Kona Brewers FestivalDay three of my trip to Kona finally brought the KonaBrewers Festival itself. I will admit that I was barely a human by the time of the 2:30 opening of the festival; my morning spent licking the wounds of a dedicated reporter (Gonzo journalist?) working hard for 3 nights and days. But of course I was on my feet and the festival brought a welcome and comforting environment of fellow beer lovers, Hawaiian delicacies and great beer. The temperature was a beautiful 70 degrees, the beer an icy 39 and just enough breeze to remind us that the ocean was just about 20 yards away. In the great words of Flight of the Conchords, conditions were perfect!

 

 

Evil Church

 

A great surprise for me right after I arrived and headed for the festivities at the main stage was running into a decorated member of the BN ARMY complete with his uniform and a beer in hand. I believe he goes by the handle EVILCHURCH in the forum, and he showed me around to my first beer of the fest while we talked BN and admired the...ahem...sites. He also introduced me to a friend who had just won a competition from advice passed along from The BN, including Tasty's lazy bottle fill from tap solution. So as always, The BN is everywhere.

 

As I approached the main stage of the event, I discovered they were having a trash fashion show, where festival goers displayed their outfits made entirely of garbage. Which by the way, is my kind of fashion show; recycled and trashy. Just don't get too close with your germs please. Here are some of the contestants. Hover over the pics for descriptions where available:

Imperial Storm Trooper

Trash Warrior?

Obama Girl

I think the last competitor has been on the beach to long if she thinks that Obama outfit is made from trash. Or maybe they just have really great trash on the islands.

Jeff Liles and me

 

There were also bands on the main stage that kept us all entertained for the afternoon, but I spent most of the time wandering the festival and meeting people. The crowds were mostly near the stage, which made enjoying the food and other vendors at the festival easy. I want to give edible honorable mention to Kailua Pork, which seemed a main ingredient in many of the dishes being served throughout the island, and also which I think I can not go on living without. Damn you Kona!It is the traditional pork you think of when you think of Hawaii, slow cooked underground and delicious.

While wandering I ran into the brewer of the Oahu Gordon Biersch Jeff Liles, and told him of our long standing love of Gordon Biersch at The BN. He too has a german brewing education and of course an outstanding affection for the German styles of beers.  In this short video, Jeff talks a little about his history with Gordon Biersch and one of his newest creations, Kellerbier.

 

 

Another great meeting I had at the festival was running into Rich Norgrove and his wife Tami from Bear Republic, and the crew from Maui Brewing Company, Garrett Marrero and his wife Melanie and their brewer Scott Freitas. Maui Brewing had been pouring their Maui Wowee beer made with hemp seeds, which I missed, and of course their fabulous Coconut Porter, which was awesome. Here is the whole crew telling us about the festival, their beers, and where Maui will be brewed (just keep in mind that we had been having a blast all afternoon...and it shows!)

 

Wood Aged IPAMy honorable mention beer for the festival was this Wood Aged Imperial IPA from Turtle Mountain Brewing Company out of Rio Rancho, New Mexico. Unfortunately for me, the brewers where no longer at the booth by the time I  made it there to tell me about the beer. I found it to be perfectly oaked, without too much wood, not so imperial that you would not want another, and hoppy enough to be called west coast. As you can see in the picture, the color was also a beautiful deep amber and quite cloudy, which is how I like my Imperial IPA's. Well done folks!

If you have been following these posts, and as you can well imagine, I had a wonderful time in Kona. I found the folks at Kona Brewing Company to be very hospitable, and the organizers of the festival to be professional and well versed in the art of beer fests. Even when the lights went out on the festival and we were ushered out, the crowds did not protest or complain, and the security did not push or badger.Very well done by an obviously experienced crew.

Mike White and Banner

 

I'd like to give special thanks to Wendy Tucciarone, who granted me access to the festival and provided the necessary connections to make these posts happen, and I never even got to meet her. Wendy is a star in my book. And also, a very very special thanks to White Labs Yeast for not only sponsoring The Brewing Network throughout the years, as well as on this trip, but for being friends as well. Prost to the brothers White! (and thanks for the upgrade Whitey!! You'd think I would have been better rested...)

To end this series on Kona 09, I'll leave you with a few random pictures of good people and great locations that I took while there. They did not all fit within posts, but are just as relevant to understanding why this festival is special.

Mahalo Kona and everyone who made this trip possible. I think you've forced me to return...and my arm hurts from the twisting.

 

Gregory Peters, Cynthia Ktalj and Tami Norgrove

Mike getting beer

Maui and Bear

Peacock Golf

Sun and Surf

Off the Tee Box

Brewcaster J is the founder of The Brewing Network and host of The Sunday Session....and very very lucky.