I had never tried any of Kona Brewing Company’s beers before, but when they contacted me to see if I would review their Wailua Wheat (made with passion fruit!), I of course said yes. I wasn’t sure what I thought about passion fruit, but I do appreciate a good wheat beer, so I was eager to give this a try.
I had forgotten they were even sending me the samples when, lo and behold, a package appears on my doorstep bearing not two, but four reviewing bottles. I usually get two bottles, and that is perfect for my reviews. I always modify my tasting notes after the second bottle, as I finally pinpoint certain flavor notes or aromas, or just come up with a better way to describe the play of malt and hops on the palate, for example. Four tasting bottles meant I could share this bounty with my fellow beer lover, Elmer.
Here is some of what Kona Brewing Company had to say in the accompanying press release:
Feel that ocean breeze, temperatures around you starting to climb and a new pep in your step? That’s Hawaii calling you, and if you’re not soon boarding a flight bound for the Big Island, you can transport yourself in spirit with a bottle of Wailua Wheat, Kona Brewing Company’s spring/summer beer brewed with tropical passion fruit from Hawaii.
They go on to say that this beer will be available through August 2010, and that its bright citrusy notes will complement summer’s grilled fish and shrimp, roasted chicken, salads and Asian foods and even vanilla ice cream.
Here is what I thought…
A two finger thick, fluffy white head rests momentarily atop the lightly golden straw brew, and dissipates somewhat quickly. A small amount of lacing decorates the glass as the head dissipates and as the beer is enjoyed.
The nose on this beer is clear and unmistakable. Quite simple, but pleasant. The wheat and passion fruit are present in spades, but hints of orange also make subtle appearances.
I must be honest with you, fair readers. I was quite underwhelmed with my first impression of this beer. I found it overly light and thin and not anywhere near wheaty enough for my tastes. By the time I finished the first bottle, though, I was beginning to appreciate this beer much more. It is mildly wheaty, but quite strong on passion fruit. Orange flavors are there as well. In essence, the taste very closely mirrors the nose. It is indeed quite thin and light, but it has a refreshing nature and clean mouthfeel that fit the spring and summer seasons very well. There is a very very slight hop bitterness on the finish as well. Without the passion fruit, there would not be much in the way of flavor in this beer, but the passion fruit flavor is done very well. It is there, and you know it’s passion fruit, but it doesn’t taste overpowering or artificial.
This turned out to be a refreshing, clean beer that gives you unique flavor without weighing you down. I prefer fuller bodied beers with more complexity, but if you like your beers lighter and more refreshing, this is a good choice for an occasional change. The fact that it is only available seasonally means you can enjoy it year after year without burning out on it. I would say this would definitely pair well with grilled seafood or chicken.
This would have been a very refreshing beer to drink while grilling or with which to follow up a Saturday spent landscaping the yard. This would also be a great beach beer or Jimmy Buffett concert beer, as the passion fruit would add to the tropical atmosphere of either locale. If you like lighter beers (at least lighter as far as body and hue), give this a shot.
Price: Unknown (reviewing sample)