KAILUA, Hawaii - A Windward brewery is living up to its slogan, serving "Island Inspired Craft Beers."

Each glass, every bottle of brew the company puts out is 100 percent made in Hawaii. To some it might just be a cold glass of beer, but to Steve Haumschild of Lanikai Brewing Company, it's labor of love. 

"Beer, it's an act of passion and I was always a home brewer at home," Haumschild said. 

Haumschild says he and his friends always experimented with different products to create unique brews. So it wasn't long before he turned that passion, into a successful business.

Sitting on the doorstep of Hamakua Marsh and tucked away in a little side-alley in Kailua is the foundation where Lanikai Brewing Company began nearly four years ago.

"We built a small room just for sampling and if people wanted to come by and fill growlers, but we had no clue how popular that would become," Haumschild said. 

"You'd see the same faces over and over, every Thursday. If I didn't see someone, I was like, 'Where are they? What are they doing?" Tap and Barrel general manager, Katie Peterson added.
And for Haumschild, it was important to not make just any beer, but unique brews using local ingredients and formula that has translated into a craft paradise for locals and tourists.

"Hawaii's got these beautiful exotic ingredients and just trying to find ways to really respect those ingredients and to put them in the beer was the start of everything," Haumschild said. 

From fruits to native yeast, the list of Lanikai ingredients is long.

"We don't just go out and buy a fruit puree, it's like our brewers peel oranges," Peterson said. 

"We have strawberries from Kula, papaya from Kualoa Ranch, mac nuts from the Big Island, Pikake flowers . just everything we can find," Haumschild added. 

The brewery continues to partner with local farmers looking for more flavors, at times, even the employees forage for new ingredients.

'I hiked a little over 90 miles to gather enough of the ingredients. They were just sparse and spread out.. seeing them on the tree and bringing them back, cleaning em and processing em.. it's a labor of love," Haumschild said. 

There's a lot of love that goes into making their beer, and it's seen through the entire process, from how the fruit is cut to how it's served up cold.  

"We have volunteers that go over there all the time and work. It's hard to find a job where everyone wants to be involved at all times," Peterson said. 

On average, a new batch of beer takes about three weeks, according to Haumschild. Other specialty brews can take between 15 months to 2 years. Depending on the season, a new batch could produce thousands of bottles.  

As for the unique names of each brew? 

"I'm fortunate to be married to a Hawaiian woman and she knows a lot of the language. A lot of them, she'll help me to come up with... A beer we made not to long ago, we called Ku'uipo which just means sweetheart and it was a beer I made for my wife," Haumschild said. 

The most popular brew is the Moku Imperial IPA, brewed with Pikake flowers, citrus, mango and grapefruit. If you like Sour Ales, Lanikai Brewing Company uses Yuzu from the Big Island the make its beer called "Rubbah Slippah." Then there's Pillbox Porter made from the two rarest vanillas in the world, Hawaiian and Tahitian. Haumschild says brews are always changing, depending on growing season. 

And as the beer keeps flowing, the crowds keep on coming. Lanikai expanded last September, opening up Tap & Barrel, around the corner from home-base along Hamakua Drive.

"Once we kind of realized the community enjoyed this, we were like we need something like this in Kailua," Peterson said. 

"I mean it's everything. It's not about a beer, it's a product, it's a community gathering place that people can share a beer: whether it's to negotiate, laugh, talk story. It's the center stone of so many different cultures and it's great that we can be part of that and continue to foster that moving forward," Haumschild said. 

In the near future, Lanikai Brewing Company plans to add distilling and spirits to their menu of brews, and like all their products, it'll be made in Hawaii.