The San Carlos location will feature a balanced drink menu, with 14-18 beers on tap, seltzers and a local wine selection. Courtesy Hapa's Brewing Company.
By Stephanie Gerson
In 2007, South Bay natives and childhood friends Brian Edwards and Derek Tam started experimenting with homebrewing in Edwards’ mom’s kitchen after graduating college, testing recipes for various beers.
A growing passion for brewing drew the duo to leave behind their jobs in tech and finance to fully commit to starting their own brewery.
“When we first started brewing in my mom’s kitchen back in the day, we would half-jokingly refer to ourselves as Hapa’s Brewing Company and the name kind of stuck,” Edwards said.
Hapa’s is in reference to the Hawaiian term “hapa,” meaning a person of mixed ancestry. Edwards and Tam wanted to choose a name that was representative of their Japanese American and Chinese American identities as well as their early homebrewing days.
In order to learn how to scale up their business, Edwards and Tam leaned on the expertise of Peter Burrell, an experienced brewer and graduate of the Siebel Institute in Chicago, which Edwards described as the “Harvard of brewing.”
Burrell is the uncle of Edwards’ friend and happened to be in a transitional period of his life, looking to step down from brewing and enter retirement until the opportunity to help Hapa’s came along.
“The timing was perfect,” Edwards said.
Edwards serves as head brewer, developing flavors based on customer feedback and the help of the Hapa’s team. All flavors are brewed on-site at their San Jose brewery and include varieties such as an amber lager called the Uncut Gem, a sour fruited beer called the Courageous Chameleon and hard seltzers.
Hapa's Brewing Company plans to open their taproom on Laurel Street in September. Courtesy Hapa's Brewing Company.
In 2017, Hapa’s Brewing Company opened its flagship brewery and taproom in San Jose, offering a wide selection of beers on tap and offerings from rotating food trucks. Following the success of the San Jose location, Hapa’s expanded to Los Gatos, starting construction in February 2020 with little foresight of the unprecedented times that were unfolding. But the business model of opening taprooms on the Peninsula and maintaining a flagship location in San Jose worked well for Hapa’s, prompting the decision to expand to downtown San Carlos.
The San Carlos location will feature a balanced drink menu, with 14-18 beers on tap, seltzers and a local wine selection. Food offerings will also be available as the taproom will have a small kitchen. Customers can expect small bites, charcuterie boards, sandwiches and more items on the food menu that Tam helped develop. The taproom, which used to be a laundromat before it became vacant for several years, will feature indoor and outdoor seating. Stay tuned for the announcement on the taproom opening in September.
Hapa’s Brewing Company, 460 Lincoln Ave., San Jose; 114 S Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos; 722 Laurel St., San Carlos; Instagram: @hapas_sancarlos.