We've spent the last week on a family/neighbor vacation in Hawaii. Leaving Portland in the winter is a good strategy, except that 12 of the 14 days before we departed had the best weather you could expect during a Portland winter -- sunny and not too cold. It was still a good time; also a first for me, I'd never been to Hawaii.
The island of Kaua'i is not a beer destination, especially when you live in a place that is a beer destination, but of course Dave and I rooted around for as much local beer as we could find. Here's what I got around to trying, basically in order of preference:
- Kona Brewing Fire Rock Pale Ale: quite tasty on tap; surprisingly dull in bottles.
- Maui Brewing Big Swell IPA: nice hoppy IPA in a can.
- Hawai'i Nui Golden Ale: sounds like a beer aimed at novices, but it has a nice, balanced flavor.
- Waimea Brewing (no website?) Uli Uli Brown: mild caramelly session beer at the island's only brewpub.
- Mehana Brewing Mauna Kea Pale Ale: pretty good pale; hop flavor reminded me of Hopworks IPA.
- Kona Brewing Pipeline Porter: nice coffee porter.
- Maui Brewing Coconut Porter: pleasant, but a little syrupy.
I found it interesting that the locals could really care less about Hawaiian beer. This picture is of a guy whose aloha shirt had an excellent pattern with dozens of old-time Hawaiian beer labels and bottles. When asked what kind of local beer he liked, the only two he could think of were Primo -- a lager now contract-brewed in California -- and Steinlager, which of course is from New Zealand. Another guy standing in line behind me at Safeway pointed at the local beers I was buying and asked "Are any of those any good?". I gave him a few brief reviews, and he said, a little sheepishly, "I've never tried any Hawaiian beer, I always just get the other stuff."
It's been a great vacation, but it will be nice to get back to Beervana!