Guide to the Great Waikiki Beer Festival

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glass-of-beer-1328545-1279x1884The inaugural Great Waikiki Beer Festival happens at the Hilton Hawaiian Village this weekend, with a paired Brewer’s Dinner on Friday, the big beer event with 100 brews on Saturday and a “recovery day” Brewer’s Brunch on Sunday.

Without further ado, here are some beers to look for plus a guide to the events.

The Beer

Nothing wards off the summer mugginess like an ice-cold beer. There’ll be 100 local and national craft brews to try at this weekend’s fest.

A word to the wise: Seriously, don’t even try to sample all 100. You won’t remember your favorites. Here’s a few picks to start you off:

Sierra Nevada Experimental Hop Harvest draft – OK, you got me. I’m a sucker for anything that says “experimental” or “beta.” The Hop Harvest line sierra nevadafrom Sierra Nevada showcases whole cone hops with a zesty, fresh IPA aroma steam-distilled from wet hops.

Aloha Red Ale – A smooth, refreshing, malty red ale from the now-retired 580 N. Nimitz Highway brewery by Sam Choy’s, this was one of my favorite ales to pair with poke and fried foods. Approachable flavor for those looking for something in between light and dark beers.

2 Towns – Ginja Ninja – An astonishing offering from 2 Towns Ciderhouse in Oregon, this is a stealthy bit of deliciousness made with fresh apples and pure ginger root that will creep up on you with a bite and then disappear in a flashy fizz.

Deschutes – Twilight Summer Ale – An award-winning golden-hued ale with a malt body led by bold Amarillo hops.

Green Flash – West Coast IPA – Did you know that there’s only so much bitterness human taste buds can register? Green Flash is notorious for going beyond that, with an IBU (International Bitterness Unit) level in this complex Double IPA that’ll blow your mind if you think about it too hard, but that still feels good on your tongue. For the serious lover of IPAs.

Maui Brewing Company – Kihei Kolsch – What makes a Kolsch a Kolsch? The term Kölsch was first officially used in 1918 to describe a stylistically kihei kolschunique beer that had been brewed by the Sünner brewery in Cologne, Germany since 1906. Kihei Kolsch shares the traits of this esteemed German style with a crisp and flavorful straw-yellow brew made with light European Pilsner malts, a blend of traditional German noble hops and spicy, citrusy hops from the Pacific Northwest.

Belching Beaver Brewery – Peanut Butter Milk Stout – Like a chocolate and peanut butter candy bar in a bottle. A mild, creamy brew that’s surprisingly refreshing for a stout. One of my all-time favorite beers that I’ll never turn down.

Gigantic Brewing Company – Ginormous Imperial IPA – The name pretty much says it all. If you’re looking for an IPA with big flavor, you’ve come to the right one. Developed in a secret testing facility deep in Portland, Ginormous is powered by seven mighty hops. His mission is simple: deliver a massive hop punch to those in need.

MEHANA – Mauna Kea Pale Ale – An easy drinking, refreshing pale ale that pairs GREAT with Thai or Indian food (although you’re not likely to find either at this weekend’s festival), this ale, named for Big Island’s majestic mountain, is a dry, well-balanced brew with lots of up-front hoppiness and malt.

Honolulu Beerworks – Pia Mahi’ai Honey Citrus Saison – A fruity tribute to the classic Belgian farmhouse ale style, this local saison is brewed with locally grown oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes, lemongrass and Big Island Honey for a smooth, unfiltered, slightly spicy finish.

Square Mile – Spur & Vine Cider – Especially in this summer heat, we’re seeing an increase in popularity of hard ciders. Spur & Vine puts a Northwest twist on the classic American hard apple cider, with Galaxy hops, a cold conditioning brewing method and aromas of peach, melon and honeysuckle with less hoppy bitterness.

Traveler Jack – Traveler Jack-O-Pumpkin Shandy – For those who will always take the road less traveled, just to see what will happen. Balanced right between brightly refreshing and seasonal spice, Jack is brewed with fresh pumpkin, for a delicious dark-hued, Shandy-inspired beer that’s still light enough to finish off a few.


The events

All events take place at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. For tickets, call 947-7955 or visit the Luau Desk in the main lobby.

Friday, Aug. 28 : “Taste of the Aina” Brewers Dinner – 6-9pm
Rooftop Garden – Mid-Pacific Conference Center
Tickets $120, must be 21+

A five-course menu of locally sourced ingredients paired with select beers from Hawaii’s top breweries. Local brewers will be on hand to talk beer and brewing and share the art of beer pairing. Live music by Kamuela.

Saturday, Aug. 29 : Great Waikiki Beer Festival – A Celebration of 100 Beers, 6-9pm
Great Lawn fronting the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon, Must be 21+
Tickets $80 or $90 at the door, $100 for Early Access with 5pm entry, 15 percent military discount
Ticket holders can purchase additional 4-oz tastings for $2

The big beer event, celebrating 100 beers. Live entertainment by Anuhea, Backwards Shaka and Kailua Bay Buddies. Tickets include 10 4-oz beer samples, food, live entertainment and complimentary validated self-parking.

Sunday, Aug. 30 : Rehab Beer Brunch – 9am-3pm
Tropics Bar & Grill, beachfront Hilton Hawaiian Village

Recover from the weekend with a Brewer’s Brunch featuring island brunch favorites, $4 beer selections and Bloody Marys. No reservations required.


anuheaThe Entertainment

Kamuela will be providing the music on Friday at the Brewer’s Dinner.

Saturday, August 29 is the big event, with the giant celebration of 100 beers, plus live entertainment by Island favorite Anuhea, along with Backwards Shaka and Kailua Bay Buddies.


The lowdown

This isn’t just a great place to drink craft beers and try amazing food, it’s helping out a good cause.
“The goal is to provide support to Hawaii’s Wounded Warriors and their families, offering them respite from the difficulties of their injuries and transition from the military,” said Scott Hamilton, Hilton Hawaiian Village’s Director of Food and Beverage. “The Wounded Warrior units we are supporting include Warrior Transition Battalion, Tripler Army Medical Center and Wounded Warrior Battalion West – Charlie Company (Kaneohe Marine Corps Base Hawaii). Funds will go to support activities for all branches of services, including Wounded Warrior Family Days, Military Balls and other events.”