My Hawaiian ExBEERience, Part 2
It’s been about a week since I posted Part 1 of my Hawaiian ExBEERience and thought it was time to bring things to their conclusion. Today, I’ll bring you info on the best bar on the Big Island as well as a brewery located half a mile up in the sky. But Hawaii isn’t all beer and beaches. There is a ton of history on the Islands, especially Oahu which is home to Pearl Harbor. Many don’t realize that this is still a working Naval base and the “employees” are all active duty military personnel. It was quite an experience, being on the monument, knowing that over 1,000 men and woman are permanently entombed just beneath your feet. If you ever get the chance to go to the monument, make sure you take the time to do it. Now, let’s get back to the beer portions of the trip.
First, I want to tell you about the best bar that Downtown Kona has. We were directed to this bar by the good folks at Kona Brewing Company and they did not steer us in the wrong direction. The name of the bar is Humpy’s Big Island Alehouse and there are two locations. One is right there on the Big Island while the other is in…Alaska. I thought it was pretty cool that the two places where the humpback whales live are the two locations for the bar. This place was definitely the King of Craft Beer on the Island and the man watching over the taps was a guy we got to know very well, Todd. Todd immediately started conversation with us and made us feel extremely welcome and answered all the questions we had about the many local and other craft beers he had to offer.
After starting off with something familiar (Koko Brown), I was directed to one of the Maui Brewing Company beers, Bikini Blonde. This was probably the perfect “Island Beer.” It had some great citrus flavors to it and was the perfect balance of heavy and light. It scored a 7.8 on my scale. After that, I went back to some of the Kona Brewing beers that Humpy’s had on tap. First, I had the Lavaman Red Ale which combines five different types of malts including honey, caramel and chocolate. The malts gave the beer a great smooth finish while the hops gave it some great character as well. Unfortunately, it was a bit on the light side like some of the other Kona beers and I could only score it a 6.3.
There was one more Kona brew that I wanted to try, and this one was the second best, right behind the Koko Brown. Even though its IBU only clocks in at a 35, the Fire Rock Pale Ale is smooth, refreshing and has a great hop character and mouth feel. The golden copper color is absolutely beautiful and the citrus flavor from the hops is incredible. This is probably the heaviest Kona Brewing Company beer that I had, even more full-bodied than the Koko Brown in my opinion. This one scores well for me at the 8.0 mark.
Now it’s time to head up into the mountains, 2,764 feet up, to a brewery who brews solely for themselves. They don’t distribute and it didn’t even look like they bottled or canned any of their beers. The Big Island Brewhaus did, however, have some of the coolest looking growlers I’ve ever seen. If I didn’t have to fly for 14 hours, I probably would have purchased one. It was really a gorgeous looking growler. If you go to their website, you can get a fairly good look at what they look like. I was blown away by the three brews I tried straight from the source in Waimea, Hawaii.
What is that beautiful brew? Well, its Big Mac Nut Brown Ale, brewed with Macadamia nuts. This beer was smooth, sweet and sticky. It was absolutely amazing. The macadamia nut flavor comes out very well and it is balanced with some molasses flavor. The nutty, toffee and malty flavors that this beer offered were literally one of a kind. If there was one beer that is not available in Ohio that I wish was, it would be this beer. This is one of those Four-Season beers that I could really enjoy at any time of the year. It’s not too heavy, it’s not too light, it is just perfectly balanced and could be enjoyed in front of a fire or on the beach. If you ever get a chance to try this beer, make sure you do it. This one scores an 8.6 for me.
Next, I had the Velvet Red which is a style that I have never had before: Red Stout. Has anyone else even heard of a beer classified as a Red Stout? This one came from a nitro tap, just like your Guinness and other high quality stouts. The Velvet Red had some great sweetness to it and some roasted malt flavor as well. Smooth is really the only word to describe this beer as it goes down the hatch. I want more of this stout immediately. Just thinking about it is making me salivate a little bit. This one scored high for me as well. Not quite as high as the Big Mac Nut Brown but still over 8 with an 8.1.
Lastly, I had a pint of Red Giant which is Big Island’s Red IPA. This was probably the strongest beer I had the entire time I was on the Islands. It had a great hop aroma and character and was the perfect combination of smooth and crisp. Red Giant is one of those beers that really quenches your thirst and keeps you wanting more. Behind the hoppiness of the beer was a subtle caramel flavor that is what gave Red Giant the smooth side of its character. I must say, I was not even a little disappointed by any of the brews at Big Island Brewhaus and this one scores a 7.7.
So there it is. My big Hawaiian ExBEERience was absolutely amazing and I would love to go back and try another dozen beers or so. Let me know what you think, if you’ve ever had any of these beers before or if you just think I’m a complete idiot. Follow me on Twitter @mgvanwormer and “Like” ExBEERience CLE on Facebook, facebook.com/beerinthecle