A little over a year ago, there wasn’t a true craft beer bar on Oahu. That all changed when Troy Terorotua, then the beer buyer for Whole Foods Kahala, opened Real a Gastropub in May 2012. The place has been packed with beer geeks, new beer lovers and craft beer converts ever since. Real has become the gathering place for Oahu’s craft beer scene and you can regularly find one of a kind beers on draft that you can’t get anywhere else in Hawaii. Terorotua is serious about beer and so is the entire staff at Real. Every server is required to pass the Cicerone Beer Server test, which insures that you’ll be poured a proper pint. This July, Real will host its first beer festival with over 30 participating breweries. It’s amazing how much the Hawaii beer scene has change in one short year.
Where are you originally from and how did you end up in Hawaii?
I grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and ended up in Hawaii in 1997 when I was recruited by Chef Sam Choy to become Corporate Chef for his growing restaurant group.
Do you remember the first craft beer that really left an impression on you?
I really don’t remember my first but I do remember that it changed my outlook on beer. I am still amazed by what people are doing in the craft market on a daily basis.
How did you make the transition from working as a chef to a beer buyer?
I have always loved beer and cooking. Both require a love and a passion. I found that the transition was not as complicated as one would think. It’s always about what will make the guest happy.
What beers were you most excited about to bring into Whole Foods and introduce to Hawaii?
When Whole Foods opened, the portfolios of craft beer were slim pickings. I was excited when the Shelton Brothers catalog became available in Hawaii. This was a major turn for the better in overall craft beer for the state.
How did you know Honolulu was ready for its first real beer bar?
Speaking beer with people on a daily basis at Whole Foods and seeing the surprise and joy in their eyes when we had them taste or buy a new unknown brand. Beer people LOVE to talk beer and beer travel. I was also itching for a real beer bar that I would enjoy hanging out at.
What bars on the mainland inspired the creation of Real?
Toronado, multiple brewpubs up and down the west coast, Hamiltons, Lord Hobo and many, many more. I got inspired at each place I visited.
Where is your favorite place to go on a beercation?
San Francisco and the Bay Area
How do you and your staff decide on what to put on tap at Real?
We don’t. We have an idea that we want variety in styles and then just tap what we get and hope for the best.
Real has introduced Hawaii to many new breweries and beers. Has it been difficult approaching breweries and getting them to send beer to Hawaii for distribution?
Hawaii has always been a little more challenging for breweries to commit to. Shipping, logistics, pricing, quantities have always been items that we hear about from brewers. There are breweries we all LOVE and WANT but they are also in such demand that they cannot produce enough for their existing markets. It will arrive in time as those of us committed to the craft beer continue to build the culture.
What is the most exciting thing about the craft beer scene in Hawaii right now?
The infancy of it in Hawaii. I meet people every day that thank me and others pushing the cause and for turning them on to beers they had no idea existed and would never have considered trying. Converting people from macro to craft always makes me smile.
What breweries that are not currently distributed in Hawaii would you most like to see get here?
WOW! The list is too big to fit in your blog
Your entire server and bar staff are Cicerone Beer Server Certified. Why is that important?
If we as publicans in Hawaii really want to start a movement in craft beer, there is no other way then to be EDUCATED in the product. This is true in any industry and you must always strive to learn more and be educated. The Cicerone program does just that. Ten years ago, there was NOTHING!
Any insider tips to what people can expect at the upcoming Real Beer Festival?
Be ready to enjoy some of the finest beers available. Enjoy yourself… the food, the music and have fun. RESPONSIBALLY!
With the success of the Ward location are there any expansion plans for Real?
We are always keeping our eyes and ears open for an opportunity to bring more craft beer to the people. When it happens, we will be ready.
Have you ever wanted to produce your own beer?
Of course, doesn’t everyone?
Where do you see the Hawaii craft beer scene in five years?
I see Hawaii or at least Honolulu being on the track of San Diego, Portland, San Francisco or any other beer centric city. With the number of talented young entrepreneurial types and fabulously talented young chefs, we have nowhere else to go but BIG! People will start to see more and more beer themed establishments, breweries, and everything beer popping up starting very soon.
What is the beer style you drink most often?
It really depends on what is available, but I tend to steer towards IPA’s