The Royal Brewery (Hawaii Community Development Authority)
Built from 1899-1900 and in the wake of the American annexation of Hawaii, this building was home to Hawaii's first major brewery, the Honolulu Malting and Brewing Company. The company was best known for the popular Primo Lager, a brand that lasted long after the building was sold to the American Brewery Company. Royal Brewery name is a reference to the beer made by that company, although Primo beer resumed production after Prohibition and was popular through the 1960s. Primo later became part of the Schlitz brewing empire before being produced by Stroh's and finally Pabst. The building is currently home to the Hawaii Community Development Authority and serves as a reminder of the numerous industrial buildings that arose during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Backstory and Context
Four notable breweries had already failed in Hawaii during the nineteenth century, so it took herculean efforts for the island's fifth brewer to find success brewing and distributing beer. That beer, known as Primo Lager, was produced by the Honolulu Brewing and Malting Company, in this historic brick brewery. The brewery opened in 1900 and the first public consumption of Primo Lager occurred on February 13, 1901. Primo prospered until Prohibition began in Hawaii in 1918, two years earlier than the mainland when the Eighteenth Amendment took effect on January 16, 1920.
Pale Ambrew emerged as Primo's chief rival beer, first served on draught from the American Brewing Company on April 9, 1934, followed soon by Royal. Both Ambrew and Royal remained in production until 1962, a year before the company folded; a failed modernization plan devised in 1960 did not solve the company's financial woes tied to declining sales. After sitting empty, renovations to the building took place in 1996, but problems arose during the renovation that assured the building's emptiness for quite some time prior to the acquisition by the Hawaii Community Development Authority.
Burlingame, Burl. "Building the Royal Brewery took fine masonry skills." Honolulu Star-Bulletin(Honolulu)June 20, 2004. , Sunday ed, Travel sec. http://archives.starbulletin.com/2004/06/20/travel/index2.html
Riconda, Dorothy. "Nomination Form: The Royal Brewery." National Register of Historic Places. honolulu.gov. November 15, 1971. http://hartdocs.honolulu.gov/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-14464/AR00153219.pdf
Schmitt, Robert C. "Hawai'i's Beers and Brewers." The Hawaiian Journal of History, vol. 31, 143-150. Published 1997. https://evols.library.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/10524/604/1/JL31149.pdf
Old Royal Brewery building,: By Joel Bradshaw - Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6161322
Newspaper Ad: Alice Kim, Hawaii Digital Newspaper Program UH Manoa Library via Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/KjNekX