Next up on our Big Island vacation – the breweries of Hawaii!
Of course, we had to go to Kona Brewing Company. Especially since it was within walking distance of our vacation rental. Greyson and I didn’t walk, because I stepped on an urchin! But that’s a story for another blog post. Pretty much everyone who likes beer has had a Kona beer- I love their mixer pack.
Here’s what they say about themselves:
Aloha. That’s how most conversations begin here. It’s also how many of them end. But “Aloha” doesn’t just mean hello and goodbye and love and welcome. It means more than a word can express. It’s a feeling. A way of life. “Aloha” is the idea that we are all connected to everyone and everything around us and that true joy is found in respecting this connection. And it’s in this aloha spirit that the Kona Brewing Company was founded back in 1994 by Cameron Healy and his son Spoon Khalsa. They combined their love of Hawaii and its pristine, natural beauty with their fondness for delicious, local brews, and lucky for us, their dream lives on more than 20 years later.
One of the many awesome things about Kona Brewing is their commitment to sustainability. They use solar power, recycle water at on-site gardens, and use spent grains in the pizza crust at their brew pub. They also brew beer on the mainland to reduce transportation and shipping impacts! The brewery is definitely worth a visit if you’re in town. They have a few beers that you can only get in Hawaii that aren’t available on the mainland. Also, all the food we ordered was delicious, especially for such a large location. I really liked the poke and the kalua pork nachos!
Here’s what I tried (all descriptions by Kona Brewing):
Kanaha Blonde Ale (4/5): Our brewer’s were inspired by the trade winds to create this smooth, refreshing blonde ale with the adventures of summer in mind. After a day riding the winds over shimmering waters, Kanaha Blonde ale is a bright, sessionable beer that will ease you ashore without weighing you down. Real mango fruit adds a juicy, tropical flavor that is easy like the islands. This crisp Kona brew will take you up, up and away.
Rift Zone Red Ale (3.25/5)
Hanalei Island IPA (3.75/5): Hanalei Island IPA is an easy-drinking, sessionable beer that combines the hoppy aroma of an IPA with a tropical Hawaiian twist. Passionfruit, orange and guava balance the hops to deliver a coppery, session-style ale that reflects the flavors and spirit of the islands.
Lemongrass Luau (4.25/5) Lemongrass Luau is a crisp, refreshing blonde ale brewed with a touch of wheat malt, ginger, and fresh lemongrass. With its modest alcohol content Lemongrass Luau can be considered a session beer, perfect for pau hana, sharing pints with friends, and great with almost any meal.
Kua Bay IPA (4.5/5): Kua Bay IPA is a bright, bold, copper-colored India Pale Ale. Piney hops, spices, and a subtle caramel maltiness make it a delicious beer that’s both full-bodied and flavorful. Only available in Hawaii!
Gold Cliff IPA (4.75/5): Gold Cliff IPA features real pineapple, along with bright, tropical fruit aromas of Mosaic and Citra hops and a hint of smooth caramel malt.
Of course, we weren’t done after Kona Brewing. Greyson and I had a red eye flight, so we had a quite a few hours to kill after the rest of the family left, and, after some beach time, we headed to another brewery. We basically stumbled on Ola Brew, seeing signs for a new brewery as we drove around Kona.
Ola Brew was awesome – friendly staff, great beer (and interesting looking cider, that we didn’t get a chance to sample), and a spacious location that is great for hanging out. They aren’t currently serving food, but there was a food truck parked outside when we visited. While Kona was fun to check out, it feels pretty corporate, while Ola Brew felt more local. My favorites were the A’a IPA (New England style 4.25/5), the Lager (4.5/5) and the IPA (4.75/5). I also tried the Luhia Pale Ale (3.75/5) and the Old Industrial IPA (3/5), which I didn’t like as much as the first three, but were still enjoyable. If I make it back to the Big Island, I will definitely head back to Ola Brew.