LIHU‘E — Aloha Ginger Beer, a non-alcoholic beverage company on Hardy Street in Lihu‘e across from the Lihu‘e Civic Center, started from humble beginnings and a passion to help local farmers and businesses throughout the pandemic.
“We have been in sales now for a year and a half,” said Aloha Ginger Beer Owner Casey Paul. “We essentially tested the market with the farmers’ market at Kaua‘i Community College and at the culinary market held at the (Shops at) Kukuiula in Koloa.”
Inspired by his passions for brewing beer as a hobby and helping local farmers, Paul began his business venture.
“Prior to coming to the island five years ago, I was a farmer in the mainland,” Paul said. “When I got here, my wife took a job at Wilcox and we were looking for sustainable agriculture, to work with local farmers, to help benefit their local farms. I love ginger beer. I used to home-brew for fun as a hobby. Playing around the local ginger root (eventually led) to make Aloha Ginger Beer.”
Paul said his business shut down in March during the beginning of the pandemic, and reopened in August of 2020.
“We got the Small Boost Grant,” Paul said. “It was a big help to get us going again, and I got that through Common Ground’s incubator program. That helped me reestablish myself back into the market.”
His business got a storefront right before Christmas, and his products sold out.
Paul said the flavors currently served include pineapple, watermelon, carrot, classic, and turmeric ginger.
Ginger has been shown to aid against inflammation, he said.
“We have six pounds per keg, and we use local ginger, local honey, organic cane sugar and seasonal fruits from the farmers’ market,” Paul said.
Paul has two employees besides himself and said it’s been an interesting road so far and he’s fortunate to have collaborated with other businesses on Kaua‘i.
“I’m hoping things will take a turn in the next year,” Paul said. “So thankful for the local community. We really been trying to focus on locals and what people want and need. When we shut down, people reached out to us to see if we are still making ginger beer. They wanted to help us on social media, like Rainbeau Jo’s, Pau Hana Pours, Aloha Fridays and more.”
Besides supporting other local businesses by having their products on his shelves, Paul said he is now making floats with Lappert’s Hawai‘i ice cream.
“Now I’m just trying to get established and branch out more in the community,” Paul said. “The support has really been great.”
Paul said even though his storefront is not on Rice Street, he feels the love.
“Folks coming from the County Building,” Paul said. “Business is still slow, but people walking around, stopping in. That’s a big push from the community from Rice Street and the downtown area. Although we are off from Rice Street, we feel apart of it. It’s great.”
If residents remember the legendary arcade game Pac-Man, Paul said keiki and adults are welcome to play on his game inside his store.
Paul expressed gratitude to employees Karen Herrera and Ayana Kemmler.
“Karen has been with me since the beginning of the business,” Paul said. “I just want to thank them both for all that they do,” Paul said. “They are working hard with me, and they are amazing.”
Finally, Paul speaks of his appreciation for the rock in his life.
“My wife Heidi has been such an amazing supporter of the business, and has helped me to take a chance with this storefront during these uncertain times,” Paul said. “Heidi helps with many aspects of the business as well.”
For more information, see www.alohagingerbeer.com/.
Stephanie Shinno, features, education, business, and community reporter can be reached at 245-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.