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Brewpub in Kea‘au garners national notice

A Keaau craft brewery was named by the beer, wine and spirits website as one of “The 19 Best New Breweries of the Year, According to Beer Pros” for 2023.

Wailuku Brew Works in Shipman Business Park has been in business only seven months. It was included on Vinepair’s list on the recommendation of Fal Allen, a Hilo High School alum who is the brewmaster and general manager of the nationally known Anderson Valley Brewing Co. in Boonville, Calif.

Allen, a 35-year-plus craft brew industry veteran and a World Beer Cup judge said in Vinepair’s article that two things make Wailuku Brew Works, to him, the best new brewery of 2023.

“One, the wide varieties of delicious beverages produced. They make a line of interesting ales and lagers … as well as ciders, seltzers, and meads! And, equally as important, the place itself is great,” Allen said. “The small yet inviting interior of this pub is beautifully done with a massive live-edge bar made from local mango wood, and the fun and welcoming staff just make the place all that much more inviting.

“I can hardly wait to hang out there again and put back a few sumptuous pints.”

Jillane Bosscher, a part-owner of Wailuku Brew Works, called the endorsement of Allen — who started in 1988 with Seattle’s Redhook Brewery and writes books and articles on beer and the art of brewing — “humbling.”

“He’s one of the people responsible for making the craft brewing industry what it is today,” Bosscher said. “He’s an amazing and influential person.”

Bosscher manages the front of the house for the brewpub, which is at 16-205 Wiliama Place. The brewmasters are her husband, Brian Bosscher, a Hilo Medical Center emergency room physician, and Jake Parcels, who doubles as Wailuku’s operations manager. The fourth partner is John White, a senior instrumentation engineer for the Gemini Observatory.

“We like to make what we love and we’re sharing it with the people here in Hawaii,” Bosscher said. “We’ve taken our homebrewing and brought it up to the next level. It’s all handcrafted; we do it in a small batch. So we are able to change our flavors frequently.”

There are 24 taps with brews that are listed as flagship, seasonal or specialty. Some of the beers have clever names, for example Steineken, a portmanteau of Steinlager and Heineken. At 5.5% alcohol by volume, it’s described on Wailuku’s website as a “unique, local take on the ever-popular green bottle pilsner consumed in mass by our island ‘ohana.” Gorilla Handshake is a “refreshing citrus and juicy milkshake IPA loaded with local guava, lactose and galaxy hops.” At 6.5% ABV and a substantial 57 international bitterness units, it invites you to “swing for the trees.”

Then, there’s a beer name that invokes a healthy dose of local nostalgia, Rosie’s Boathouse — an erstwhile Hilo watering hole that’s still the topic of conversation for oldtimers. It’s a hibiscus and rose hips ale with a pink hue, 6.5% ABV and only 10 IBU.

“We actually named that after Fal. He was a busser at Rosie’s Boathouse,” Bosscher said.

There’s Coconut Porter that checks in at a potent 9.2% ABV with 40 IBU, a less potent Nitro Porter at 6.5% ABV and 10 IBU, and a dark beer called French Toast. On Wailuku’s website, a frosty glass sits invitingly next to a cask from Ohio’s Bissell Maple Farm. It’s described as “French toast in a glass.”

This French toast is probably not for breakfast. It has a kick — 9.5% ABV, 24 IBU.

“We have beer for everyone. We have beer for the dark beer drinkers. We have IPAs for the hopheads. We have a barrel-aged series that we’ve started,” Bosscher said. “I’ve gotten nothing but an amazing response, like ‘I love that you’re here’ and “I love what you’re doing.’ It’s been really gratifying. We also do our own ginger beer and make craft cocktails. We make our own mules.

“People always love the fact that they can come in and something’s always changing and different.”

Bosscher said Wailuku is starting up a food program. Charcuterie plates are available and there are rotating food trucks that park out front. Maona Lunch Shop is also next door and a Little Caesar’s Pizza is down the block.

She also said promotions are on the way — Saturday beer gardens with music, trivia nights on Wednesdays and cultural bar night, where different nationalities and cultures will be given the floor to talk about and encourage conversation about their homelands and cultures.

The taproom is open from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Wailuku Brew Works also will be present at the Kona Brewers Festival on March 9, the Hilo Brewfest — date still to be announced — and the 24th Legendary Boonville Beer Brewfest April 24 at the Mendocino Valley Fairgrounds, the Northern California home of Anderson Valley Brewing Co.

“When people find us, they go, ‘Wow, this place is really comfortable,’” she said. “And that’s what we’re going for, a place where people can come, be comfortable, talk story and enjoy really good craft beer.”

Email John Burnett at
Source: The Garden Island

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