There are two breweries on Kauai Island, Kauai Beer Company near the airport in Lihue, and Kauai Island Brewery and Grill, a sports bar on the South side of the island. Neither one bottles anything and both are in places the average tourist isn’t going to spend much time. I stopped by Kauai Beer Company when I landed because it is close to the airport and they were closed the day I flew out. I didn’t check if either of the breweries fill blank growlers but considering they both sell stainless steel growlers I would only recommend buying one of their growlers if you are going to be on the island for a few weeks, otherwise bring your own stainless steel growler if you are interested in some beer to go. Both breweries make a lager and a few other similar lighter beers. I skipped those in favor of the styles that I am most interested in, mostly because they charge $2.50 per taster.
Kauai Beer Company
I tried four beers at Kauai Beer Company, the Summer Red, IPA, Double IPA, and Oaked Porter. The Summer Red was good and balanced with fruity hops taking center stage with nice stone fruit flavors and a light bitterness. The IPA was pretty average with fruit and citrus at the front and a floral finish that I wasn’t a fan of. The Double IPA doesn’t have the same floral finish and is a bit more balanced and smooth with a citrus kick and strong bitter finish. The Oaked Porter was quite tasty with smooth body from the oak and a nice combination of light roast, mild smoke, and smooth oak. This was probably the best they had, and I can see why people are raving about it on Yelp.
Kauai Island Brewery and Grill
At Kauai Island Brewery and Grill I tried four beers as well. I tried their Lilikol Ale brewed with passion fruit, Fonz IPA, red, and porter. The Lilikol Ale was smooth and delicious with plenty of passion fruit flavor. The beer was more sweet than tart and though it might have been more my thing with a light tart finish, it was still very easy drinking and delicious. The Fonz IPA has great flavors of mango and citrus with a strong bitter finish that didn’t overpower the rest of it. I thought this was much better than the Kauai Beer Company IPA. The red ale was nicely balanced with fruity hops and a bitter finish. It lacked the sweeter fruit taste from the other brewery but was still solid. The porter was pretty standard with a mix of roast and caramel and a nice medium body.
Each of the breweries I visited had one or two beers that I really liked. If I had brought a growler with me I might have filled it at Kauai Island Brewery and Grill with their IPA or the passion fruit beer. If you are a big fan of IPAs, you should visit Kauai Island Brewery because I thought theirs was closer to the west coast style I love. Considering the selection of beers in most local grocery stores, many shipped from other islands, it s worth making the trip out to one of these two local breweries.
In Part 1 of this two part post I wrote about Prison Hill Brewing in Yuma and three Phoenix area breweries, Papago, Fate, and Goldwater. In this post I include the remaining 3 breweries from my visit, Huss, Arizona Wilderness, and Beer Research Institute.
Huss Brewing Company
In typical brewery style, Huss is tucked away in an industrial park and has a fairly small tasting room though with a decent amount of seating. They only serve their house beers but they have quite a lineup such that I didn’t taste everything, especially because this was my fourth stop for the day! I tried the Southern Hussy peach ale, Husstler milk stout, Peanut Butter Husstler, That’ll Do IPA and Grapefruit IPA. The Southern Hussy is a delicious barrel-aged peach ale lightly tart and very strong peach flavors that were balanced out nicely by the oak.
The Husstler Milk Stout is a fairly light body milk stout, not too sweet and very smooth. I liked it but the Peanut Butter version was much better, with a good amount of nutty flavor and mild chocolate. I filled a growler of this one to take home and it was quite delicious 5 days later. The IPA was very nicely done with good balance and solid bitterness. The flavors were mostly on the citrus and fruit side. The grapefruit version was even better, with a nice blend from the added grapefruit.
Top 2 from Huss:
Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company
AZ Wilderness is one of the more hyped breweries I visited. They brew a lot of different beers all the time so the lineup changes quite regularly aside from their IPA which is always available. They have a large restaurant with parking that fills up quickly and a lot of people hanging out in the tasting room area were just waiting for their table. Thankfully they cleared out quickly so I had plenty of room to hang out and do a few flights. They have delightful hardwood all around, including a huge piece for the bar and smaller logs for holding your flights.
I did two separate flights for a total of 10 tasters while I was there. The first flight included a berliner weisse, saison, oak aged bitter, Dekopa Belgian pale ale and milk stout. The second flight included the coffee stout, peanut brittle ale, Big Eye Rye double IPA, Refuge IPA, and Biere de Wassail Belgian Christmas ale. The Berliner Weisse was quite well done just as you would expect with a nice light fruity flavor, very mild tartness, high carbonation, and a light hop flavor. I recommended it to quite a few people at the bar when they asked for something light when the bartender for some reason didn’t think that it was a good idea. Most liked it.
The Saison was a delightful peach/orange color and had a good combination of fruity flavors primarily peach with a nice sticky finish. It had just the right amount of saison funk and not a ton of intense spice as you sometimes get. The Oak Aged Bitter is a traditional English style bitter aged in oak barrels. It was quite mild with flavors of coffee and light earthy hops. It was smoothed out nicely by the oak without getting too much intense wood character. The DeKopa Belgian Pale did not taste right to me at all. At least one person confirmed what I tasted while others thought it tasted much different and more typical floral hops with Belgian yeast. To me it had a scent of mildew with flavor of sweaty socks. I even asked the bartender if it was supposed to smell how it did and he confirmed it was. I also had a similar (though not as extreme) experience with Cantillon Grand Cru so if you find similar flavors in that then avoid this. My best suggestion is to ask for a splash before ordering much in case you experience this similarly.
The Milk Stout was good and smooth on nitro with a nice mild smoky flavor and hints of caramel. Very drinkable and delicious. The Coffee Stout was similarly smooth and mild with a nice nutty coffee taste, also very nice. The peanut brittle ale was quite sweet with lots of lactose flavors and a smooth peanut butter flavor. It was quite tasty. The Refuge IPA is a really crisp IPA that to me tasted like fresh cut apples. It had a lot of flavor without a high malt bill and a good medium bitterness that didn’t overpower. The Big Eye Rye is a fantastic sticky dank double IPA bursting with fruity guava and tropical fruit. While a little more bitter than the Refuge it wasn’t overly bitter and I quite liked it.
The Biere de Wassail is a Belgian style Christmas ale. As such I was not surprised that it had quite a lot of spice flavor, high alcohol, and was essentially a fruity version of a Belgian Dark Strong. It was quite sticky sweet and very strong reminiscent of apple pie. I was satisfied by a taster of this but many people were ordering full pours and loving it. Everything I tried at AZ Wilderness was delicious with the exception of the Belgian Pale listed above. I don’t think there was anything wrong with the way they brewed it but there are certain flavors that certain palates taste differently. Some people taste certain stouts as if they have soy sauce, and I apparently taste certain types of Belgian yeast as if they are mildew.
Top 3 from AZ Wilderness:
Big Eye Rye
Saison Beer Research Institute
My last stop of the trip was Beer Research Institute. Though I did stop at Alpine for a bottle pickup and growler fill on the way back I did not do tasters there so I consider this my last stop. Beer Research Institute is surprisingly located in a strip mall. They look like any small strip mall restaurant from the outside and they serve food. We ended up only eating their bread pudding, which was absolutely delicious. I tasted 6 beers while I was there in one flight, Morning Sex coffee porter, Dark Side imperial stout, Intergalactic saison, Street Cred black IPA, Mjango Unchained mango imperial IPA, and Lolli Belgian Tripel.
The Morning Sex coffee stout was slightly sweeter and more balanced than the AZ Wilderness version and had a nice caramel malt background. This is one of the favorites of the guys at AZ Wilderness and I can see why. The Dark Side imperial stout is fruity and slightly sweet with mild smoky and roasty flavors. The Intergalactic saison was a nicely balanced beer with fruity tastes of grapefruit and pineapple and a mild funk. I really enjoyed this one. The Street Cred black IPA was roasty and fairly bitter with fruity hops that are almost hidden under the silky caramel dark malts. I expect a lot more roast and bitterness from my black IPA and I found the hops didn’t really work with the underlying beer too well.
The Mjango Unchained was a super delicious mango double IPA with a sweet mango flavor and very light bitterness. It hid its alcohol really well. My husband actually thought it was pretty good and he hates IPAs. I wish I could have filled a growler with this one. The Lolli was quite sweet and fruity and closer to a tripel than the Belgian Blonde they claim it is on the menu. It has some mild spice on the back from the Belgian yeast. It is solid for a tripel but I was more in the mood for a blonde at the time.
I really like the setup at Beer Research Institute and they are brewing some solid beers for such a young brewery. I understand the limited growler fill options because they seem to be brewing on a very small system. I didn’t try any food other than the dessert but they seemed to be quite popular for what they had.
Top 2 Beer Research Beers:
Morning Sex coffee stout,
Mjango Unchained mango Double IPA
Living in San Diego, I decided to take a road trip to Phoenix for New Years Eve and New Year Day at the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016. We rented a car and drove through Alpine out past El Centro, and stopped by Yuma on the way for Prison Hill Brewing before crashing in Phoenix and hitting four breweries the first day, Papago, Fate, Goldwater, and Huss. We then hit 2 more breweries on the following day, Arizona Wilderness and Beer Research Institute. At each brewery I found something interesting that I appreciated or found to be impressive. This first part of the tour will cover the first four breweries while the second part will cover the last three. I had the most tasters at Arizona Wilderness so it fits that they fall into part 2.
Prison Hill Brewing Yuma Arizona
Prison Hill Brewing was a place we stopped mostly because we needed somewhere to eat on the long drive from San Diego to Phoenix. We left San Diego around 3 and so if we waited 5 hours or more until we got to Phoenix we would have eaten at 8 or later, so we stopped by Prison Hill for dinner and beer. Prison Hill is a brewpub so I had a few tasters while I was there plus we both had dinner. I had four tasters, the Oatmeal pale ale, pumpkin chocolate brown, IPA and Double IPA. The Oatmeal pale was smooth with a nutty malt backbone and mellow hops that balanced nicely. It was quite tasty and worthy of ordering a pint. The pumpkin chocolate brown was smooth and spice forward with more pumpkin spice than chocolate with some hints of caramel malts on the back. The chocolate is quite subtle here and mostly on the bitter side. This is a beer for those who like a lot of spice.
The IPA had aromas of fresh guava on the nose and that was mostly what I tasted as well in the taster. It is a sweet and sticky IPA with other fruit flavors that come through at the end. I ended up ordering a pint of this one and I quite enjoyed it until the end. The double IPA was boozy and sweet with tropical fruit notes towards the end. It wasn’t too bitter and was nicely balanced. Though I found the boozy notes to be a little much, it was still a quite solid double and it could have been a lot worse. Food wise, I really enjoyed their burger and my husband enjoyed his blackened salmon. Both were done properly. It is a nice little place to stop on your way to Phoenix or back to San Diego. Prison Hill also has a full bar available and plenty of bottles available for those who don’t like craft beer.
Top 2 at Prison Hill:
Papago Brewing Scottsdale Arizona
Papago brewing is a brewpub in Scottsdale that serves a few house beers, brewed by Huss (see part 2) and has a decent selection of guest beers and a solid lineup of bottles from all over. Word from the locals is that they started out as one of those bars serving mostly imported beers. When I visited I tried the four house beers, the Coconut Joe, Orange Blossom, IPA, and Oude Zuipers, a Belgian strong ale.
The Coconut Joe is a coconut coffee stout with a light body and a nice mix of mild nutty coffee flavors and stronger coconut. It reminded me of Death by Coconut from Oskar Blues though I don’t know that I would drink a full pint of either. The Orange Blossom is a Mandarina Wheat with vanilla added, and seemed to be a crowd favorite when I visited. It was quite crisp and light with vanilla and orange flavors that balanced nicely with a sweet but not too sweet beer. I could certainly see myself ordering a larger pour of this.
The IPA was very citrus forward and seemed to be a clone of Stone IPA with a strong bitterness and fruity aftertaste. The Oude Zuipers Belgian strong was intensely fruityi and quite sweet with flavors of fresh apple and a nice effervescent carbonation. It hid the high alcohol quite well and I may have gotten a growler fill of it if I had brought along any 32oz growlers. Papago has a solid lineup of both house and guest beers and is worth a visit. I wouldn’t have hit Goldwater Brewing if I hadn’t been suggested by a few guys in the bar.
Top 2 from Papago:
Oude Zuipers Belgian Strong
Fate Brewing Scottsdale Arizona
Next up is Fate Brewing. They have a new restaurant location called Fate Brewing South and a tasting room location at Fate Brewing North that was closed the day I visited. The restaurant has a lot of seating and a good number of seats at the bar. Besides their house beers they have a full bar and a number of guest beers available though it seemed like most people were there for their house beers. I had a flight of six tasters and mostly found their beers to be quite well done. The flight included a single-hop simcoe sour, English pale ale, SPA2.0, American style Pale Ale, brown ale, and export stout.
The single hop sour is light and refreshing and mildly tart with a light hop kick. The beer is mildly bitter like grapefruit with some good fruity flavors, a solid sour. The English Pale is surprisingly light color for the style and had some nice crisp tropical fruit flavors mixed with earthy hops. This was one of the highlights for me. The SPA2.0 was super delicious 5.5% pale bursting with hop flavors, low on bitterness and finishing nicely with grapefruit. I was going to fill a growler of this but the brewery said they decided not to fill outside growlers. I brought 4 San Diego growlers with me to fill along this trip and ended up filling 3 elsewhere.
The American Pale Ale was peach forward in flavor and more malt balanced than the previous two pales. It was also a bit more bitter. I didn’t like this one as much but it was still quite well done. The brown was super smooth thanks to oatmeal added and was nice and thick with plenty of roasted malt flavors. I could have almost mistaken this for a stout. The export stout was nice and lightly smoky with some bitter chocolate finish and a fairly light body. I would have preferred it a little more sweet and thick but it was well done.
Top 2 from Fate:
Goldwater Brewing Company
After Fate my husband drove me to my next stop, Goldwater Brewing, not too far away. He went to do a few other things while I enjoyed the beers there. Goldwater is a proper tasting room not offering food or guest beers. It has a nice laid back atmosphere and I really enjoyed chatting with the people I met there. I tried 5 tasters there, the Desert Rose cactus ale, Dynamite Pale, Birthday Suit IPA, What a Day IPA, and Brutus Imperial Stout.
The Desert Rose is a delightful pink-colored beer slightly sweet with a very mild tartness. You can taste the cactus fruit. I ended up filling a growler of this beer and everyone back home loved it too. The Dynamite Pale is a balanced pale ale bursting with melon and passionfruit. The beer is balanced nicely with some smooth oatmeal with the malts and it finishes with a solid bitterness. The Birthday Suit IPA is poured fresh from the tanks, a quite tasty fruity IPA with notes of pineapple with a nice dank finish and medium bitterness. I also filled a growler of this one to take home. It was quite nice two days later, though a little more dank.
The What a Day IPA was more balanced and pine forward than the Birthday Suit. It was slightly sweet and tasted like it had similar malts to the Dynamite pale. Those who like the West Coast style of IPAs will likely prefer the delicious Birthday Suit. The Brutus Imperial Stout is a super thick and smooth imperial stout with light caramel and chocolate flavors that balance nicely. It was quite impressive. One thing to note is that aside from filling outside growlers Goldwater Brewing also has a Crowler machine so they can offer you beer to go in a large 32oz can if you prefer.
Top 2 from Goldwater:
Birthday Suit IPA
In the second part of the Arizona Breweries list I will discuss Huss brewing, Arizona Wilderness, and Beer Research Experiment.
There are a ton of breweries opening all the time and it can be hard for new ones to stick out among the crowd. That is unless they start out making beers as impressive as those from Fall. Fall is probably one of the most hyped up young breweries lately and I figured I would walk away disappointed but found myself really impressed by a lot of what I tasted. I tried two flights while I was there. My first full flight included the Interpretive Dance Session IPA, Jazz Hands Berliner Weisse, English Pale, Spirit of 77 IPA, and Green Hat IPA. I ended with three dark beers including the ever popular 2AM Bike Ride, Apocalypse Pony, and Fall & Oats.
The Interpretive Dance session IPA was surprisingly potent with tons of hop flavor and high bitterness despite a seriously low 3.5% alcohol. It was a solid mix of tropical fruit and citrus with a seriously bitter finish. The Jazz Hands berliner weisse was crisp and delicious with a mild fruity/tart flavor. It also was surprisingly flavorful for a low 3.5% alcohol. This was one of the more flavorful local versions of the style I have had. The English Pale primarily has a lot of apricot flavor with some mild earthy hops and a crisp sweet finish. It didn’t overwhelm with the malts and was overall a very nicely balanced drinkable beer.
Both the Spirit of 77 and Green Hat IPAs were fantastically balanced and delicious. They were both quite similar in many ways, both having a sticky icky sweetness and both not too overwhelmed by the malts. The 77 IPA was fruity with a piney finish and a little more malt balance. The Green Hat tended more towards the juicy guava and pineapple flavors and was overall deliciously fruity. Neither tasted much like any IPA I have had before while they both were excellent examples of the style. After all the hype for 2AM Bike Ride, I wasn’t too excited by it. It was a very smooth light-body stout with intense bitter coffee and a subtle vanilla in the back. It seemed to lack a complexity or roasted malt flavor that I love so much in the style.
The Apocalypse Pony has a strong vanilla flavor with a mellow coffee finish. Again I found the body lacking here and the vanilla was a little too overpowering for me. The Fall & Oats was quite fruity and the fruit was so sweet I almost thought it was vanilla at first. Like the other two I tried, it was lacking the thicker mouthfeel I love in my stouts and didn’t have the chewy oat character I normally love. Despite the stouts being mostly underwhelming for me, I recognize that they are quite popular among other groups. 2AM Bike Ride is a big hit with many of the local beer fans. Still, the two IPAs were so delicious and showed a real skill with blending hop flavors that I don’t see often with young breweries. If you haven’t gotten around to visiting Fall, you should do so soon.
Green Hat IPA
Spirit of 77 IPA
I visited Bitter Brothers with a friend recently, and we both agreed about the most impressive beers in the bunch, which surprisingly were not the IPAs. Though the IPAs were all tasty, some less popular/common styles were among our favorites. We tasted the Berliner Weisse, Session IPA, ESB, Dunkelweizen, coffee porter, Amarillo IPA, and North West style IPA. Bitter Brothers is easy to find right off Morena Blvd in an area not yet surrounded by a ton of other breweries.
The Berliner Weisse was a smooth mix of ginger and grapefruit with a mild tart finish. It had a bit more flavor than the typical new brewery version of the style and a lot of subtleties as well. The session IPA has a nice mix of pineapple and grapefruit with a strong bitter finish. I found this one a little too bitter for what it was but I enjoyed it a little more after it warmed up. The hops come on nice and strong for sure. The ESB was super smooth and flavorful with a nice balance of caramel malts and apricot from the hops. It had a lot more flavor than most local versions and we left wanting more.
The Dunkelweizen was also quite impressive with a sweet plum taste and smooth sweet banana and molasses finish. Both of these styles are quite difficult to execute well and often local ESBs are flavorless or Dunkelweizens are too sweet or lack balance. Neither of these beers had those problems. The coffee porter is available on draft and nitro but I asked the bartender which she preferred and she suggested the draft, so we had that one. It was quite tasty with a strong nutty coffee flavor and a medium body. The taste was almost like a cold brew coffee.
The Amarillo IPA was super fruity with flavors of mango and tangerine. It is a solid version of the local style, low on the malt bill and very hop forward. The North West IPA is the amber color beer you see. It was nicely balanced and bursting with herb and pine hops with notes of sage and a strong bitter finish. They were both enjoyable IPAs though neither of us was craving these as much as the ESB or coffee porter. The IPA you prefer will depend on your preference for hop flavors. Thankfully the North West IPA did not taste like a lot of the boring old-school Portland IPAs that rely too heavily on pine hops.
For a brewery that has only been open a month or so, we were both quite impressed by the beers. Come visit Bitter Brothers with a friend and share a few tasters.