This craft beer is brewed with ocean water

Share Button

By Will McGough
Special to Frolic Hawaii

When it comes to making beer, people often think of the three ingredients: barley, hops and yeast. But Aloha Beer Co. brewmaster Dave Campbell thinks we should not to overlook what is perhaps the most important ingredient: water.

“The heart of a really good beer is really good water,” Campbell says. “Beers back in the day and still today are differentiated based on the water used to brew them.”

It makes sense. In today’s global economy, brewers can buy grain, hops and yeast from all over the world. So water, which always comes from where the brewery is located, is the grounding, local ingredient.

The Makai Pier Gose is brewed with seawater collected right here in Waimanalo.

The Makai Pier Gose is brewed with seawater collected right here in Waimanalo.

Gose (pronounced go-sa), a style that originated in 16th century Germany, uses coriander and wild yeast to achieve a balance of herbs and tartness. Brewers used brackish water from the nearby Gose River, which is what gives the style its signature salty taste and name.

So when Campbell decided to revive the recipe with a local twist, he turned to the ocean by collecting seawater near Waimanalo’s Makai Pier and adding it to the brew. Boiling sterilizes the seawater, leaving beind the strong finish of salt in the beer.

When you inhale, you get a big whiff of coriander along with a mix of citrus, pepper and herbs. It’s a cool experience to sip this beer, tasting the clean wheat brew and its salty finish, knowing it comes from just off our east shore.

As the style has evolved over the centuries, American brewers have added fruit and pushed the tartness to higher levels, which is why many people associate the gose style with sour beers. And instead of using sea water, most simply add salt. But Campbell remains true to the traditional way of making this unique brew by adding seawater.

Try a pint and you might agree — seawater never tasted so good.

Aloha Beer Co.
700 Queen St
Mon – Sat 4 – 11 p.m.