My Hawaiian ExBEERience, Part 1
It has been a little over a month since I left for Hawaii and had an amazing week, celebrating my 2nd Anniversary with my wife. Thanks to an appearance on The Alan Cox Show yesterday, I’ve finally been motivated to write about my trip and all of the great food and beer I encountered. I won’t bore you with the stories of our Whale Watching Cruise (We saw a whale fully breach about 50 yards from the boat!) or our Ziplining Adventure (A must do whether you’re in Hawaii or not) or our Snorkeling Expedition (More whales, some dolphins, a giant sea turtle, no big deal). Instead, I’ll focus on the wonderful beers I tried from the two best breweries that the Island has to offer!
We flew into Hawaii around 7 p.m. local time on Sunday, got our rental car and headed right for our Hotel which was about a half hour north of downtown Kona. This was an absolutely perfect location for us as everything we were doing was within short driving distance to the north and south. After a long day of layovers, airports and planes, we were pretty much wiped out. So we went straight to sleep to make sure that we were well rested for our first full day on the Island.
Waking up that Monday morning was pretty easy as it was to the sound of waves crashing on the beach. Our Kona Brewing Company tour was set to begin around 10:30 so we got moving and found an awesome breakfast spot, The Big Island Grill. After a delicious Shrimp Scampi Omelette, we plugged the address for Kona Brewing into the GPS and thought we were on our way with plenty of time to spare. Unfortunately, some jokester made the name for his house “Kona Brewing Company” on Foursquare so we went about 20 minute out of our way looking for the place. After we got the correct address, we headed back to about where we were for breakfast, made a left and there it was.
Luckily, we were only about 5 minutes late and the tour hadn’t really gotten started yet. Crystal was leading the tour and she was extremely knowledgeable about all things Kona. It turns out that Kona Brewing is at the forefront of some amazing Green initiatives on the Big Island and just about everything they use is reused in some way. For instance, the spent grain from the brewing process is used to make the pizza dough for the outstanding pies that Kona Brewing has on their menu. I’ll get back to the food in Part 2. After checking out the barrel house for the brewery, as well as their refrigeration room (which had 6 barrel aged beers Kona is working on…), it was time to sample some of the beers that Kona Brewing has to offer.
The first brew we tried was a Brew Pub Exclusive called Peddlers Pilsner. This beer, in my opinion, is a great first step for someone who wants to get into the world of craft beer after drinking the yellow fizzy swill that surrounds us. It is extremely light and a fairly bland flavor. I was not a huge fan of this one but would definitely choose it over something like a MillerCoors or InBev product. I score it with a 5.8 out of 10.
Next, we had another Brew Pub Exclusive, the Pacifier IPA. This beer was one of the lighter IPA’s that I’ve ever tasted but it was still very good. The citra hop flavor comes out very, very well and the aroma is great, as is the mouth feel. I really liked this one. The only downfall to this IPA is the lightness to it. This will sound a bit obvious but you’d have to taste this beer to really get it – It tasted really “wet.” I really don’t know how else to explain it. This one scores a little bit higher with a 6.4.
Our third brew was one that just recently became available right here in Cleveland. Koko Brown was my absolute favorite Kona Brewing Company beer. This beer had a beautiful dark color and wasn’t as heavy as most dark beers you encounter. The best part about Koko Brown though was the fact that it is brewed with real toasted coconut which creates an absolutely beautiful scent. The coconut flavor is subtle but you definitely experience it very well. As a coconut fan and dark beer fan, there was nothing about this beer that I didn’t like. It gets an 8.1.
Closing out the samples was Black Sand Porter. With great malt character provided by pale and wheat malts, this one has an immediate flavor that is slightly chocolatey. It finishes with some coffee flavor and goes down very smooth. This is probably one of the heaviest beers that Kona offers and it really is robust. If you like porters with some sweetness to them, this is definitely a good one to check out. I rate this one at 7.6.
Check back in the next couple days for the next installment of my Hawaiian ExBEERience. If you’ve ever had any beers from Kona Brewing Company, let me know what you think and if you agree with my assessment of their brew! Make sure to follow my on Twitter @mgvanwormer and “Like” ExBEERience CLE on Facebook facebook.com/beerinthecle!