It's time for me to head to Arizona and join the baseball season as it begins. So instead of going to work I visited family in Hawaii, on the Big Island. Had a lot of fun with local beers and sitting by the pool, less fun running around after my children as they tried to climb the lava rock.
But if you're going to the islands, follow this crib sheet for some of the best beers on the islands.
Big Island Brewhaus Overboard IPA
Big Island Brewhaus Holy Humulus IPA
The Overboard is really nice, especially fresh off the tap. There's fruit and malt and bright hops, and it would belong on any best of local list. It's the best pale ale I've had from a Hawaiian brewery. The Humulus is a bit boring. But that's okay, they had one of the most innovative and interesting beers I'd ever had later in the weekend, and also the Overboard.
Lanikai Moku DIPA
Hawaii Nui Southern Cross Belgian Double Red Pale Ale
Big Island Red Sea of Cacao Imperial Red
Lanikai Pillbox Porter
Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien Sour (2011)
The Lanikai was super floral, but almost too much, like I'm not sure I'm recommending it. But the Southern Cross? That's worth looking for when you are in Hawaii. It's a Belgian Red, but it uses American hops and only 8.3% ABV, so it's not crazy strong. In our system, it goes against dark Belgians, so maybe that's why it scores as it does. I didn't really have expectations of a strong dark ale, so I liked it as a slightly sweet, not as bitter double red.
The Red Sea of Cacao is really great. We score it aight on BeerGraphs -- above average, best beer by the brewery, 8% better than most Imperial Reds -- but that doesn't get across how unique this beer is. It's like a dark sea salt choco imp stout except it's a red and not even 9% ABV. You don't really want to get too dark by the pool, so it's perfect for a Hawaii night. You could say the same of the Pillbox Porter, but it's much less unique.
Oh. The Saint Bon-Chien? Yes. Please do have that. It's European in its accessibility, but still has a ton of oak and tannins. Just a really nice dirty sour. I like it better than many of the more muted European sours I've had.
Belching Beaver Gret Lei IPA
Breakside Passionfruit Sour
Pelican Flock Wave Unfiltered Pale Ale
Gigantic Solid! Pale Wheat Ale
Clown Shoes Coffee Pecan Porter
Well, if you wanted a pina colada and an IPA, then you should get that Belching Beaver. If you wanted a Pineapple Sculpin and couldn't get one, you might scratch that itch with this beer. Otherwise, it's a bit sweet and coconutty for an IPA. This would work as a great Milk Stout. It's okay as an IPA.
The passionfruit sour was interesting to have next because it's very muted. It's really nice, well-balanced -- it features fruit and sour in good amounts -- but it's not over the top. The crazy sour heads may be left wanting more, but I was happy to drink it.
I can't say the next three really separated themselves. The Flock Wave tasted like a dirty pilsner, the Solid like a dirty wheat pilsner, and the clown shoes like a decent nutty coffee porter. Is fine.
Blackberry Farm Classic Saison
Breakside Wanderlust IPA
Rogue Sriracha Stout
Hoppin Frog Goose Juice Rye IPA
Any saison from Blackberry Farm is worth drinking. They make classy saisons with some extra funk and kick and then a seasonal twist. If you like saisons, you gotta try these at some point.
The Wanderlust! Maybe my favorite pale ale of the weekend! Man, this bright fresh lemon fruity IPA was the perfet thing to have near the end of an epic weekend. Broke the goddamn monotony of leisure, if you know what I mean.
I like Rye IPAs, so I was happy to have the Goose Juice around after we cracked that Sriracha Stout. Because we couldn't drink more than two or three sips of the Sriracha Stout -- our mouths were on fires, our throats were scorched, and we got none of the silky smoothness of a stout -- and we were looking for something else to drink. Quickly.
Pelican Brewing Golden Pelican Belgian Golden Ale
One beer before we got on the plane and it was a good one. Some nice mouthfeel from the bottle-conditioned golden ale, some good thick taste known to golden ales, and then a refreshing finish. One of the better beers we had over the weekend, even if Breakside Wanderlust and Big Island Red Sea of Cacao were the beers of the weekend.