Thursday, July 25, 2019

New Breweries and Beers Land in the Aloha State

Odom Corporation Launches New Beer Portfolio in Hawaii

For over 80 years, the Odom Corporation has been a beverage distributor and wholesaler for Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Hawaii. In the Aloha State, they are expanding their beer portfolio and bringing breweries never before offered. Officially hitting store shelves and bar taps on August 1, 2019, some can be sampled at places as of this writing. The new portfolio of breweries includes: Alaskan Brewing Company, Bale Breaker Brewing Company, Big Sky Brewing Co., Black Raven, Everybody's Brewing, Mac & Jack's Brewing Company, Ninkasi, Reuben's Brews, Vailima, and the most famous of the bunch, Founders Brewing, which is marking the 50th state as their 50th state for distribution. In addition, they're also bringing offerings from Incline Cider Company, Tieton Cider Works, and San Juan Seltzer; beverages that are all finding an expanded footprint due to low calories and sugar.

On Tuesday, July 23rd, Real Gastropub hosted the first tapping with a takeover event with beer reps. On Thursday, July 25th, Village Bottle Shop hosted a Founders-specific tapping party with special kegs and plenty of canned offerings to go. Draft, cans, and bottles from all the new breweries can be found at both Real and Village, with the selection expected to expand. Always fun chatting with you Tim!

With huge thanks to Andy Baker of the Odom Corporation and Doug Lamerson, local beer-guru and homebrewer, I was extended an invitation to the inaugural Odom Corporation Hawai'i Product Show at the Honolulu Country Club on Wednesday, July 24th. The reception had selections to sample from each of the new beverage makers, plus heavy pupus. 

Accompanied by my supportive better half Kristine, we arrived at the beginning of the event and were immediately greeted and welcomed in. The evening had the air of small beer festival, where everyone was interested in the products they were selling or potentially buying. Each brewery had a table with two to four beverage offerings, as well as swag and sale sheets for the initial beers launching in Hawaii. Each was excited to be there and share their product. Almost all of the new breweries displayed the BA Independent Craft Seal, which I was happy to see. Employees of the distributor Odom were also on hand to talk about the company itself.

I had a genuinely fun time talking story with the representatives and brewers in attendance. In no way an exhaustive list, thanks for telling me about your products and sharing beer: John Ioane, Executive VP of Sales, Joe Carter, VP of Soft Drink Division, Lauren Payne, Sales Rep, and Jack Tullis all from Odom Corporation; Ryan Connell Sales Rep for Founders; Ron Lloyd, CEO of San Juan Seltzer; Doug Ellenberger, Owner & Brewmaster of Everybody’s Brewing; Kevin Nolton, Director of Sales for Black Raven; Mike Jaskari, National Sales Manger for Alaskan Brewing, and Mac Rankin owner and original brewer of Mac & Jack’s Brewing.

Keep an eye out for new cans and releases throughout the year, seasonals and special releases will be coming along with the rest of each company’s core offerings.

UPDATE: the new distribution area is only the island of Oahu for the first year.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Hilo Brewfest & Homebrew Competition 2019

View from the Festival
The seventh annual Hilo Brewfest was held on June 29th, 2019 at the Wainaku Center along the coast. The festival started as the Hilo Rotary Club’s fundraiser, 100% of ticket sales still go to local charities each year. Beer and food are donated to the event. A VIP hour offered additional food and beer selections as well as an AC room throughout the entire event. It was a nice sized crowd, never being overwhelming like some other festivals with minimal lines for any given brewery. It rained on and off throughout the festival, which was pleasant on an otherwise hot and humid day. I personally enjoyed meeting new people in person for the first time and seeing so many friends!
Amazing Volunteers

The Usual Suspects
The Temple
While the festival was the end of a long weekend, the Hilo Homebrew Competition took up most of our time. The Thursday and Friday before the festival, around a dozen BJCP Judges met at the forthcoming The Temple Craft Beer & Wine Bar. The owner Ian provided us the space and time needed to judge. The competition was planned and organized by Bob Culnan, who did an excellent job of managing time and the entries. We did three flights, two on Thursday and one on Friday morning, with Best of Show completed after lunch Friday. Five beers made it to the final round with a Double IPA taking the gold. There were many excellent entries this year, results can be found HERE and were also announced at the festival.

Hilo Brewing New Cans
Besides the competition, I also finally visited Mehana and Hawaii-Nui Breweries. These two old staples are rebranding under new ownership into the forthcoming Hilo Brewing & Beverage. The bartender Kim gave us a short tour of the facility and talked about all the beers. (It was also great running into him at the festival!) I enjoyed seeing the new can art, which will be hitting shelves in the next few months. I tried all weekend to meet the new brewer Sebastian Bach, but eventually ran into him at the festival as well! One highlight was getting to try the Pineapples Gold Ale that’s only available at Pineapples Restaurant in Hilo and brewed by Hilo Brewing (Mehana); it was refreshing with the pineapple wedge.

Banyan Drive
Banyan Drive with the Queen Liliuokalani Gardens and Coconut Island was my favorite non-beer activity for the weekend, and I was thankful I had time for two morning runs around the area. Each Banyan Tree was planted by someone famous over the years so each has a plaque with the name. Coconut Island offered a panoramic view of the area, Hilo Town, and Mauna Kea in the distance. The Grand Naniloa Hotel was also nearby with Hula Hulas Bar & Grill inside offering great food choices and local beer. Friday they had an Ola Brew Tap Takeover in conjunction with the festival; I loved trying three new beers from them and snagging a new hat! It was a great weekend of beer, family, and friends; I hope to attend this festival again in the future!

It was wonderful seeing everyone, there's too many people to mention by name. The beer community is a small group and it's a great excuse to island hop for a few days!

Ola Brew Tap Takeover