A Night at Keoki’s

It sounds like the title to a bad romantic comedy starring Katherine Heigl and Paul Rudd, but really it’s dinner at Keoki’s Paradise in Poipu.  Sure, the place is kitschy with its waterfalls and live Hawaiian music.  However, it’s fund and I was on vacation…so deal.

Kona Brewing Company—who’s beers I sample extensively in bottle form during vacation—also produces beers that are only available in draft form.  A win for me was the Keoki’s carries two of these beers: Duke’s Blonde Ale and Lavaman Red Ale.

Duke’s Blonde Ale is true to its name:

Dukes Blonde

At only 18 IBU, I am surprised that the brewers even bothered calling out three different kinds of hops in the recipe because there is very little bitterness or aroma from hops.  The beer is also pretty low in alcohol (4.9% BV), so when served cold there is not a lot of need to balance anything out.  Needless to say, given these numbers the beer is very easy drinking.  It’s not remarkable in any way.

Lavaman Red is a different story:

Lavaman Red

Darker, stronger (5.6%), and more bitter (30 IBU) than Duke’s Blonde this beer is a perfect showcase of what the folks at Kona Brewing can do.  Unlike a lot of beers, this beer is malt forward instead of relying on hops to provide the memorable flavor profile.  This is the kind of beer that I am trying to brew when I plan my recipes.  Kudos to the good folks at Kona Brewing for stepping out of the craft brew stereotypes to make a beer like Lavaman Red.

Another brewery on the Big Island of Hawaii that I did not know about prior to my trip was Hawaii Nui Brewing.  Located in Hilo on the rainy side of the Big Island, Hawaii Nui is the island’s “largest independent brewer,” which I guess excludes the folks at Kona Brewing because of the CBA and Primo because of its ownership by the Pabst Brewing Company.

At Keoki’s I got a chance to try Hapa Ale:

Hawaii Nui Hapa

Called an “American Brown Ale” the beer was actually probably served too cold for all of its flavors and aromas to really develop. At a shade under 40 IBUs with an ABV of 6.4%, however, the beer may not have been balanced when it warmed up.  Served cold with live music in the background at the end of the evening it was enjoyed.

Apparently, cold beer is a big deal on the south shore of Kauai because the menu at Keoki’s made in very clear that there beer was dispensed using the 29 degree Blizzard Beer System.  I had never heard of such a system, but I do like cold beer.  I can attest that the beer at Keoki’s was cold and it tasted good that way after a long, hard day at the beach.


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