Looking for an excuse to go island hopping is usually pretty easy, especially when it involves friends and beer festivals.
When we heard about the Kona Brew Festival a few years back, J.O and I were determined to someday attend. For the past 18 years, local brewers from the islands and surrounding areas have gathered in Kona to celebrate the land and working together. There is a kick off lu’au, a golf tournament and finally the actual beer festival where there are 70 different beers and various food samplings from 35 chefs.
A fellow lineman friend, whom J.O had worked with in the past, contacted us a few weeks ago to let us know that he and his girlfriend would be vacationing on the BIg Island and if possible, they would love to meet up. We looked at the dates and noticed that their time here overlapped with the beer festival. Perfect! We knew that we wouldn’t be able to attend the main event, as those tickets sold out within three days of going on sale, and we didn’t want to bank on finding tickets. We could, however, attend the kick off lu’au; a party put on by Kona Brewery held at the Sheraton, same hotel our friends were staying at.
Due to a slower time period at J.O’s work, taking off a day or two would not be an issue, so we booked our plane tickets and headed over to the Big Island Wednesday night. We had a fun night out reuniting with our friends at our favorite, Humpy’s Ale House in Kona. On Thursday we simply hung out in downtown Kona, soaking up the sun and walking the strip. We also relaxed at the pool at the Sheraton where our friends were staying and where the lu’au would be held at. Great pool with an amazing view of the Pacific! They even have a killer water slide which I obviously took part in. We were having such a great time, we decided to transfer our tickets to a later flight the following day; Hawaiian Airlines is great about ticket transfers.
The kick off party was really well done. They had a nice silent auction as well as live music and dancing entertainment. There were 5 different tables set up, each holding two different beers from Kona Brewery and then two different foods that were to be paired with the beer.
Some of the various pairings we had were the Lavaman Red Ale with a white chocolate pudding, the Whale (a seasonal hoppy wheat beer) with ahi poke, the Lemongrass (wheat beer) paired with a carrot and ranch, the Honey Cream Ale with panko fried fish, the Vanilla Creme Stout with a grilled skewer of beef and the Pipeline Porter paired with chocolate truffles. It was really interesting to taste how the pairings actually did complement each other! I will admit, I was a little apprehensive on the lemongrass beer with the carrot! There was no limit on the amount of food or beer you wanted to sample, so we were able to try the combos many times
The next day, we had breakfast with our friends and then went our separate ways. J.O and I decided to take a drive and head North to Kapaau and then over to Wiamea. It’s always such a lovely drive and so interesting to see the scenery and the temp change. We had lunch at the actual Kona Brewery and then relaxed on the beach by the old airport.
It was a lovely few days on the Big Island and we were home in Waialua just in time for the 9 o’clock news. We’re hoping that when tickets go on sale for next years fest, we will be able to plan it out and go to the main event! But if not, at least we know that even the kick off party if worth the flight. But, lets be honest, any reason to go to Kona is worth the flight.
To learn more about the Kona Brew Festival, click HERE.