Friday, August 25, 2017

Barrel Aged Pele's Breath - Waikiki Brewing Company 8/25/2017

It's been a pretty dry week for new brews in the Aloha State. I had been looking forward, however, to Waikiki Brewing Company's Barrel Aged Pele's Breath, which released Friday night.  It's an imperial red ale brewed with house kiawe smoked malt and local chilis. It's aged four months in Buffalo Trace / Manulele Distillers Kohana Rum barrels.

[Manulele is the only hard liquor distillery on O'ahu; they are a self-sufficient farm for sugarcane, lettuce, and talapia. It's worth it to take their tour!]

The beer is very limited with only six barrels produced: two at Waikiki Brewing Company, two at their new Kaka'ako location, one at Village Bottle Shop, and one at Murphy's Bar; once it's gone, it's gone. It's served not super cold

 From my Untappd check-in: Very dark red, sweet aroma, nice mild bubbles, heavy yet balanced smoked flavor, bitter lingering aftertaste, only hint of grilled pepper.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Village Bottle Shop & Tasting Room 1st Anniversary 8/12/2017

Saturday marked a quiet first anniversary for argueably the best place to buy and drink beer in Honolulu, Village Bottle Shop & Tasting Room in SALT at Kaka'ako. It's sincerely hard to believe it's only been a year, I feel like I've been coming here much longer.  The staff here is second to none in both beer knowledge, friendliness, and professionalism.

The manager Chris is always one to say hello. Bartenders Casey, Ryan, Nikki, and Christian, among others, are passionate about the beer and business.  For the birthday celebration, they had a spin wheel that randomly selected two drafts each half hour that were half off. It worked out nicely to try some new rare kegs they tapped for the occasion. Happy Birthday! Here's to many more!

Pālua DIPA and Mango Man Wheat 8/12/2017

Barely a week has gone by and I see Honolulu Beerworks is releasing some new beers. We had already planned an afternoon in Kaka'ako, so naturally we started at Beerworks.  Coming in on a Saturday, it was busy and lively. The bartenders were friendly as always.  At a loll in the beermongering, I asked for them to look for my koozie. Third time was a charm! They located it in the "rejects" section and I was happy to have it back for future visits!
The Koozie Club can be joined for $5; you get to design your sleeve, which is great in the open air environment of HB. Thanks to my best drinking buddy John for getting it for me a few months ago!

We had the Pālua DIPA (Aroma of resiny floral hops, slight murky amber color, strong sweet hop flavor, deceptively strong) and Mango Man Wheat (Cloudy golden color, dry tart mango overall, aroma of citrus, dry aftertaste). It was fun to try two starkly different yet refreshing beers on a hot day.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Beer Lab HI

As an obsessive beer collector, a new brew always gets me to come back. With that logic, I have to go back to Beer Lab HI often.  Beer Lab believes in small batches, and as the name implies, experimentation. In business for over a year now, the group of friends that started it put it in an old bank: the brewing room is the vault, bar where the tellers used to be. It's sparse and modern: exposed concrete floors, wooden tables, metal stools, lime green and black coloration, and the original bank ceiling.

The people here are great; the bartenders always friendly.  Be sure to look behind the bar for the long list of upcoming and brewing beers; there's always something for which to look forward.  All their beers change so frequently you'd never get to try them all - good luck having a favorite, you'll never see the exact recipe again. Each beer is named by the staff while tasting, displayed on chalk board signs above the bar. They usually have eight to ten beers. Recently, they got into sake and kombucha as well (for me, I appreciate the Star Wars named sake and Game of Thrones named kombucha).  They have growlers and crowlers, which is the only way to take their wares to go. But it's most fun to have it here; sip, play a game, come to trivia or painting night.

I hadn't been in in three weeks or so, so I knew I was behind. Tonight we tried four new brews: two IPAs, a stout, and a porter.  All are excellent.  This is a must experience for anyone on vacation and locals alike. Be sure to check out the art wall and bring a brewery sticker to cover the restroom walls!

Monday, August 7, 2017

I Love Untappd, And You Can Too!

There is no greater enabler to encourage more drinking of beer than the app Untappd.  With their slogan of "Drink Socially," you'll never be without a drinking buddy again! A few years ago, one of my best drinking buddies introduced me to the app. Alas, my phone couldn't really support it so it went aside for a while. When I upgraded, I thought I'd give it another go and haven't looked back since.

As time goes on the features and nuances of the app improve, but the main idea stays the same: It's your record of drinking with a rating, comment, friend tagging, serving method, and location.  For a collector like me, it's an impossible task. When it comes to beer, what do you save? Bottles and cans that just pile up and collect dust? Bottle caps that are hard to display?  For me, it's the picture and a memory.

For a practical reason, it's great to have a record of what you enjoyed, or more importantly, what you didn't. You get to cheers friends and see what they're drinking and recommend. Take a risk and try something the app recommends for you. See what the most popular beers are in your area, on vacation, and find breweries nearby.

More than anything else, what enables and encourages me are the badges. There are thousands of little colorful stamps you receiving for trying different styles, checking in at various venues, and special badges sponsored by breweries, events, and cities.  The designs are fantastic and it's always fun to receive a new one.  Not everyone loves the badges, but they're a fun memento (and apps need to make money to bring free content). Keep a look out for sponsored contests like they've had in the past with Sierra Nevada, Goose Island, and currently with Oskar Blues. With a passionate user base, beers are always up to date (or feel free to edit). If you want to go the extra mile after you discover what a useful tool it is, become an Untappd Supporter. If you're looking for a new friend, feel free to add me and drink together! Untappd: alexanderbgates

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Guadalcanale - Home of the Brave Brewing Company 8/4/2017

 For any visitor or local to Honolulu, one place you cannot miss is the Brewseum. Located off of Ward Avenue in Kaka'ako, the Tomlinson family owns and operates what amounts to five separate and awesome businesses revolving around World War II history with a Hawai'i focus. There is so much passion in every inch of these buildings; you'll always see something new!

First and foremost, they're a history tour company that culminates at their history museum filled with artifacts, photos, memorabilia, and even movie/TV props and posters. The museum typically isn't open to the public, but on certain days you're free to explore.

Upstairs from here is their speakeasy, the Wiki Waki Woo Bar; but to get in, you'll have to ask the password!  It's a small bar, a cozy place to drink, and even a lanai if the fresh air suits you better.

Their brewery, Home of the Brave Brewing Company, takes up a tiny room under the speakeasy; part is roped off, but you can see their equipment and ingredients waiting to become beer.

The biggest draw for visitors is the Brewseum. This partial WWII museum, but mostly bar, is open to the public limited evening hours and is available for private events. They usually have a brew or two of their own on tap, as well as partnership beers from the mainland.  They have limited food, free popcorn, and sometimes Chubbies Burgers food truck, which is also worth trying!

Why I'm writing today about clearly one of my favorite places is the release of their newest beer, GuadalcanALE, a beer dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the namesake battle.  It's a full flavored earthy ale.  If you're coming to try it, be sure to have a bottle of the Remember Pearl Harbor Mighty American Ale; these make the best gifts/souvenirs for beer lovers.

For those who love the place and it becomes a haunt, be sure to work toward your wings become an Ace. Ask for a punch card, you'll receive them on your 5th visit.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

MMM Drop IPA by Square Barrels & Koholā Brewery Pairing 8/3/2017

Tonight was a double whammy hosted by Square Barrels in downtown Honolulu. Square Barrels has been around a few years, always with a focus on food, beer, and fine cocktails.  In recent months, they started brewing their own small batch beers. I finally got to try a few tonight.

To start, I ordered their two beers on the menu: the 4-1-1 Session Ale, and the My Korean Mother-in-law IPA. The latter was appropriate, a new IPA for IPA Day 2017!

What got me in was the launch of their newest offering, MMM Drop North East IPA. They generously gave 6 oz size tasters to all present; it's always great to give a taste to keep you coming back!

The event also included one of the owners of Koholā Brewery from Mau'i, who brought four flagship selections. Square Barrels developed a plate of four sliders to pair with each. Their food is excellent, outside the norm of what you'd find in the islands, yet with a very local focus. We had ahi, chicken, beef, and best of all - Moloka'i venison.

Beyond the featured foods, we tried the poutine, beignets, and angel hair bolognese.  The food is super rich, which goes well with the varied beers.  Square Barrels is an Untappd Verified Venue and is worth checking out if you find yourself downtown!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Bangkok Wheat & What the Hefe?! - Honolulu Beerworks 8/2/2017

At the behest of a valued member of my family on her birthday, we went to Honolulu Beerworks. I can't say that was a bad call: they have wonderful typical mainland food, a fun atmosphere, and great beers. I was excited having seen there were two new releases.  We had the pretzels, garden salad with chicken, and veggie mac & cheese special.  Everything was delicious! We also had a beer flight of six of their usual brews, the birthday girl loved most of them!  Honolulu Beerworks is O'ahu's original craft brewery. It's definitely worth checking out in Kaka'ako, nearby a burgeoning beer culture which includes Village Bottle Shop, Aloha Beer Company, and opening soon Waikiki Brewing Company.

Roasted peanut aroma, flavor like pad thai, sweet chili peanut, lingering burn on the throat.

Dank aroma, gold murky color, habanero chili flavor, burn that lingers, refreshing.