After much planning and preparation, on September 13, the exhibition Hoʻoulu: The King Kalākaua Era opens at the museum. This is the first exhibition to describe a seminal period in Hawai‘i’s history—1874 to 1891—when Hawaiian art and culture, philosophy and practice were promoted through innovative means, ultimately to present a national identity to a global audience.

Now not only will guests get to view the exhibition, but they’ll also be able to have a taste of it…well, kind of.

For the first time, Waikiki Brewing Company is teaming up with the museum to launch a beer made specifically for Hoʻoulu. Slated to be called Hoʻoulu HoMA IPA, the beer will be launched in tandem with the exhibition and will be found at the exhibition’s opening reception, ARTafterDARK on September 28, and at Waikiki Brewing Company locations while the exhibition is open. 

The collaboration came about just a few months ago when Waikiki Brewing Company founder Joe Lorenzen saw the museum was hosting a spring benefit called Palette, which involved several local celebrity chefs. With a love for both beer and the museum, a collaboration seemed like a fitting idea to him.

The beer itself will be an English-style IPA, described as a “hoppy, moderately-strong, very well attenuated pale British ale…” according to the Lorenzen. In fact, this is the kind of beer that Kalākaua would have had the opportunity to sip on during his travels to England. A brewer since 2011, Lorenzen’s extensive knowledge and passion of beer led him to research how he could also incorporate indigenous Hawaiian ingredients and preparation into the recipe. The result? A delicious beer we can’t wait to taste.

We caught up with the California native by phone to learn more about what to expect with this new beer and the thought behind it.

What’s your background?

I was a restaurant manager here in Honolulu… we had some unused space there [and were figuring out what to do with it]. I was a homebrewer; I was always into beer, so whenever I see an empty space, I always think about putting brewing equipment in them. So I said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we brought beer back here?” From there we kind of went for it. I went to professional brewing school at the American Brewing Guild and started working on recipes and stuff. The rest has been kind of a wild ride, getting the brewery going.

What’s your favorite part about brewing beer?

It’s threefold, it’s almost like a layered thing that I like about it, which is that the base of it is just good hard work. You’re hauling heavy bags of grain, you’re moving kegs around, so at the end of the day, you have that sense of having actually done that physical work. You’re tired, you’re sweaty, the beer tastes extra good. The second layer is really at its root, it’s kind of a manufacturing job. We’re taking raw ingredients and turning them into products that we sell out in a marketplace, so it’s nice to be a part of something that creates jobs and helps support industry. But for me, the biggest and most fun aspect is the fact that it’s creative. It’s like being a chef. I’m developing a recipe when I’m brewing beer. It’s not just that mechanical work, it’s about flavors and thinking about what I want to put out to the world, what I want to give to the people that are gonna taste the beer, how I want them to experience the different flavors, and how I’m gonna bring together different ingredients in order to create that. It’s a very creative endeavor as well; ultimately to me, that’s the most rewarding part of it.

Lorenzen behind-the-scenes of Waikiki Brewing Company.

Lorenzen behind-the-scenes of Waikiki Brewing Company.

What was the inspiration behind wanting to work with the museum?

I became a member of the museum right at the beginning of this year and I absolutely loved it. I went kind of on a whim one day. I had the day off and had the most amazing time. I work a lot in the brewery so my time off is often pretty limited. I found that when I went to the museum, it was the most relaxing thing that I had done because as I walked through the exhibit, I was able to just be present with all the art. All of the emails and phone calls and texts and stuff melted away, and I could just be there—me and the art…Sometimes when you work a lot and you have a day off, you’re like, oh man, I work so hard, I deserve to just sit around on the couch or go out with friends and those sorts of things. [Visiting the museum] not only kind of rejuvenated me but at the end of it, I felt like I had learned something or experienced some cool, new things as opposed to just kind of throwing away my day off. So I became a member of the museum and started going pretty much every week.

Tell me more about the beer.

It was a beer that kind of was an emerging style in the mid- to late 1800s in England. Definitely during the time that King Kalākaua was traveling in Europe, it would have been a beer that he would have had a chance to be exposed to. It’s kind of interesting because it’s kind of a historical style but it continues to be made. IPAs, of course, are very popular. These days, people are making newer styles of IPAs that are a little more aggressively hopped or lighter in body, like West Coast IPAs or American IPAs. An English IPA is a little bit more subtle and has a little bit more of a malt character and a malt balance to it, and also uses an English yeast strain that contributes a little bit of character to the yeast itself. I wanted to do something to kind of tie it into Hawai‘i as well. I started looking into historical brewing in Hawai‘i and came across okolehao, which started off as a ti root-based beer but would kind of be distilled into a ti root-based moonshine. But I decided to kind of take that ti root base and include that into the beer…So you’ll get some native Hawaiian ingredients, we’ll bake the ti root in an imu to prepare it to develop the sugars. The ti root contributes their own kind of earthy sweetness.

A refreshing pint from Waikiki Brewing Company.

A refreshing pint from Waikiki Brewing Company.

What’s your favorite part about this whole process?

I haven’t made it yet but we’re going to make it probably in mid-August so we have it ready for the start of the exhibition. I’m really excited to do it because it’s different from a lot of the IPAs that we have…I’m kind of excited for this one because it’s a little more subtle representation of IPA and also the fact that we are tying in some local ingredients and some history into it—that’s what excites me about it.