In recent years, a new industry has begun gaining significant popularity on the Big Island and on the mainland. Big Island Beer has grown increasingly popular as locally brewed beverages have incorporated some unique methods and flavors into their product offerings. Four of the most popular breweries continue to churn out some of the best beer you’ll find anywhere.
Kona Brewing Company
Let’s start with the most famous of the four. You’ve likely seen their flagship beer, Big Wave Lager, in your local store. Kona Brewing’s headquarters in Kona offers a great selection of some “Backyard Batches.” These selections are exclusively available on-island. The selection and breadth of flavors leaves something for everyone. They offer various IPAs, porters, wheats, and ales. The most recent addition to this location is a full brewery tour for individuals at least 15 years of age. A liquid aloha guide will walk you through the 30,000 sqft. brewery warehouse. Samples are provided during the 1 hour tour which requires a reservation.
Lastly, another highly popular facet of this location is the Kona Brewing Company restaurant. Outdoor seating lined with tropical plants and tiki torches set the mood for a great dining experience. Beer flights and tastings are available alongside an excellent pub-style menu.
The newest of the local breweries on the big island, Ola Brew Company is unique for their selection of both beers, ciders, and even hard seltzers and teas. The recent trend of ciders has led to some incredibly flavorful varieties on the Big Island where tropical fruits abound. Their Kona Gold hard cider and hibiscus lavender hard seltzer are incredibly popular. All of their hard ciders and seltzers are available to be brought home in cans. Ola Brewery Thursdays are always a fun event due to their limited edition releases. Every Thursday the Kona Taproom drops a limited edition flavor that brings in a crowd for tastings. The Kona Taproom offers food and tour options as well.
Big Island Brewhaus
Located just outside main street Waimea, Big Island Brewhaus is a small microbrewery that boasts a roster of award-winning craft beer. For the craft beer enthusiast, this is among the best locations on the Big Island to sample some European-Hawaiian varieties of beer.
Their food menu is diverse as well. They offer many Mexican/American options and interestingly enough, some really good margaritas to go with the Mexican portion of the menu. The Lilikoi or Lime margaritas offer an aloha twist on this Mexican staple.
Hilo Brewing Company
Hilo Brewing Company is Hilo’s signature contribution to the beer scene on the Big Island. This microbrewery was founded in 2018 by the Mehana and Hawai’i Nui Brands. The merging of these brands resulted in decades of experience being merged into hand-crafted Hilo varieties available locally. This small micro-brewery has a tasting room where you can discover intimate details about the process and history of the brew masters and the brand.
No popular activity on the Big Island is complete without its signature festival and craft beer is no different. Craft beer festivals are making a return to the Big Island after a pandemic hiatus. The signature event is the Kona Brewers Festival. It is scheduled to return on March 11, 2023. This annual event showcases 60+ beers and beverages from Hawai’i, gourmet food, a golf tournament and a fundraiser, “Run for the Hops.” It is an incredibly fun event showcasing this side of Hawaii’s craft culture.