Followers of this page may have noticed an, uh, significant lack of updates as of late. Between the holiday season, a trip to Kauai (pictured above) and starting a new job, the blog has, unfortunately, taken a bit of a backseat. Hopefully now that we’re into the new year (and TONS of new breweries are opening), we’ll be back on track and providing you with heaps of new reviews.
So…about Hawaii. You may have heard it’s pretty awesome.
However…the beer selection (at least on the island of Kauai where we stayed) is fairly minimal. Aside from your usual major InBev “imports” (Heineken/Corona/etc.), you aren’t going to find much in the way of craft beer from stateside favorites such as Sierra Nevada, Stone or New Belgium. And in terms of local micro-brews, you’re limited to bombers from Big Island Brewhaus, Maui Brewing Company (available stateside), Kona Brewing (also available stateside), Aloha Brewery Lager, Hinano Tahiti Lager, Primo Lager, or a trip to the Kauai Island Brewery taproom.
Since we were 2000 miles from a continental landmass and didn’t want to drink beer we could easily obtain at home, we settled upon the local “exclusives”.
The lager from Aloha Brewing is what you’re most likely to find at virtually any liquor or grocery store, and it’s an entirely decent “tropical vacation” beer. Anyone familiar with tropical locales is probably acutely aware that light, golden lager styles almost completely dominate the beer landscape, which makes sense: a heavy porter or barleywine isn’t exactly ideal beach refreshment. So when in Rome, drink as the Hawaiians do…
The other major beer you’ll see lining most shelves is Hinano Tahiti Lager.
While not nearly as good as Aloha Lager, it’s a passable adjunct beer that isn’t any worse than Rainier, Olympia or Tecate. Again, you’re in a tropical paradise: this is the kind of beer you’ll probably feel like having, regardless of your normal drinking habits.
Up next was Primo lager. The less said about this swill the better. Not only is it not genuinely local (it’s brewed in California), but it’s also awful. It’s a sub-PBR beer sold at micro-brew prices. Avoid at all cost. (Update: I just learned that Primo is brewed by Pabst, so I guess my PBR reference was spot-on).
Last (in terms of bottled beers) was an overpriced bomber of Belgian-style “Golden Sabbath” ale from Big Island Brewhaus. While not terrible by any means, it was mediocre at best (and $10 a bottle). Not recommended.
We did manage to make it down to the Kauai Island Brewery on the south shore and try a couple 4oz samples…
While the Lilikoi Ale and the Cane Fire Red left little impression, the limited-edition Taro Root infused lager was a real treat. Brewed with the primary ingredient in Poi, the lager had an indescribable, slightly fruity and well-rounded flavor that I hope some daring brewers stateside try to replicate. Highly recommended.
Anyway, that was the extent of our exotic beer adventures. While limited in scope, the beer options and the quality available surpasses most other tropical vacation spots like Belize (which offers only Belikin beer) or Costa Rica (even though I’m a fan of Imperial Cerveza, perhaps due to my fond associations with the wonderful country).
One final note: get to the liquor store early! We found out (much to our horror) after a very long day of travel that liquor sales stop at 11pm.