by David Daugherty on April 17, 2012

Since moving back out west, I don’t get very much mail out here so imagine my surprise when I found a box sitting at my front door.  Total surprise, I hadn’t ordered anything and it’s not my birthday yet.  So I was pretty excited when I opened the box to find… BEER!  Yes, BEER!  FROM HAWAII! I grabbed the cans and put them in the fridge! Then I…

Before I go on: We’ve had a number of requests from breweries to taste their beers, with the promise from said breweries to send the beer to us. We don’t ask for more than a sample and it’s always an appreciated idea, particularly because it’s always when we can’t get it where we are, but Kona Brewing in Kailua Kona, Hawaii is the first to actually send us their beer!  They sent cans of their very popular Longboard Island Lager or what they refer to as Liquid Aloha!

As many of you know, I am a staunch ale drinker.  Lagers are something I order when I can’t get an ale.  But this lager is terrific!  It doesn’t bring to mind the “lagers” mass produced by breweries (you know who you are) who try to pawn their fizzy yellow liquid on us as a lager, let alone beer.  No, there is a much bigger thing going on here.  I like it on many levels but to put it simply, what you have here is a lager which comes in at a low 4.6% ABV and tastes great! 

I poured the Longboard from the can into a pint glass, bright gold in color with a thin head and slow lacing.  The aroma is there right from the opening of the can and gets stronger as you pour. The nose really whetting my thirst, I found the taste presenting a strong presence of malt right from the start, caramel, bready, toffee, and somewhat on the sweet side, which was fine.  But I also noticed, after the initial taste, a citrus, lemon maybe.  The IBU’s come in at 18 but while there was no real bitter, the hop presence is there.  This reminded me mildly of a pilsner.  I was very pleased with this offering, and  I can see it as a really good summer session beer.  It’s crisp and dry and the can I drank didn’t last long, it was that smooth!  I say 4 gulps and it was gone!

I want to thank Sally Murdoch at Aloha for sending me the beer, and I would be more than happy to try anything new you may have coming.  You may recall this is not my first experience with Kona Brewing.  I thoroughly enjoy their Pipeline Porter made with 100% Kona coffee.  At the Ring of Fire beer festival I tried their Wailua Wheat made with Passion Fruit, another good summer beer.

Now, I would like to address the craft beer in cans that we’re starting to see more and more of.  I’ve heard a lot of people complain about it, some saying that it tastes better in the bottle.  From my experience, I haven’t noticed much of a difference, if any.  The first canned craft beer I tried side by side with the bottle of the same was New Belgium’s Sunshine Wheat, and I really couldn’t tell which was bottle or can.  Aluminum cans are easier on the environment, cheaper, lighter and an even bigger advantage in being able to bring your favorite craft beer into the pool area, where bottles aren’t allowed, as well as some state parks, beaches, and basically anywhere glass is prohibited.  I think it’s a good move forward in terms of penetration for craft brewing and it fits in with most of the breweries’ thoughts on the environment and going green.  I applaud Kona on moving in that direction and hope to see even more cans out there.

I really hate to end this here, but there is more Liquid Aloha in the fridge calling my name!  Cheers!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

T McMurtry April 18, 2012 at 4:27 pm

I love KONA’s Fire Rock Ale. I do not find Long Board pleasing at all. It seems like a very ordinary and average Lager. You must have been really thirsty when you tried it or just loved the design of the can. Then again, maybe it tastes like a different beer canned. I have only had it in the bottle.


admin April 18, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Hi – Dave just became a Grandpa, so may not respond to this in a timely fashion. We asked Sally at Kona to send this to him as his drinking history would equip him to give it a more informed and fairer shake than I might, not being a big lager guy thus far.
Given that today’s technology has seemed to show little to no difference tasting brews from cans (at the very least, no metallic after taste), I would think it may just be a matter of you not liking it and Dave finding it a good session beer. He grew up a multiple beer session drinker, and he and I both get very excited when we find a quality beer coming from a craft brewer that qualifies as a lower ABV, ‘gulpable’ thirst quencher, offering an alternative to the standard American grocery store fare. This may have effected his take on it as well.
In any event, thanks for providing your thoughts on this.Cheers!
Harvey Gold – Editor


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