Steve Haumschild, an entrepreneur who grew up in Wisconsin, surfed and homebrewed with Brandon Cody going back to early 2000s. He trained at Chicago’s Siebel Institute and co-founded Lanikai Brewing Company with Cody, Dan Frerich and Al Darling. Now, the CEO/Brewmaster and his partners operate a 10-barrel brewhouse near downtown Kailua, complete with a weekend only tasting room that houses three barstools, green walls, and two taps. Kegs are rare for Lanikai Brewing Company, which produces 95% packaged beers.
So far, Lanikai Brewing Company produces only two beers, though Haumschild says they have recipes for 40 different styles on the books. 808 Imperial IPA is an 8.1% ABV beer brewed with pikake, an aromatic flower that was in a jar on the tasting room counter. I preferred Pillbox Porter, a 6.5% Porter crafted with both Tahitian and Hawaiian vanilla, which deliver different qualities and lanolin levels. They source Hawaiian vanilla from Hawaiian Vanilla Company, which I visited on the Big Island in 2011. This was a beautiful Porter, nice and toasty, with sweet aromatics from twin vanillas and 45 whopping IBUs, which is high for any Porter and provided balancing hoppiness.
Bonus: right after visiting the brewery, my wife and I hiked the nearby Pillbox Trail. This steep, technical trail starts at Mid Pacific County Club and quickly rises above Lanikai Beach, with views of the Pacific Ocean and Ko’Olau Mountains. The rocky trail leads to a pair of concrete, graffiti-coated pillboxes that served as observation points during World War II. Haumschild told me that he runs this trail five days a week. I can see why he was inspired to honor Lanikai’s excellent Porter with the Pillbox name.
Tasting Room Hours: Saturday & Sunday: 12 PM – 5 PM, unless the surf’s up.