March is shaping up to be a busy month over at the Kona Brewing Pub on the Big Island. Along with the annual Kona Brewers Festival this weekend, the team from Craft Brewers Alliance (KBC’s parent company) will break ground on its new 100,000-barrel Big Island brewery and canning facility on Friday, March 11.
To celebrate the groundbreaking of the 2.6 acre site in Kailua-Kona, the KBC brewing team collaborated with original brewer John “Kit” Kittrege and founder Cameron Healy to develop a new beer based on the original recipe for Fire Rock Pale Ale, the brewery’s first production beer. First Rock Pale Ale is a hop-forward, malty ale that pays homage to the beer that started it all for KBC. First Rock (ABV 6%, IBU 65) features Pale 2 Row Premium, Caramel 80 and Honey malts, along with Northern Brewer, Cascade and Columbia hops. The beer will be poured exclusively at the groundbreaking and will be available until supplies last at the Kona Pub & Brewery.
The Kona brewing team has also been busy creating two other new beers that will be available at the Kona Brewers Festival and Kona pubs (Oahu too!). `I`iwi India Session Ale (pronounced ee-EE-vee), was inspired by the local favorite POG juice. The brewers carefully selected hops like Azacca and Galaxy to blend with the vibrant tropical fruit flavors of passion fruit, orange and guava which were added to the whirlpool. The session ale (5.2% ABV, 31.4 IBU) was named after the indigenous, vibrantly colored bird that drinks the nectar of Hawaiian flowers and is described as having an assertive bitterness and exquisite flavors while maintaining a light body and drinkability.
It’s hard to believe that Kona Brewing hasn’t done a collaboration beer until now considering how popular they are. For their first collab, Kona Brewing teamed up with fellow CBA breweries, Cisco Brewers of Nantucket, MA, and Appalachian Mountain Brewery of Boone, NC, to create Konambisco. Each brewery contributed a local ingredient to the beer with cranberries coming from New England, honey from North Carolina, and Big Island cacao to create this balanced amber ale (6.3% ABV, 25 IBU). The cranberries add brightness and a mild tartness while the honey imparts a floral complexity and sweetness. “This is Kona’s first collaboration, and it’s pretty special to be brewing with Cisco, another island brewery, as well as Appalachian Mountain Brewery,” said Sandi Shriver, Kona Brewing Co. Head of Brewery Operations.