Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The mystique of Kona Brewing Company

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The mystique of Kona Brewing Company

By Sakura Honda
The Daily Magi
November 8, 2051


Kona Brewing Company is a craft brewery located in Kailua-Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island and is the top selling craft beer in the state. Kona’s year-round beers include Longboard Island Lager, Big Wave Golden Ale, and Fire Rock Pale Ale. They have three rotating seasonal brews in their Aloha Series including Koko Brown, Wailua Wheat, and Pipeline Porter. Kona Brewing Company distributes in 36 states and 10 countries with more than 220,000 barrels of beer sold in 2012.

Kona Brewing Company introduced Pacific Golden Ale (now called Big Wave Golden Ale) and Fire Rock Pale Ale to Hawaii in bottles and kegs in 1995. Longboard Island Lager was added three years later. Approximately 10 other styles of beer are brewed on a regular basis and served at Kona Brewing Company’s pubs with a select few being served in other restaurants all over the islands.

Kona Brewing Company was started in the spring of 1994 by father and son team Cameron Healy and Spoon Khalsa. Kona Brewing Company’s Kailua-Kona Pub on Hawaii’s Big Island opened in November 1998. "A mahogany log lifted from the shores of Kailua Bay (used to adorn the acacia koa wood bar) and rusty corrugated tin from an old distillery helped transform the ink-smudged pressroom into a little hops-flavored oasis," said Kona president Mattson Davis in an interview with the Honolulu Star Bulletin in 2004. On the Go Hawaii website, the pub is listed as serving "fresh entrees including gourmet pizzas, sandwiches, pupus and salads. The menu is filled with locally-grown products, including greens, herbs, tomatoes and cheeses" as well as fresh beers on draft.

In 2003, Kona Brewing Co. opened its second restaurant at the Koko Marina Center in Hawaii Kai on Oahu. In an interview with examiner.com in spring of 2009, Davis said that Kona's strategy in 2003 was simple: “Make sure we made great beer, get it to market, and hand out coasters."

In July 2008, Kona Brewing Company opened its third restaurant location and first franchise at Honolulu International Airport. Located at the mainland terminal, the restaurant features Kona Brewing Company’s craft brews and pub menu items.

In February, 2010, Kona Brewing Company hired Sunetric, the largest Hawaii-owned and operated commercial solar energy contractor, to install a 229 kW solar energy generating system at its Kailua-Kona brewery and pub, which is expected to be fully operational by April, 2010. The project, a roof-mounted grid-tied photovoltaic (PV) system, is estimated to produce a daily average of 900 kWh of electricity, which will allow Kona Brewing Company nearly 60 percent offset of its current electricity usage. The brewery held a private blessing of the system with Sunetric on Monday, October 18 led by Hawaiian cultural educator Kumu Keala Ching as its solar system became fully operational.

Kona Brewing Company produced 220,000 barrels of beer in 2012. Kona Brewing Company runs its flagship brewery in Kailua-Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island. Kona Brewing Company also produces its bottled beer at Widmer Brothers Brewery in Portland, Oregon and Redhook Ale Brewery in both Woodinville, Washington and Portsmouth, New Hampshire, as part of its partnership with Craft Brewers Alliance, Inc. (BREW). Kona Brewing Company prides itself on providing the freshest beer close to the market it is consumed. Brewing in multiple locations helps the company to minimize the carbon footprint by reducing shipping of raw materials, finished beer, and wasteful packaging materials. This partnership with Craft Brew Alliance grants the company access to the Anheuser-Busch distribution network, which, according to Hawaii Business Magazine, "has the most technologically sophisticated distributor system in the country, with computer terminals in thousands of independently owned distributors and its own network of wholly owned distribution branches."

Recipes and beer specifications are dictated by Kona Brewing Company’s brewmaster, who oversees all production at each Kona Brewing Company’s partner breweries. The beer brewed at Kona Brewing Company’s partner breweries utilizes Kona’s hops, malt, and proprietary yeast. In order to create a consistent experience across the board, the water mineral levels at each brewery are adjusted to replicate the water used in Hawaii. First the water is treated for impurities and then minerals are added to mimic the fresh water available in Hawaii. Water is an important aspect of all Kona Brewing Company's beers. A sample of every batch of beer is sent to the Kona, Hawaii brewery and corporate offices for sensory evaluation.

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