Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Waikiki Brewing Co.Restaurant Insider
August 29, 2021
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: TONY GRILLO
ANNE LEE speaks with Waikiki Brewing Co. executive chef NICHOLAS STEWART and general manager ANDY FLARTEY
When you first walk into Waikiki Brewing Co., you see a big aloha sign and a feeling of warmth and cheer.
Being calorie-conscious, craft beer is somewhat foreign to me, so executive chef Nicholas Stewart and general manager Andy Flartey invited me to try popular items paired with their craft beer made by brewmaster Joe Lorenzen.With a wide array of menu items, including vegan/vegetarian food options, this brewery offers more than just handcrafted local beer.
AL: When did you first open your doors and how did you come up with name?
AF: Waikiki was the first location and opened in March 2015. Joe Lorenzen, our brewmaster, worked with the restaurant as a line cook. The idea was pitched to the owners to make this a brewery. Being that there wasn’t a brewery in Waikiki, they loved the idea and Waikiki Brewing Co. was born.
AL: What makes Waikiki Brewing Co. different from other breweries in Hawaii?
AF: We are the only actual, active brewery in Waikiki. On brew days, you can get all the sights and smells, authentic feel as you can see the product being made. Our brewmaster with his culinary background, creates each brew like a chef would create a dish.
AL: During the pandemic, Waikiki was a ghost town. How did you adapt?
AF: We had a small neighborhood watering hole type of environment established with locals and tourists. Both locations of our brewery are near many local residents. Most of Waikiki at the time was closed and boarded up. Our location being on the outskirts was favorable for us. Once we reopened our doors, there was a sense of normalcy and slowly people felt they were taking their neighborhood back. Takeout has kind of shifted, as it was a necessity. Now, it’s due to wait times so people can take it to-go.
AL: What is the restaurant’s mission?
AF: Chef Nick wants to show that beer and food pair well together; that beer is not a standalone item. Pre-pandemic, we offered beer pairing dinners quarterly, and we want to bring those back.We have options other than beer to satisfy everyone’s needs. If you are not a beer drinker, we have specialty cocktails and great wines on tap, even prosecco.
AL: Tell me more about some popular items and selected craft beer pairings.
NS: Shaved Prime Rib Sandwich ($19): kiawe wood-smoked prime rib with melted Swiss cheese and horseradish cream sauce on a toasted Amoroso hoagie roll and au jus. Beer pairing: 808 Pale Ale (the pale ale plays well with that smokey flavor).
Everything pretty much in the Superfood Salad ($15) is from Sysco: arugula, kale, red quinoa, celery, carrot, pickled onion, candied macadamia nuts and furikake chickpeas tossed in our housemade lemon vinaigrette (add chicken breast for $6 or coconut fried shrimp for $8). Beer pairing: Aloha Spirit Blonde Ale (the salad is complex; this doesn’t muddy up the flavors and it’s light and clean).
BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger ($17): with cheddar cheese, bacon, a Sysco onion ring, and our housemade mango bourbon barbecue sauce on a toasted Sysco brioche bun. Beer pairing: Craft Light Lager (a light beer that doesn’t compete with the flavor of the burger).
Veggie Pizza ($14): vegan if you omit cheese. Housemade pizza sauce with shredded mozzarella cheese, cherry tomatoes, fried garlic, and fresh basil. (Substitute for Sysco cauliflower crust, gluten-free for $5). Beer pairing: Hana Hou Hefe (it has a fruit profile, brighter beer that accents roasted vegetable flavors).
St. Louis Style Ribs ($24): All components for the sides come from Sysco. These are dry-rubbed, kiawe wood-smoked St. Louis-style ribs served with housemade smoked beans, potato-mac salad, sticky rice, cornbread and your choice of housemade barbecue sauce. Beer pairing: Eeepah IPA (this beer cuts through the smoke and cleanses your palate).
Beers are $7. During happy hour they are $5; 2-5 p.m. and 8 p.m.-closing daily.
AL: What are future plans for the restaurant?
NS: I like to keep things changing with running specials. Every Monday, we feature Burnt Ends, almost like a candied brisket, smoked roasted beef with a sweet barbecue sauce, double-smoked. I want to continue to create new dishes that speak to where we live.
AL: Anything else you’d like to share?
NS:We have nine core beers we feature year-round, and we have different styles in smaller batches that we feature monthly to give our guests different tastes and try out new recipes.
AL: What are some fun facts?
AF:We have this huge mural on the wall, grain to glass.We sat with an artist and went through our ingredients, our tanks, our purveyors and ingredients.You can see it come to life, highlighting the process and our local partners. At the very end of this mural, you will see the original piece of equipment that the beer was brewed on.