Showdown : IPA Standard Bearers

I like IPAs. My Pit Bull turns his note up at them (his name is Porter…)

I know I said in my previous post that I drink more IPAs than anyone really needs to, and that remains true. However, thinking about that got me yearning for a good IPA. As I was lingering in my grocer’s beer aisle, attempting to find something new and interesting in their standard grocery store* beer selection, a showdown was conjured in my mind. I wouldn’t drink one IPA, no, that is for the lot of you who drink sensibly. No, I would have three (my max if you know me well enough), on a school night, and pit them against each other in a winner take all of our IPA elders.

I’ve had the three here multiple times but none of them recently since I don’t get back to the standard bearers as often as I should. Are these IPAs standard bearers? I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t care too much, either. They are all classics, which have been brewed for more than a decade each and all are wildly successful year-around beers. I know that the recipes have been tweaked some over the years, but these are the beers that launched thousands of imitators.

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Bitter Grandpa

Stone IPA : Introduced 1997 : 6.9% – We’ll start with the oldest of the group, Stone IPA. It’s classic clear orange body topped by a white hat. Powerful citrus hop notes for sure inspired a multitude of IPAs in the last 20 years. Damn, it is bitter. Ya know how lots of the new tropical IPAs are full of bright fruits (which I totally dig, btw) but the bitterness seems a bit restrained? This IPA harkens back to those days when everyone cared about IBUs more than anything else. The flavor is almost masked by the bitterness! Still, it has tons of citrus and pine hop notes. Crystal malt adds some sweetness and rounds out the body. This is a full-on bitter powerhouse of an IPA.

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Even-Keeled

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA : Introduced 2003 : 6% – I’ve moved on to Dogfish’s 60-minute IPA, which I’ve had the longest relationship with out of these three. I remember it being smooth and grassy, but either my memory has failed me or the beer has changed some over the years. The grass is still there but only in the background with pine and citrus elbowing their way to the front. The malt is muted but aides the overall balance. Not nearly as bitter as the Stone but still having a nice bite throughout. A well-balanced offering.

 

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Not GF free

Ballast Point Sculpin IPA : Introduced 2005 (originally named Northstar) : 7% – The relative newcomer, Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA is a big time player especially on the west coast. I don’t remember drinking much of it when I was back east, but I can’t escape it out here. This is a grapefruit bomb and I’ve always enjoyed grapefruit in my IPAs (I don’t like grapefruited IPAs, however). Strong citrus notes throughout with a decent helping of crystal malt sweetness. A zesty, fruity, sweet IPA that many breweries seem to be emulating (cause, duh, it’s a huge success so why not emulate it). Tangy and bitter. Good stuff, here.

So what’s it gonna be from the elder three? My pre-tasting guess was Dogfish Head had the winner but after this little get-together Stone came away as the clear winner. DFH and BP are brewing great IPAs but they are both solid seconds, for me. If we care about where our money goes (and I do) then I’d put the 60 Minute second and relegate Sculpin to third, but that’s a moral decision and not an enjoyment based outcome.

This was a fun grocery-store threesome. I haven’t had any of these in years and it was nice to get reacquainted with them. And damn, that Stone IPA is still fighting my tongue. Nice.

*I may need to remind you that I live in the heart of a good beer black hole. The local area is trying to improve but we still don’t have a good bottle shop in close vicinity. I buy more of my beer from the chain grocery than I’d like to admit.

The Session – Brown Ale

Long time reader, first time caller …er, contributor to the Session. My first foray to this gathering ofsession_logo beer bloggers is session #120, Brown Beer, hosted by Fatal Glass of Beer, who says:

let’s buck the trend and contemplate brown beer. This might be brown ale, or the aforementioned English bitter; it could be a malty Belgian brune, a dubbel or a tart oud bruin; even a German dunkel might qualify.

Away we go.

I can trace my connection to brown beer all the way to my good beer infancy. The beer that started it all for me was Bells Porter, which is a lovely deep brown beer. However, when I narrowed my brown beer experiences down, I kept returning to one singular beer that played a remarkable role in my formative years.

Sweet Nostalgia.
Samuel Smiths Nut Brown ale is a beer that satisfied and inspired me to keep going down this rabbit hole. It pushed my passion for darker beers to full throttle. I snagged their Taddy Porter next, shortly after that I went after Westmalle Dubbel followed closely by McEwan’s Scotch Ale and then Abita’s Turbodog, which led to … well, you get the idea. Brown beer was my life and life was grand. I drank them, I brewed them, I chased them. I still do.

But, why? I surely didn’t keep track of why when I was learning to love beer so I’m looking back through frosty windows, but I believe those brown beers gave me a sense of comfort, substance, flavor, and balance. I enjoyed the occasional IPA because tons of hops were (are) cool and fun, but the beers that really spoke to me were brown and malty with a chewy body. The browns looked like beer should, too. They transported me to a London pub or a German bier hall where good beer was just … normal.

Sam’s Nut Brown inspired me so much that the second batch of homebrew I ever crafted was a clone of this ale. I specifically bought Beer Captured (Jeff and Tess Szamatulski) because I saw it had a recipe for this glorious brew. That is a story in and of itself, really. See, I brewed this beer just a couple weeks before I shipped off out for the Navy and a new life far from home. I left before I was even able to taste the fruits of my labor. Luckily, I figured out that this was going to happen early enough that I left my parents very detailed directions so they could bottle and store it in the basement (they did a great job) until my first shore leave came nearly a year later. The beer was all that I could have ever hoped for. Its malty and semi-sweet profile begged for round after round. I was so proud of it that I took bottles with me to all the get-togethers I could during that visit home, polishing off those five gallons with ease.

But time marches on and the beer world today is not what it was when I first joined the revolution 12-ish years ago. I drink more IPAs than anyone really needs to these days- they’re inescapable. Much like many relationships, we never had a falling out, but we drifted apart. I’d say hello every now and then but mostly sought out the new and exciting barrel aged sour and didn’t have time for this steady ale. I honestly don’t remember the last time I brought home a bottle. So, as I write, I am also enjoying a fine pint of Nut Brown.*

She’s just as friendly as I remember. The nutty and toasted malts leading to a mild chocolate, toffee and raisin backbone. The lingering dry finish bringing me back for another taste. Her brown body and curvaceous ruby highlights under the dirty blonde head are as beautiful today as they’ve ever been. Lovely.

Enjoying this brown again made me curious for a couple other noteworthy browns of my beer youth. Being in the PNW these days, I don’t have access to many of the beers I cut my teeth on when living in the Midwest, but I was able to find a couple of entries that fit the nostalgia bill.

Nectar Nightcap
Rogue Hazelnut Brown : 6% – I don’t remember the circumstances surrounding my first encounter with this ale. I do remember that this brown opened my young beer world to the possibilities of ingredients other than malt, hop, water and yeast. I was in awe of this brown for some time after I discovered it. I bought more and made everyone try it’s hazelnut and toasted malt profile. Such a luxurious brown beer. It’s still quite enjoyable. The balanced hazelnut stands out without being a one trick pony. I haven’t had this in years but enjoyed getting reacquainted.

Easy top 3 Brown
Big Sky Moose Drool : 5.2% – This was a beer I had on my wish list for many years before finally getting to a state that served this malty delight. It was one of the first beers I HAD to have. So, when I finally stumbled upon a bottle I was in heaven. It was all I hoped for, and still is. Lightly roasted malts, chocolaty, toasted bread and deep dark fruits. A slightly sweet but also dry body and finish. A hearty and malty brown ale. I need to pick up more.

I didn’t expect my first contribution to the Session to be so full of nostalgia, but I’m not upset it turned out this way. Brown beers have always played a large role in my beer life. Porter has long been my favorite style followed by many malty, brown leaning beers. Dubbel, dunkle, stout, bock, etc. I sometimes have a difficult time remembering that good beer is good, even if it’s not new.

*the post was written while enjoying Samuel Smiths Nut Brown but edited and posted while enjoying a different brown hued beer, Negra Modelo. A tasty mainstream option. 

Showdown: NorCal Imperial Stout

Imperial Stout Garage.

Imperial stouts are great. I think that’s a fairly agreed upon statement. What’s not to love? Roasted malts, chocolate, sweetness, awesome. Winter is the perfect time for the style and the PNW makes some of the best. Does Northern California count as the PNW? As a midwesterner, I think it does. I was standing in the beer aisle while doing some grocery shopping recently and decided to grab a couple impys because nothing else stood out. They sat in my fridge for a few weeks and then decided a comparison would be a fun thing to do … because it’s kinda my thing. So, which NorCal imperial stout will punch out the other? I’m stoked to find out. 

(G)narly

Sierra Nevada Narwhal – 10.2% : Pours black with a tall, dark brown head. A very slick, molasses, sticky roasted malt profile. Some burnt malts and dark chocolate but mostly a super bold and sweet molasses filled imperial stout. I mean, wow, this is sweet. The roasted notes are overpowered but the sweet malt, which kind of drowns everything out. The 10% is drowned by the sugars, which makes it fairly dangerous. It’s a real good impy, no doubt. It’s just a bit too sweet to be something I can have very often.

A Wise RIS.

North Coast Old Rasputin – 9% : Thick black pour with a tall and firm deep tan head. Intense roasted malt notes, mild coffee, cocoa, light pine and earth notes. Full bodied. A bone dry finish increases the roasted feel on this imperial stout. A lingering bitter sweet burnt malt stays with you long after your sip is gone. Intensely dry and roasted and delicious. I should drink more of it. 

There ya have it. Old Rasputin bests Narwhal in a battle of Northern California Imperial Stouts. The Narwhal is nice but too sweet for my liking. I used to enjoy the Rasputin rather often in my earlier craft beer days but have drifted away from it in recent years. It’s nice to have it again and reminded of just how great an imperial stout it is. I think it’s gonna start making a regular appearance in my fridge once again. 

Kitsap Breweries : Silver City

One of my beer goals for 2017 is to visit all breweries on the Kitsap Peninsula. Basically, anything north of the Tacoma Narrows bridge is fair game. And now, the race has begun.

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A classic warehouse brewery tap

I decided to start the adventure at a place I know well. Silver City is the big dog over here on the west sound and ships its beers far and wide. Last I checked, they were the fourth largest craft brewery in Washington. I won’t go into specifics about their beers because you’ve most likely had a pint of the Ridgetop Red, Nice Day IPA or any of their regulars. They even brewed the Seattle Beer Week beer, Sieben Braü lager … so they are totally big time.

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Tropic Haze when it was still a pilot brew

The brewery taproom itself is actually pretty small and reserved. A few seats at the bar next to a small window to the packaging floor of the brewery greets you as you walk in. A lineup of 20 tap handles is front a center in case you forgot why you were there. Beer. Beer is why you are there. Some tables scattered among stacks of silent barrels aging a whole host of different brews adds some ambiance and gives a good reminder that you’re drinking at a very busy working brewery. They have a large chalkboard calendar with all their goings on in the main room of the bar so you can see what food truck will be in on what day, when that special release imperial porter is available, and when cask night is gonna be. It’s helpful. The service is always friendly, and as a native midwesterner, I enjoy the easy and relaxed friendly atmosphere they seem to promote. I enjoy Silver City but it’s a basic brewery taproom that seems to exist more to fill growlers and sell bottles and cans of their liquid than as a gathering spot to tie a few on. They are not trying to wow you with ambiance. They are trying to sell their beer in a friendly environment. I dig it.

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A fuzzy photo among the snoozing barrels.

I wouldn’t call myself a regular but I do stop in a few times a month and relax- generally  over a pint of one of their pilot beers. They seem to have at least a couple going each time I’m in, in addition to the regular lineup and standard seasonals.  They also brew a number of seasonal lagers, which needs to be a thing at more places. Lager. Yea. It’s the next new hotness that isn’t new at all but is awesome.

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Scrooge rests patiently.

So yea, Silver City. It’s a damn’d fine brewery with a solid taproom offering up a good variety of their beers with some one-offs, too. It’s nice to have them nearby.

On the web: Silver City Brewery

*This is solely about the brewery taproom in Bremerton. The flagship restaurant in Silverdale is a different beast all together. I rarely venture up there as its focus is casual dining and the tap list isn’t as extensive. And I write a beer blog, not a causal dining blog.

Peanut Butter and Paradise

I named one of our dogs Porter after my favorite type of beer. He really likes peanut butter. I also really like peanut butter. I also really like beer (so does he, but he doesn’t get more than the occasional spilt drop). So, when brewers “discovered” the now fairly common peanut butter porter a few years back, I jumped at it. It was fun. It was novel. It … grew old fairly quick. Not that there was anything wrong with them, but for me, they grew too sweet to enjoy regularly. I haven’t had one in quite some time but for some reason, when my local, local beer only bottle shop announced they had Wingman Brewers Peanut Butter Cup P-51 I jumped at the chance to grab a bottle. And, as fate would have it, as I was about to get in bed last night I found out that today is National Peanut Butter day. What luck! I threw the bottle in the fridge (well, really I gently placed it in there) and went to bed so excited for today to come. And here we are. Drinking a peanut butter porter on a day when peanut butter is in the spotlight.

Wow. My life is just a roller coaster ride of excitement.

Locally roasted peanuts from CB’s Nuts. Oh yea, and beer.

But the beer is good. It offers up all the hallmarks of a good PB porter. It’s full of rich peanut, chocolate, some light roasted notes, and a decent amount of sweetness throughout. It’s full silky body gives a good chewy profile aiding in it’s enjoyment.

You’ve got yourselves s good dessert sipper, Wingman.

 

A Pair of Peculiar Puyallups

Yea, I mean, Puyallup River is offering us beer geeks a holiday spiced imperial cream ale (wha…?) and an imperial eggnog stout (uh, ok). Doing a real quick search on RateBeer, the eggnog stout isn’t unprecedented though hardly a common offering. I’m imagining myself in some sort of random conversation on the brewery floor at Puyallup. The topic is holiday beers and the general disdain of the standard expectation from the breweries. Someone say, “let’s get a bit weird this year.” Somehow, that gains traction and eggnog is the obvious choice. But, Imperial Christmas Cream Ale? I love it. I initially didn’t. I saw the bottle, shook my head, and quickly forgot about it. However, it crept back up in my subconscious and every time I saw a bottle it was more and more difficult to pass it up. Puyallup finally broke me and I snagged a bottle of each. Are they worthy additions to the holiday beer or just forgettable novelty beers that fade away silently into he cold winter’s night? Let’s find out.

Puyallup River imperial Eggnog Mud Mountain Milk Stout : 8.5% – I’ve heard good things about the Mud Mountain Milk Stout but haven’t yet had the pleasure. Much like the Christmas Cream Ale, I saw this, basically laughed it off, and moved along. Eventually, it’s novelty overcame my ability to withstand it and I picked up a bottle. Pours pitch black with a dark head. Powerful vanilla and spice aroma is spot on spicy eggnog. I love eggnog. I am happy. Full and oily body. The flavor hits like a mouth full of spice. Too much spice and somehow slightly minty. The vanilla is overshadowed by the spices intensity. There isn’t much of a stout profile, either. Not roasted notes, little chocolate, nothing. The aroma is very inviting but the flavor doesn’t back it up. A bit of a letdown, honestly.

Puyallup River Imperial Christmas Cream Ale : 8.5% – I haven’t had many, or any, even, imperial cream ales in my day. Nor have I had many golden or even pale beers filled with holiday spices. Needless to say, at first glance I passed it over nearly immediately. Where did this idea come from and who at Puyallup said “fuck it, go for it?” I admire the gusto. The beer itself is a hazy pale golden with a large head. The spices fill the room immediately with their holiday aroma. Cinnamon, nutmeg, some light toasted pie crust. Full and slick body. The spice continues to shine in the flavor leaving you with a lingering hot spice in the finish. The booze is fairly well hidden under all those spices. I am a bit suprised at how well this worked. The spices are powerful but this is a well-balanced, well-behaved, spiced strong ale. I’m a bit taken back. I had some pretty good one-liners set up to dog this brew but I can’t use them (Damn. They were good, too). But, at the end of the day, it’s better that this is a good beer than me getting to use those (right?). I’m not saying I’m gonna rush out and buy a bunch more of these this year but it will probably show up in my stock again this time next year.

Well, I’d say Puyallup is one for two on their adventurous holiday brews. The Eggnog Stout didn’t work for me but the Christmas Cream ale was quite pleasant. Batting .500 is something we can all strive for.

Made It

I made a post in September titled Motivation. in which I challenged myself to reach a goal of 100 on a few different styles. It wasn’t all that many beers, really. It was only 28 beers and I had more than three months to drink them. Well, that is the logic that got the Mrs to add cider to the 100 count goal, bumping it up a few bottles. Still, it shouldn’t be too hard. I’ll just split some ciders with her while I drink the Imperials and Belgian strong, right? Well, yea, right, but I was also underway for more than a month of that three month marathon and I didn’t take the challenge too seriously at first, meaning its difficulty built up over the weeks.

I won’t hold you in suspense- I made it. I made it at about 10:30 p.m., Dec 31st after charging through an absolutely idiotic amount of high abv Belgian strong and ciders in the last three days of the year.

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In hindsight, it was a dumb thing to do. It wasn’t so much dumb because of the abv of many of the beers (though if you talked to me on NYE you’d probably disagree with that), just that being forced into so many of a specific style really made the whole hobby of craft beer a chore. I’ve never had that before and I hope to never again. It made me bored of drinking and dreading the thought of it. You could say that’s stupid, just don’t drink in that case. Well, we have this thing in our family that if we set a goal we meet it. Generally, that is a good thing but here it taught me that I am not a smart man.

What matters is that it’s over. What also matters is I drank some really fantastic beers I would have normally overlooked. Struise Pannepot Reserva was an amazing experience. Sound Mayan Cave Bear was tops and I would have normally passed as I’m not a chili beer kind of guy. Crux Half Hitch was killer. I’m glad I snagged a bottle of Dupont / Lost Abbey Deux Amis saison because that was another insane output from both of those righteous breweries. And I’ve got to mention  d’s Wicked Baked Apple cider. It’s a spiced cider trying for a bit of the novelty factor of cider but it hits the head of the nail square and true. 

I’m excited to get back to drinking what I’m in the mood for when that mood strikes. 

Prost!

Beer Goals : 2017

I’m still a bit confused that 2016 is almost over. I’m not confused about how that works, just that where did it go? Being at sea for more than eight months this year leads to the confusion. It also led to very few of my beer goals for the year actually getting accomplished. Sure, I drank local beers in a few countries I’d never been to (S. Korea, Singapore, Guam (not a country, I get it)) but there were certain beer things I’ve been excited to explore that I didn’t. I’m hoping I can make 2017 a bit more productive. I’m not a resolution kind of guy so that’s not what this is. Just a general plan of attack for the upcoming 365.

  1. Brew. I haven’t seriously brewed in years. I got a couple batches brewed in Bahrain, but I really want to get on the brewing train again. I’m excited to get some porters, milds and saisons churned out. Mrs. Tuesday Pints has been … encouraging me for a while and hopefully I can finally meet her expectations (she really wants some spent grain for her bread making).
  2. Brew a lager. This is probably my most adventurous goal for the year. I’m not sure how far I’ll get on it but I’d love to down a few home-brewed Oktoberfest biers come September.
  3. Visit Chuckanut Brewing. My love for a good lager has been growing exponentially over the previous two to three years and I’ve heard great things about their Chuckanut’s lagers. I was fortunate enough to get a taste of their Vienna not too long ago and it only intensified my desire to get to the source. We already have a trip lined up to visit the area so I’m fairly confident this will get checked off pretty quickly.
  4. Visit all Kitsap Peninsula breweries. The brewing scene on the peninsula has improved steadily since I moved out here with multiple breweries opening/expanding/brewing better beer in 2016. I’ve been able to get to a handful of them but am looking to make a hard push during 2017 to get to the ones I haven’t visited.
  5. Drink the classics. Sure, that cognac barrel aged imperial sour flanders-style brett ale is expanding what the definition of beer is but is it really a world-class beer? I want to get back to the classics that inspired this beer revolution we are currently enjoying. Beers like Sierra Nevada Pale ale (geez, when was the last time I drank one of these?), Chimay, Pilsner Urquell (OK, I drink this fairly often as it is), and many others that started us down the road to the maple bacon spruce no hop stout.
  6. Visit Machine House Brewing. They make great English-style ales. English ales are some of my favorites. Balanced malt and hop and made for easy drinking. Sometimes I need a break from all the high-octane hop bombs or weird ass stouts and just need a pint of a cool English ale pulled from a cask.
  7. Explore Tacoma’s beer scene. Seattle is the hub city of great beer in Washington. Makes sense to me for a variety of reasons. However, Tacoma seems like a great town. There are loads of breweries and great bars at the bottom of the sound. The city itself seems a bit more relaxed than Seattle and speaks the Mrs and I more than Seattle does.
  8. Visit Heater Allen Brewing. Another lager fueled brewery on my short list of brewery visits. I’ve snagged HA beers each time the Mrs and I have made it to Oregon and each has been fantastic. That pils … whoa. It’s time to make a stop and see where it comes from.
  9. Group gatherings. This is something I used to do on the regular and really enjoyed. I haven’t attended a group gathering in years but with all the stellar brews out here it would be great to join in the fun a bit again. Not to mention, bombers of a 12% BA Impy Stout on a Wednesday night can get a bit difficult by yourself.
  10. Improve my beer photography. I have always enjoyed photography and beer and combining the two. I’ve gotten real lazy with my beer photography and I’d like to improve it. More creative scenes, better lighting, thoughtful composition and stop with my tried and true bottle in front of glass *snap* post to instagram routine I’m currently stuck in.
  11. Get out more. Due mostly to my current location, I do the vast majority of my beer nerding at home. It wasn’t always this way and I’d like to move away from that a bit. I prefer being among the people. At breweries, at great taverns, at dive bars, at festivals.
  12. Visit Deschutes Brewing. They’re kind of a big deal, make great beer, and aren’t too far away. Gotta take advantage of my location and get down there.
  13. Blog more. I’d still like that to become a reality …
  14. Somehow convince PNW breweries to move away from the bombers. I’m just so tired of everything coming in a bomber. I’d love more 16 oz bottles but would be happy with 12 oz bottles/cans.
  15. Beer Festivals. This goes along with #11, but I haven’t been to a beer festival in a few years. It would be nice to get to a festival and “discover” some new local beers.

And there we go. I was striving for 17 but I got worn out by #12 so I figured I’d end it at a nice and neat 15. If I manage to knock out half of these this year I’ll consider it a successful year in beer.

Cheers!

Motivation.

I haven’t blogged in quite some time. I have reasons, sure. Time, energy, access to the internet, etc. They’re all…good, as in, they are all real. But honestly, lack of motivation is the driving factor in the layoff. While stationed in Japan, I had plenty of things to talk about that were new and interesting. However, Philadelphia is flooded with beer and people who know far more than I and Bahrain had nearly no beer and no reason to discuss it. I now find myself on the Kitsap peninsula. It may be the most frustrating place I’ve lived. Kitsap is surrounded by large cities and small towns overflowing with great beer and great breweries. Hell, even this peninsula has some outstanding breweries…but where are the great beer pubs and stores pushing the local suds? This tiny blog will have no discernible affect on the availability of beers, but I do plan on at least talking about them a little more. Hopefully, the motivation lasts.

In that effort, my lovely Craft Beer Wife (the most understanding of all the wives) challenged me. You see, I am the nerd who enters his thoughts on the ol’ Ratebeer.com website. I’ve amassed a decent number over the years and am close to certain milestones in the stats department. I agree, my stats that don’t mean a damn thing. Hell, none of it means a damn thing, but it is fun to do, so I do it.

When I stepped on the pier after seven months of being at sea and on deployment, my wife challenged me to rate 100 new beers by the end of the year. With all the brews she snagged for me while I was gone and after downing a few flights at breweries, we both realized that was a walk in the park, regardless of how depleted my tolerance had become. So I asked for a new challenge.

She decided that I needed to get to 100 overall rates of each of the following:

Challenge
Only 28 beers. Easy day.

 

At first glance, it doesn’t seem too difficult. It’s only 28 beers, dude. But, Belgian strong ales could be the sticking point. Impy stouts and IPAs? I’ve already got those in my queue, but the BSAs, and ones I haven’t had yet, might prove trickier than I’m thinking. The only way to find out it to start drinking.

Let’s get to it.

Showdown: Island Lagers

When I found out I’d be spending a week or so in Oahu for business, I researched island brewed pilsners and pale lagers for quite some time. Turns out, there aren’t that many and the ones out there are harder to find than they should be. Warm beaches are made for crisp lagers, in my humble, but correct, opinion (I will add that stouts and porters make for great warm weather beers, too). Once I got here and started exploring the few good beers stores and all those ABC stores around the island it became abundantly clear that Hawaii might be paradise, unless you are a craft beer fan.

Hawaii_Lagers
Lagers over Waikiki.

The three lagers on this installment of the showdown are all relatively easy to find. Most ABC and 7-11s seemed to have at least two of them. So, which on should be your go-to beach lager in the Hawaiian Isles? Lets find out.

Aloha Lager:

Aloha Lager
Hello (or goodbye), Lager.

Pour is slightly hazy golden with a small white head. Slightly earthy and a bit of citrus along with hay. Crisp finish. Not really that good. I was hoping for a crisp, clean, lightly hoppy lager that refreshes while imbibing. What this is is a meaty, hay and toasty lager. Not what I think of when I drink Hawaii lager. I guess that isn’t entirely fair since I like some of the other breweries lagers that aren’t Czech style pilsners, but that is what I got form the advertising so that is what I expect. Anoha to this lager.

Kona Longboard Lager:

Kono - Longboard Lager
I’d drink this on a surfboard.

Very clear and pale yellow with a wispy white head. Pretty much nothing going on here. Like, a void of aroma and flavor. However, it is clear and fairly clean. Light sweetness and a bit of light hops in the finish. When freezing, it’s quite refreshing. As it warms it gets a little…meh. Not much to like or dislike here, because there really isn’t much here. It’s pretty clean and refreshing but completely flavorless. This would be a pretty on point beach drinker and it gets bonus points for that.

Maui Bikini Blonde:

Maui - Bikini Blonde Lager

Golden with a white head because, well, it’s a golden lager with a white head. This one actually has plenty of flavor. From toasty malts, to some sweetness, a little grain and light hops. It has the easy drinking quality of the rest of the lagers but quite flavorful, too. This really is the most enjoyable of the bunch. The drawback here is that once it gets too warm on the beach the enjoyable flavor notes could make it a bit more difficult to gulp down. I guess the answer there is to bring a coozie.

Well, there ya go. When it comes to Hawaii brewed pale lagers, Maui Bikini Blonde reigns supreme. The Kona is nice if you just want to smash a few before heading out for the day and avoiding a bit of the overpriced beach bars. But, if you’re looking to enjoy a few good beers in the sun, go for the Maui.

In all honesty, none of these ended up being my preferred beach beers. Kona’s Big Wave Golden Ale became my go-to. It’s light, decently hopped, crisp profile really did a bang up job refreshing and de-sobering me. It was just as easy to find as the lagers, too.