From Kailua Kona, Briefly
After a very rocky ten days looking for an internet connection, looks like I've finally got one. (Lots could be said, but interesting content it ain't.) I don't have too much time to reflect on the Hawaiian brewing scene, but a couple words while it's fresh in my mind. I went to Kona Brewing last night for my 40th birthday--you could call it a wake for my youth. I've had some Mehana beers from Hilo across the island as well, so my sample size, while small, is growing. Quick takes:
- I came in expecting light, malt-centric beers typical of the tropics. Not so. Hawaii is an extension of the west coast, brewing-wise. (Literally every person we've talked to who lives here either is from or has relatives in the Pacific Northwest. Quite a lot of anti-tourist animus --not surprisingly--but it softens when people hear where we're from.)
- People drink the good stuff. Last night, I tooled around the pub and looked at glasses, expecting to see very pale pours. Again not so. The pub has two porters and a stout on tap, and a lot of people were drinking them. (Paradise it is--the upper reaches of the the mercury are about 85, and it's usually 80. In the evenings, it's room temp--perfect for a pint of plain.)
- Passion fruit has a very hop-like signature. As attendees of the OBF know, Kona has a passionfruit wheat. I have found it t too sweet and assumed it came from a mass-market brewery, but when I had a whole pint and compared it to Sally's muscular IPA, I recognized what they were going for. I'd love to see it used in an IPA, in greater moderation, to see how it would accentuate some chinooks and centennials.
- The water here is hard and acidic (I think), bubbling as it does through caustic volcanic flows. That gives the beer a rather interesting signature. The Mehana pale especially has a strange, almost Belgian-like tartness.