Oahu, actually. Visiting my girlfriend’s family-but don’t think I forgot about the beer. Oh no.
Kona Brewing, probably the most well known brewery to come out of the island state, was freely available and I availed myself of their Longboard Lager, Fire Rock Pale and even a Big Wave Golden ale. They were all perfectly serviceable beers and although I didn’t get to try it, my companions all had the Wailua Wheat ale and raved.
I tried a Shocktop beer…to my dismay. There are all kinds of things wrong with this beer, some of which should be obvious from the photo but one which was not; this is brewed by Michelob. I didn’t know this before I ordered it but now that you know, dear reader, that should tell you everything you need.
Advised to go to the Yardhouse, I scoured their menu for other local beers. Generally I’m not so fond of chain restaurants and I certainly have some reservations still, but they had a broad selection on tap served in glasses that weren’t frozen and during happy hour the appetizers were cheap and tasty. If you don’t know where else to go, try them out I say. I selected two beers from Mehana Brewing: the Mauna Kae pale and the Volcano amber ale. They were both quite tasty however when later I selected the Mauna Kae in the bottle, my experience was not so positive. I heard from the locals that there had been issues with their bottled beers in the past so get it from the tap if you can.
There’s also a pretty broad selection of Japanese brews in Hawaii; not really surprising but nice to see since they aren’t as available in Oregon. I tried two of Hitachino Nest Beer’s brews; the Japanese Classic and Red Rice ales. The Japanese Classic was a good pale ale but the Red Rice had a queer sweetness at the end of it that turned me off.
The real surprise for me was Maui Brewing Company. First off, they were the only craft brewery to have their product in cans. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I like beer in cans for a couple reasons. First; cans are lighter and easier to lug from point A to B, which is useful if you’re walking to the store a lot. Second, beer in cans will stay fresher for longer because no light can get in, and I think they’re more airtight as well (but I could be wrong on that last point). Finally, they’re a hell of a lot easier to recycle overall. This should mean less environmental impact but I’ve been told that the process to line the cans so they don’t affect the taste of the beer might negate that. Something I’d like to know more about sometime.
All of that would be fairly meaningless if the beer wasn’t good-but the beer is quite good. The Big Swell IPA is just this side of a pale, but that’s OK because it’s still tasty, the Bikini Blonde is crisp and refreshing, and the Coconut Porter was something I didn’t think was going to work in part because of how warm Hawaii is but it was great. I have been informed that some of their beers have made it to Portland and I hope to seek out and find them to share with other aficionados. I hope other breweries follow them and Caldera and start producing more beers in cans. This is one of those cases where it’s what’s inside that counts. (And the outside is so shiny!)