors.

  • Environmental Initiatives: Breweries can take part in or initiate local environmental projects, such as beach clean-ups, forest restoration, or protecting native species, aligning with the larger goals of regenerative tourism.

  • Community-Centric Spaces: Establishing breweries as community venues for local musicians, artists, and cultural practitioners to showcase their talents creates authentic encounters between tourists and residents.

  • Collaborative Partnerships: Partnering with local restaurants, tour operators, and accommodations to create craft beer experiences (like trails or food pairings) can encourage tourists to explore broader areas of the islands, reducing local congestion.

  • Responsible Consumption Education: Encouraging responsible drinking, understanding of alcohol limits, and respect for local customs and norms, breweries can contribute to the respectful atmosphere regenerative tourism promotes.

  • Investing in Local Workforce: Providing good working conditions, fair wages, and skill-building opportunities for local employees reflects the principles of regenerative tourism by ensuring the industry contributes positively to the lives of Hawaii residents and native people.

By actively contributing to Hawai'i's environmental preservation, celebrating and sustaining the cultural heritage, and supporting local communities and economies, craft beer can be a flavorful and enriching strand in the lei of Hawaiʻi's regenerative tourism tapestry.

Read more about Hawai‘i’s Regenerative Tourism Movement from the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority at

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

Small local breweries are on all major Hawaii islands- Oahu, Kauai, Maui and Hawaii Island (aka Big Island) and are a vibrant and essential part of the island's craft beer scene. Nestled among the lush landscapes and pristine beaches, these breweries offer a unique and authentic taste of Hawaii. Many of these establishments take inspiration from the islands' rich cultural heritage and incorporate local ingredients, such as tropical fruits and indigenous herbs, into their brews. Visitors and locals alike flock to these breweries to experience the distinct flavors and creativity that each one brings to the table.

One of the defining features of these small local breweries is their commitment to sustainability and community engagement. Being rooted in contemporary "island culture", many of these breweries focus on eco-friendly practices, like using solar power and recycling organic by-product. Moreover, they actively support local farmers by sourcing their ingredients from nearby suppliers, which helps boost the island's agricultural economy. With a strong emphasis on preserving the environment and uplifting the community, these breweries have become more than just places to grab a drink; they have become symbols of Hawaii pride and resilience.

In recent years, the popularity of small local breweries in Hawaii has been on the rise, as both residents and tourists seek out more authentic experiences that support the local economy. These breweries often host events, such as beer tastings, live music nights, and community service, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere that promotes the spirit of aloha (love) and mālama ʻāina (care for the land). Beyond providing a wide array of craft beers, these establishments serve as social hubs where people can connect, learn about beer, and strengthen relationships and the craft of brewing beer. As the craft beer movement continues to grow in Hawaii, these small local breweries remain at the heart of the island's contemporary culture and culinary identity.

Photos courtesy Honolulu Beerworks, Kakaako.

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