WELCOME TO THE HOME OF LIQUID ALOHA
Started by a father and son team in 1994, Kona Brewing Company is now the top-selling craft beer in the islands and is distributed throughout all 50 states and over 30 countries. To support growing demand, Kona Brewing expanded its capacity with the construction of an all-new, 30,000 square foot, state-of-the-art brewery near the original location on Hawai‘i Island. In addition to dramatically increasing production in Hawaii, the new brewery would also provide more earth-friendly canned brews to the islands.
W|W was tasked with designing and producing a dynamic, large-scale tour experience that tells the story of the brand, educates visitors about Kona’s unique brewing process, and illustrates the facility’s innovative sustainability features that make it one of the most sustainable breweries in the world.
We took stock of Kona’s extensive library of brand elements, including its iconic illustrations of scenes from around the islands. Offering a rich source of inspiration to our team, and a memorable brand environment to the brewery’s visitors, W|W applied the brand style and developed additional illustrations to create an immersive experience throughout. The lower floor drew heavily on elements and colors from the Wailua Wheat Ale illustrations, while the second floor looked to Longboard Island Lager for inspiration.
Guests are first welcomed to the "Home of Liquid Aloha" by a waterfall, bringing to life Maui's Wailua Falls, the inspiration behind the lushly illustrated packaging for Wailua Wheat Ale. Dimensional letters cut from corrugated aluminum help to establish a rustic sophistication for the space.
As a centerpiece of the Brewery experience, we designed an expansive, multimedia timeline exhibit detailing Kona Brewing's origin story and growth trajectory since its founding in 1994. Key milestones are eclectically displayed, whether with custom reclaimed wood shelves to display vintage packaging or miniature 3D-printed silos. A retro TV display loops Kona Brewing's first TV commercials, and a miniature VW bus is wrapped – our production partner’s second-smallest vehicle wrap project ever – to resemble the company’s first branded vehicle.
A process wall display also takes visitors through an overview of Kona Brewing's special approach, from raw grain to a dash of aloha.
Next up, visitors are led to the second floor for an overview of the considerable sustainability efforts that have gone into making the new brewery a world-class example of environmental stewardship. Features like solar power, CO₂ recovery, and onsite water generation make it one of the most sustainable breweries anywhere. Even hundreds of pounds of food waste from Kona Brewing's restaurant is donated to local pig farmers.
Following the Sustainability Hall, visitors proceed onto the Observation Deck for a firsthand look at the brewing process. Displays around the perimeter break it down, step by step from processing the grain to packaging.
The new brewery can potentially brew up to 200,000 kegs per year – eight times the amount of their former Hawaiʻi brewery – and every drop will stay in Hawaiʻi.
The brewery also hosts its new canning line with cans manufactured in Hawaiʻi. As there are no glass bottles manufactured in Hawaiʻi they plan to switch entirely to cans, which they believe raises the quality of the beer (cans let in less UV light, have less chance of air leakage, and have less environmental impact).
THE THIRSTY GECKO
The tour concludes with a tasting experience in the brewery's taproom, which W|W named and branded as The Thirsty Gecko, a tribute to the brand's mascot. Outfitted with a map of the islands, guests can explore all the locations that have inspired Kona's lineup of brews. A tasting notes display details all the nerdy, nitty-gritty details for beers that include locally-sourced ingredients, such as mango, lilikoi, guava, and pineapple. A donation cart allows each guest to "Share Some Aloha" as Kona Brewing makes a contribution to a local cause.
HOP ON BOARD
As part of the tour, visitors will be shuttled from the Brewpub to the Brewery. W|W designed the shuttle wrap to be bright and fun, as it will also take the brewery story on the road (literally).
PLANNING THE EXPERIENCE
Of course, all of this required a whole lot of planning to pull off. We knew we would have to start at the ground level with background research to fully understand Kona's brewing process, explore what would be possible in the new space, and get a sense of what other breweries were offering to their visitors. It was also clear that tasting a few beers would be necessary (ok, maybe more than a few). When duty calls, we answer.