This blog documents my attempt to drink a beer from every country in the world and every state in the United States.

Friday, August 17, 2012

State #17: Hawaii

Beer: White Mountain Porter

Brewery: Big Island Brewhaus, Waimea, Hawaii

ABV: 5.8%

Things that I wish were legal in California: selling beer in mason jars. Note: Kona Brewing Co. is a much bigger and entirely unrelated brewery that just so happens to be on the same island. I just wanted to keep everything in the picture as Hawaiian as possible.
It’s not that hard to get beer from Hawaii. The Kona Brewing Company distributes all over the country (and even has some of their stuff contract-brewed at a facility in New Hampshire of all places), the excellent Maui Brewing Company has their cans placed in an growing number of stores, and, for those of you who enjoy swill, Primo Island Lager, Hawaii’s own Crap National Lager, is available on the West Coast. Considering half the people in Hawaii at any given time are probably there on vactation, it makes sense that there is a lot of beer available.

Fortunately this road is nowhere near the Big Island Brewhaus and their deliciousness.
What’s more difficult is getting to Hawaii itself. My wife had no problem doing this, because she’s smarter than I am and got a bunch of people to give her a bunch of money to live on the Big Island to do research for over a month. I thought I would be stuck teaching and doing jury duty all summer and wouldn’t be able to join her, but the perfect storm of creative schedule finagling and plummeting airfare occurred, and before I knew it I, too, was gawking at volcanoes and drinking beers named after them.

Just another evening in Hawaii. Don't think anyone has named a beer after Kilauea yet. Get on it!
Kona has a beer called Fire Rock Pale Ale. Hilo’s Mehana Brewing Company makes Mauna Kea Pale Ale, named after the Big Island’s tallest peak. And Waimea’s Big Island Brewhaus, a microbrewery-Mexican restaurant, makes something called White Mountain Porter. White Mountain, by the way, is the hauli translation of Mauna Kea, and is so named because it actually sees snow in the winter.

There was no snow on it when we were there, but the White Mountain name might also have something to do with the clouds that are there just about always.
Porters are fantastic, but this one is really quite special. The chocolate and coffee flavors present in good porters go really well with coconut, so if you’re making beer on an island with a bazillion coconut palms, why not throw some in there? It’s a subtle flavor, but still noticeable and completely complimentary. The only bad news is that you not only have to go all the way to Hawaii to try it, but you also have to go to the Brewhaus itself, where they will happily pour some into a mason jar for you to take home. If you go, you can also try beers infused with jackfruit and ginger, but they weren’t as impressive.

Surprise: coconut-infused porters go really well with home-made chips and salsa and the most Hawaiian of all foods, a chili verde burrito.
If such a trip isn’t in your future but you’re intrigued by coconut-infused beer, try Maui Coconut Porter, which is similarly stupendous. Kona also makes something called Koko Brown, which uses coconut extract instead of real coconuts, and is a brown ale instead of a porter, so it tastes a bit too sweet for grown-ups.

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