3 We Tried: Who Makes the Best Local Hard Seltzers in Hawai‘i?
Since we’re all having pau hana more at home, we tested some fizzy local drinks with about 5% alcohol and just 100 calories a can.
Every year we seek out the best food, shopping, services and more for our Best of HONOLULU issue to celebrate what makes this city so great. Support for our local businesses means even more to all of us right now. Acknowledging the fact that staying at home, which means no daily commute, is a great excuse to pau hana every day, we went searching for the best local hard seltzer. We cracked open three brands that all launched within the past eight months. Here are some of the top selections. Find out which seltzer came out on top by picking up our Best of HONOLULU issue in late June, on newsstands or at shop.honolulumagazine.com. Subscribe to the print and digital editions now.
Kona Brewing Co.
Though giant Anheuser-Busch announced in November that it would acquire Kona Brewing Co., along with dozens of other regional breweries under the Craft Brew Alliance, we still consider the Big Island-rooted company one of our own. Especially since the 26-year-old brewery’s new facility in Kailua-Kona means most of the cans and kegs sold in the Islands will be made on the Big Island. Kona’s Spiked Island Seltzers quietly appeared just a few months ago, with its variety pack popping up on crowded refrigerator shelves in Hawaiʻi and 16 other states. The most ostensibly aloha-style cans of the three we tried come in flavorful passion orange guava, starfruit lime, tropical punch and strawberry guava. Tropical punch is almost disturbingly accurate, with bright punch flavors reminiscent of what you get with your plate lunch. The rest deliver the essence of our favorite canned juices with an added 5% alcohol.
Available in variety cases of 12 cans and six packs of fruit punch-only at various stores. konabrewingco.com
Maui Hard Seltzer
photo: courtesy of maui brewing co.
Maui Brewing Co.’s no sugar, 100-calorie entries into this trendy market emerged in the fall as an only-in-Hawaiʻi offering. And we’re glad to have them. Six packs of POG came first—the acronym title reaffirming its localness—followed by dragon fruit and citrus. Each offers a sweet, fizzy sip with just enough flavor so it doesn’t taste like a watered-down fountain drink you left in the sun. Aside from the less than 1 gram of carbs, we appreciate that the simple but colorful cans of hard seltzer are crafted and canned in Kīhei. Watch for the Mainland debut this summer so you can share in an Island-style happy hour with your friends still staying at home across the ocean.
Available in six packs at various stores. mauihardseltzer.com
Ola Brew Co.
photo: Christi young
Kailua-Kona’s Ola Brew is so proudly local that it lists the fact that its ingredients are Hawaiʻi-grown in multiple places on cans of its hard seltzer. Like the ginger? It comes from Moloaʻa Organicaʻa on Kauaʻi. A fan of the lemon grass? Thank Evonuk Farms on Maui and the Big Island’s HIP Agriculture. Ola Brew’s seltzer was the first we tried way back in the day when we still were working in the office. So, it was an excuse to open a few cans of the 4.8% alcohol drinks at lunch for a taste test. We loved the brightness of the lemongrass and slight zing of ginger, but the lemon lime left us without either flavor profile. Still, for the new kid on the block—Ola Brew Co. celebrated its second anniversary in February—we love seeing whatever comes next.
Six packs available at various locations. olabrewco.com
So, which one was our favorite? Watch for the results in our Best of HONOLULU issue on newsstands and in mailboxes in late June.