Back in the day when I worked downtown — in Bishop Square, the buzzing epicenter — it was the happening place to be. I thought I had made it, having a job at the largest ad agency with some of the coolest people.
Oddly enough, for all its cache, there weren’t as many hip, cool places downtown as there are today. For decades all we had was Che Pasta on the corner of Alakea and Hotel, the only classy spot serving alcohol. Now you young uns have a plethora of uber hip spots for lunch, pau hana or dinner, and Che Pasta has been replaced with Square Barrels, a more chic craft beer restaurant.
Next week, in fact, you can take that hipness to another level with Square Barrels’ “Locals Only” beer pairing dinner.
Keaka Lee of the Pig & The Lady will be serving citrus and beets with Waikiki Brewing Co. Wailele Wheat Pale Wheat Ale 4.8% ABV 26 IBU.
Hide Yoshimoto of Izakaya Torae Torae is making a trio Appetizer of his famous dashimaki tamago, oyster with uni and ikura, and ahi tartare with nori tempura and serving it with Honolulu Beerworks CoCcoWeizen 5.8% ABV 36 IBU. This should be interesting, as I have only had his food with sake.
Don Boucher of Encore Saloon is pairing his seafood ceviche tostadas with Aloha Beer Co. Makai Pier Gose 4.5% ABV 14 IBU; Sean McMonigle of Square Barrels will have lamb Chops with twice-baked swirl fingerling potatoes and mint rosemary jelly (not from a bottle!) with Beerlab HI Nimbus IPA 7.2% ABV 55 IBU; and Shawn Go of Koko Head Cafe has a super local gateaux Basque with ‘ulu, Big Island figs, Mahina sauce, and ‘ulu creme paired with Lanikai Brewing Co. Mahina 2016, Barrel Aged Barley Wine 12% ABV 75 IBU.
I went in for a crash course in the beer tasting so I could appreciate next week’s dinner, but it’s geared for every level of knowledge. Square Barrels’ Thomas Ray said their events are all about the sharing and camaraderie, so everyone has a good time and learns something new.
I may be wrong, but I think most of the general population is accustomed to drinking the lighter pale wheat ale or even beers like the CoCcoWeizen, especially in Hawaii where it’s hot, and you would probably want something refreshing as you watch the sunset. I ended up liking the two on the left, the Beerlab HI Nimbus IPA and the Lanikai Brewing Co. Mahina 2016, Barrel Aged Barley Wine. It wasn’t so much about the higher alcohol content; they had more distinctive characteristics and didn’t taste like most beers. The Lanikai Brewing Mahina, as it turns out, is aged in American oak whiskey barrels for nearly a year along with raisins deglazed with local Hawaiian turbinado sugar, so you taste all of that — it’s a very rich drink. Of course, these two made me extremely full, too, so it’s good that they’re at the end of the meal.
This is just one of a few beer events going on around town. If you want to know more about the latest on tap, check out Will Gough’s blog today.
Square Barrels “Locals Only” dinner
August 8, 7 p.m. ~ $100
1001 Bishop St.