To coffee drinkers, the word “Kona” can often make their mouths begin to water. A celebrated coffee bean strain, this same coffee seems largely to be the inspiration (if not merely an inspiration) behind the naming of this, one of the only Hawaiian breweries that I – a mainlander from the furthest continental reaches away from Hawaii – am aware of. Now, I’d just like to ask that everyone acknowledge that I just checked my geographic privilege as a New Englander, admitting that I don’t know a damn thing about Hawaii or its brewing scene.
I’d hate to be charged with…I don’t know, “geographicism” or some other contrived nonsense by the hordes of new “beer critics” who seem hell bent on calling the entire industry sexist, racist and oppressive. I mean honestly, I suppose in lieu of an appreciation for beer or decent writing skill, taking up the fashionably outraged identitarian political perspective to indulge in feckless call out culture point scoring is an option. It’s just not one I’d take.
But all this aside and absent a further tangent, here I have a coffee porter from Kona Brewing. This again, is the only Hawaiian brewery to make it this far east and from what I’ve tried of their wares thus far, they seem skilled, albeit working upon something of a cautionary line, much like many southern brewers who have yet to fully embrace the joys of hops or heavily roasted malts. That being said, in the world of coffee porters, I can think of few other varieties of coffee that I would be as enthused to see arrive in my black and inky beer as that of Kona.
So to begin with, this beer pours rather enthusiastically. It has no reservations about building up a fine foam head and doing its damnedest to chuck as much of that over the lip of your glass as it can. This of course does not require an aggressive pour and at the same time, is not some fountain of foam as some Belgian styles can be known to be. Instead, this is merely an aggressive head which stacks up upon a heavier porter body, promising if nothing else, a finely fermented winter sip. This, thankfully, is exactly what we get.
To the nose, this beer is pure roasted coffee beans. The malt profile in its scent is diminished, if not outright demure. However it still exists just so boldly as to support the aforementioned and entirely dominant coffee notes which happily possess the entirety of the smell. This however is not so readily reflected in the sip as between the medium to medium-heavy body as well as the smooth and unimposing richness of the coffee flavor notes, the malts are allowed enough room to breathe, all while at the same time, the body remains heavy enough to where regarding this as a “stout” sort of porter is not all that off the mark.
At 5.3% ABV it is yet another easy sipper that relies more on flavor than real alcoholic punch. Though light enough in the booze department where in theory, one could make a six pack of this their night’s sip, it at the same time possesses enough of a boldness of body and character to where that may be a bit much. All in all, having sampled three offerings from Kona thus far, I am not only most impressed with this one comparatively, but am generally pleased with it overall as a porter.
So to Kona Brewing, to Hawaii, where I shall one day live and of course, to you I say as always…
While the brewery may have provided the product mentioned above for free, I was not required to write a positive review, I did not receive any monetary compensation, and the honest opinions I have expressed are my own.
Nicholas Goroff is an actor, writer and craft beer reviewer at EveryJoe.com. Certified as a Cicerone beer server, he is working towards obtaining certification as a beer judge while employed at Bert’s Better Beers in Hooksett, NH. When not reviewing beer, wine and spirits, he is typically writing political essays, screenplays and short fiction. Follow him on Twitter @wizardofcause.
Read more beer reviews from Goroff by clicking through the gallery below.