Monday, March 11, 2019

Kona Brewers Fest 2019 – A Weekend of Beer

Tasting Mug & Sustainable Spork
I had an epic weekend of drinking beer from 8am on Thursday until I left for the airport at 7pm on Saturday. There were just too many new things to try! I volunteered to be a judge at the 24th Annual Kona BrewersFest's Rocket Rod Homebrew Competition a few weeks ago, but didn’t get a call to come until last weekend. I had the whole weekend planned in my head, so I threw the trip together and off I went!
Judging Room

Homebrew Entries
Ribbons Ready
I left Thursday morning and was given a ride from the airport right to Humpy’s Big Island Alehouse in Kailua-Kona. I ended up spending a lot of time there on Thursday and Friday as it was where the judging took place. The restaurant was gracious enough to host us, provide water, lunches, light breakfasts, coffee, and even a keg of Kona Castaway IPA to enjoy whenever. There were around ten judges this year with three judging sessions. 

Best of Show Panel - 17 Beers
 The Best of Show was done on Friday afternoon; it’s always my favorite part to listen to the most experienced people come up with one best beer! I was happy to get some BJCP points and experience from some amazing National level judges and professional brewers. Results can be found here.

One of a Few Flights at Ola
[For this blog post, I’ll link to each of my Yelp reviews for thoughts on the individual places listed, so feel free to click the names if you want to know more!]

Keep the Pint Glass Ola Takeover at Daylight Mind Coffee
Thursday night after judging, and after a much-needed shower, I walked to Ola Brew Co. I had a fantastic time trying every beer on tap and taking a tour with a number of beer and coffee industry people thanks to a friend arranging it. Read more about Ola Brew Co. here.

From there, I walked the roundabout and much longer than I thought route around to Kona Brewing Co., one of my favorite places in Hawaii. It was exactly as I remembered, with cozy lighting including torches, lots of plants, and tons of happy people. I sat at the bar and enjoyed the 25th Anniversary Hibiscus Brut IPA with a much-needed pizza.  Read more about Kona Brewing Co. here.

Flight at Kona Brewing Co.
On Friday, I was offered a surprise invitation to the Brewers Dinner at Kona Brewing Co., which I happily accepted. After judging finished that day, I had a little time to relax before heading over there. I enjoyed a flight with some other judges while we waited for the party to begin. After the beautiful Hawaiian blessing, we went inside to taste beers from the participating breweries, eat all manner of delicious food provided by the brewery, meet new people, and play party games. Highlights for me were meeting Jeremy Warren, the owner and brewmaster of Revision, one of my current favorite breweries. It was just great to unwind and have fun with fellow judges and people from around the islands I’ve met on occasion before. Huge Mahalo to Kona Brewing for hosting! It was a great party! Mahalo to Bill Carl for the drinks at the Dolphin Spit Saloon after the party!

Kona Brewing 25th Anniversary Booth
Saturday was bittersweet; I was exhausted and ready for rest at home, but still had the beer festival! In the morning, I slept in then walked around the town including visiting the historic sites and having a delicious leisurely breakfast. When 2pm rolled around, I headed into the festival and chatted with volunteers who had also been helping with the competition. There were too many to list, it was wonderful meeting you all! The festival was wonderful: lots of breweries I’d never heard of before pouring great selections. The food was the real draw, I just wish there was more! Read more about the festival here.

As the festival was wrapping down, I headed for the airport and home; I never slept so well! Mahalo for reading, if you’ve never been, I hope you make it next year!

Awesome Volunteers

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