For trio, it’s the dawn of a brew day
By Nicole Kato
The best ideas are often brewed up when good friends gather to talk story. It’s a sentiment friends Nicolas Wong, Kevin Teruya and Derek Taguchi are more than familiar with. It was, in fact, while hanging out after work — at the time, they were all working for Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam — that the idea for their company, Beer Lab HI, was born.
The trio started brewing beer in the backyard, and the final results, said Wong, were pretty ono. They were brewing up to 10 gallons at a time and sharing the product with family and friends.
“We decided to open up a brewery to be able to share our love of beer with everyone else,” Wong said.
That was about eight years ago, and the brews Beer Lab HI whips up now are still as delicious as ever.
Beer Lab HI opened its first location on University Avenue nearly three years ago (the company celebrates its anniversary in March 2019) and followed that up with a Waipio facility and most recently a standalone shop at Pearlridge Center Uptown. It’s seen rapid growth, no doubt, but the expansion just goes to show how passion for a project pays off in big ways.
“We started this brewery based on the love of beer,” explained Wong. “The greatest reward is seeing the family and community that has been brought together because of the brewery.
“You can come to any of our locations at any time, and see friends and familiar faces that you know having beers or serving you from behind the bar.”
But brick-and-mortars aren’t the only areas in which Beer Lab HI is expanding. It’s also constantly working on new flavors — all formulated with a scientific approach. Of course, there are favorites like the flagship Koolauloa IPA and blonde ale Hakea, but the tap list changes on a weekly basis — which means there’s something new and exciting always on rotation.
“On the local beer scene, we are known for doing some crazy and outlandish things with our beer,” Wong shared.
Indeed, experimentation is something at the forefront of the brewery’s mission, and it’s all thanks to a trio of friends and their love of beer.
Wong, for his part, credits the business’ continued success to its focus on community and making everyone who walks through the doors — employee or customer — feel like family.
“We strive to create a very fun, enjoyable atmosphere for our customers and staff,” he said. “For us to accomplish this we have to ensure our employees are enjoying what they do and are having a great time doing it.”
The company, Wong added, is always looking for people who share that love of beer and want to share that passion with their neighbors.
“We are a 100-percent locally owned and operated brewery,” he continued. “That’s why our family and community are so important to us, and we strive to give back to the place that gave us so much.”
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PHOTOS COURTESY BEER LAB HI
COMPANY: Beer Lab HI
LOCATION(S): 1010 University Ave., Honolulu; 94-515 Ukee St., Ste. 310, Waipio; Pearlridge Uptown, 98-1005 Moanalua Road, Aiea
PHONE(S): 888-0913 (University); 517-3128 (Waipio); 744-2007 (Pearlridge)
OWNERS: Nicolas Wong, Kevin Teruya and Derek Taguchi
NOTEWORTHY: The pub’s beginnings started with three friends brewing beer in Mililani. Through constant experimentation and innovation, Beer Lab HI continues to strive to create the best possible beer.