Beer alert: Kakaako’s Home of the Brave Brewing may close

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It’s a sad thing to have to report, but Kakaako’s Home of the Brave Brewing is in danger of shutting down at the end of the year.

Rising costs and the loss of a key part of the business have stressed its financials, and Home of the Brave’s World War II Museum and Brewery will hold a fundraiser on Friday, Nov. 10 — Veteran’s Day weekend — in a final attempt to continue operations.

“Right now, we have enough to keep the lights on through the end of December. We’re hoping between now and then we can raise enough capital to keep it going,” says owner Glen Tomlinson. “But if not, all operations (at the Museum, Brewseum brewpub and Wiki Waki Woo Bar cocktail speakeasy) will have to cease.”

For those of you unfamiliar, Home of the Brave began as a World War II museum in 1991. Though its collection continues to grow thanks to donations from the families of veterans, the passage of time has brought declining interest.

So Home of the Brave launched its brewery and opened a brewpub called the Brewseum next door in an attempt to attract a younger audience and keep its collection alive. The same can be said for the speakeasy-style Wiki Waki Woo Bar that it opened last year. But HOTB’s military base tours that brought in the funds to run the museum ended last year because of Department of Homeland Security concerns and competition from bigger tour operators, and the cards have not played out as hoped.

“More than once we have been called ‘Honolulu’s best kept secret.’ That was cool for a while, but not so much anymore,” Tomlinson says.

If Home of the Brave closes, it would be the first brewery to shut down since Oahu’s craft beer industry took off in 2013. The Brewseum’s popular Wednesday trivia night, which is run by Glen’s son, Duke, and always packed, would disappear. The island’s only brewery-run speakeasy would be lost with the closing of the Wiki Waki Woo Bar.

Home of the Brave never built up the brewery capacity to stock many bars beyond their own, but that’s what makes it special. Drinking their beer is like drinking something your friend or family made — just a small batch in a small barrel, brewed one at a time in the back.

“World War II is ancient history to young people nowadays, so if beer needs to be the bridge to bring them in, so be it,” Glen said when he opened the brewpub. “When younger guests come to the speakeasy and I’m able to share some of these stories, they are blown away.”

Home of the Brave never built up the brewery capacity to stock many bars beyond their own, but that’s what makes it special. Drinking their beer is like drinking something your friend or family made — just a small batch in a small barrel, brewed one at a time in the back.

“World War II is ancient history to young people nowadays, so if beer needs to be the bridge to bring them in, so be it,” Glen said when he opened the brewpub. “When younger guests come to the speakeasy and I’m able to share some of these stories, they are blown away.”

Through its non-profit organization, the REMEMBER HONOR SALUTE Foundation, the Tomlinson family will host a fundraiser at the Brewseum on Friday, Nov. 10th that will include a silent auction. All proceeds will go towards the continued operation of the museum. It has also created a Go Fund Me campaign to accept donations.

If they can’t raise enough money, the Tomlinson family say, December will be the last month for both museum and brewery.

If you’ve never been, take some time now to check it out. Beer aside, what the Tomlinson family has created is nothing short of amazing, an incredible tribute to the men and women who served during World War II and a fantastic, nostalgia-inducing collection of 1940s memorabilia.

For more information, you can get in touch with Glen Tomlinson at gtomlinson@hawaii.rr.com.

Home of the Brave Brewing, Museum and Brewseum
909 & 901 Waimanu St.
Museum and Speakeasy open Friday and Saturday 5 – 8 p.m.
Brewseum open Tuesday to Thursday 5 – 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5-11 p.m.