Hawaii Strong: At Beer Lab Hawaii, creativity is on tap

Hawaii Strong: At Beer Lab Hawaii, creativity and innovation are on tap

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A trip to Beer Lab is all about creativity.

It’s where a plain lager doesn’t exist. Instead, brew lovers can try the Hokulea brew made with li hing mui and locally-grown starfruit.

Or they can sample the ube milkshake IPA.

All these combinations come from the minds of three nuclear engineers turned beer experts.

[This story is part of HNN’s “Hawaii Strong” series, profiling businesses in the islands adapting to the pandemic and its economic fallout. To suggest a profile, send an email to hawaiistrong@hawaiinewsnow.com.]

“We love to eat pupu and eat while drinking, so we wanted to create a beer that would tailor to that style,” said Beer Lab Hawaii co-founder Nick Wong.

“Another thing with Beer Lab, we were engineers with home brewing, so we wanted to create beers that we were gonna continually be pushing, continually rotating and keep pushing ourselves to make the best beer that we possibly can.”

That sort of innovation has been especially useful during the pandemic, which has been difficult for those in the bar and restaurant industry.

Several months ago, the Beer Lab Hawaii owners found themselves in the middle of COVID-rule confusion.

Despite city rules that seemed to allow them to remain open for takeout, the liquor commission shut them down.

“Probably the most difficult thing,” Wong said. “Navigating their regulations and really kind of from the top down hearing what we’re trying to do, what the city and state wants us to do and trying to implement that.”

After a temporary stoppage, Beer Lab was able to keep the taps flowing.

However, with no gatherings allowed, Wong and company found another way to bring its customers together with weekly releases of new concoctions available through online pre-order.

“We were really, really excited and really, really happy to share that with people,” Wong said. “Let’s give something to the people that they can see, get excited about on Wednesday, do something about on Thursday, and then pick up their beer on Friday and talk about it and share stories with your friends.”

Camaraderie that Beer Lab has also extended to fellow local businesses.

It’s a boost to companies like Sistah Truck, which operated primarily at University of Hawaii-Manoa but saw revenues dry up with students going online.

“It’s totally different for us,” said Sistah Truck’s Arturo Silva.

“You are coming from a food truck and come inside a restaurant was a big change, but definitely is very successful. We are very happy where we are right now and hopefully when the pandemic is over, we can do better on both sides.”

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