Friday, August 26, 2011

The Kona Brewing Company Review

I am pretty confident that this is going to be the most difficult review for me to do from an objective standpoint.  It should be noted, right up front, that I visited the Kona Brewing Company during the greatest two weeks of my life: my honeymoon.  I lucked out and had an absolutely magical time in Hawai'i throughout the entire time I was there with my newlywed bride.  We enjoyed exploring the bulk of the island of O'ahu and the "Big Island" of Hawai'i, managing to turn our reprieve from the world into a massive road trip.

But I digress!  The Kona Brewing Company is one of only a handful of microbreweries/brewpubs scattered throughout the Hawaiian islands.  It is located in the Kona region of the Big Island--one of only two large cities designating the two "sides" of the island (Kona, being the western settlement and Hilo the eastern).  Native islanders refer to these two places in lieu of typical east/west directions to guide their travels and is thus a point worth noting for anyone looking to venture out to our westernmost state!  What makes the Kona Brewing Company's location even more noteworthy is the fact that it is located in the heart of the most popular luau region on the Big Island; the fact that it can draw any interest at all away from the mega-tourist attractions that are the luaus is impressive.

When Heather and I went to the Big Island we stayed roughly twenty minutes away from the KBC (Kona Brewing Company as it shall be referred to hereafter) and the luau spots at the Fairmont Orchid Resort.  Here are a few shots that I took during the drive to the brewpub:

If vistas like these don't get you in the mood for some great beer and great food, nothing will!

Anyway...on to the KBC!  So its location is a prime one amid the slew of luaus and various malls that comprise this part of Kona.  Like most of the places that we visited in Hawai'i, it is extremely easy to find, even without the use of a GPS device.  We went on a Friday night in July and had a modest wait for a table for two (somewhere in the neighborhood of a half an hour).  This is pretty much on par with any similar place that we've visited so it wasn't out of the ordinary.  Truth be told, we were just so excited to be on the Big Island that the half hour just whizzed by.  My only regret was that it was too dark to take more pictures.

Once seated, we were served promptly and I quickly dove into the beer.  By this point, I was well on my way to understanding my relationship with beer and, given the fact that it would be years, if not decades before I would get a chance to return, I wanted to relish every moment I could at this place and to savor every ounce of delicious Hawaiian beer that came my way.  Naturally, I ordered the sampler and was given a small but delectable array of brews (small in the quantity of beers but not in the size of each sample, as seen at right).

The serving mat had information about each of the brews, as did the menu.  I was satisfied with the broad spectrum of brews that were represented, ranging from a typical microbrewed lager and hefeweizen to a phenomenal porter.  Now, I'll admit that the circumstances surrounding my visit and the extraordinarily beautiful environs through which we had traveled to reach the KBC brewpub might reduced my subjectivity towards the beers...but they were all delicious.  It's been over four years since I've had them and they still stand out as incredible brews, ones that, even now, I am considering importing at great shipping expense.

The food was delicious but I was more entranced by the beer and the coasters.

Excitement unbridled

We are...HERE!

Overall, if you're in Hawai'i...I envy you...but that's beside the point.  If you find yourself on the Big Island of Hawai'i (or even on O'ahu), you really should scope out the KBC.  The food was on par, the beer was excellent...and you'll be hard pressed to enjoy those suds in a more idyllic setting.  In fact, sitting in traffic never looked so good (hey--it beat the hell out of Plum Beach and the Erskine Street Shopping Center along the Belt Parkway!)


I give the Kona Brewing Company Brewpub a grade of A- because of the high quality of its beer, the great food it offers, and, of course, the location.  I have actually seen Kona beers here in New York or in New Jersey so if you happen to find one, give it a try and let me know what you think.  For a collection of islands whose focus is as far from beer as one can get, Hawai'i managed to craft some truly excellent craft beer on the Big Island.  I would highly recommend scoping out the KBC if you are on the Big Island of Hawai' between those luaus, of course!


Big Wave Golden Ale
Black Sand Porter
Castaway IPA
Fire Rock Pale Ale
Hula Hefeweizen
Lavaman Red Ale
Longboard Island Lager


This section is deserving of a blog unto itself but I will do my best to be concise.  The odds are that if you are visiting the Big Island that you are staying at a resort on the Kona-side of the island.  If so, take full advantage of whatever your particular hotel offers and don't be shy about inquiring at the concierge about what other hotels offer, what deals you can get on those activities/events, and what they recommend doing.  You'd be remiss not to attend at least one luau, the best of which, in my opinion, was the Island Breeze Lu'au offered at King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel.  The food was the best I have ever consumed in my entire life, the drinks were flowing freely (as you'll see in a moment) and, quite frankly, I had the night of my life (also to be seen in a moment).

Free Mai Tais and Maker's & Coke?
I lost track of how many I had!

Taken at the end of the night (can you tell!?)

You know what?  I can go on for hours about what to do in Hawai'i so in the interest of time, if you happen to be interested, leave a comment or shoot me an email and I'll be glad to offer up some suggestions.

--Beer Whisperer Matt

For any further information about the Kona Brewing Company, including information about its O'ahu location, please visit their official website found here: