“In the spring, a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of beer.” —Lord Tennyson's lesser known cousin, Skippy
After a long, desolate San Diego winter, it's only natural to yearn for the warm embrace of a tropical sun. While tourists readily mortgage their homes to travel abroad for such experiences, savvy beer drinkers know there's a 100-percent-melanoma-free way to simulate the experience. Kona Brewing, Hawaii's largest craft brewer, has been delivering the aloha spirit to mainland livers for more than 15 years.
Kona's doing its part to welcome spring with Koko Brown Ale, its newest seasonal release. It's part of the brewer's “Aloha Series,” in which Mattson Davis, Kona Brewing's president, leverages local ingredients in the brewing process. “It has about 100 pounds of toasted coconut per batch. It's about a pound of coconut per barrel of beer. We add it into the mash tun to try and get those roasty, kind of nutty flavors out of it,” Davis tells CityBeat.
Needless to say, this brew isn't targeted at the coconut averse. The aroma is nutty and creamy with ample toasted-coconut sweetness. Thankfully, the experience shifts away from piña colada territory with the first sip, which brings a surprising amount of grassy and earthy hop notes to bear (for a brown ale, at least). There's still a prominent amount of coconut and nuttiness that manifests in a chocolate-milk sweetness, but you never forget you're drinking a beer.
For those who insist on tainting the purity of their beer with food, Davis recommends pairing this undeniably sessionable brew with sweet, spicy meals. “This beer is particularly good with Thai food and other caramelized foods,” he says.
The Koko Brown Ale should be available through April. You'll find it on tap at Moondoggies, Big Kahuna's, Lahaina Beach House and other joints that'll try to sell you a pu-pu platter with a straight face.