31 Places in Hawai‘i to Try Kona Brewing Co.’s Limited-Edition Beer

Kona Brewing Co. whips up a small batch of Kai Golden Ale which will be available by mid-month.
UPDATE (Aug. 5, 9:47 P.m.): Kona Brewing Co.’s New Kai Golden Ale will be available by mid-month.  
Photo: Courtesy of Kona Brewing Co. 


You may have to forgive a few dedicated craft-beer fans for jostling up to the bar this month. That’s when the latest limited-edition, Hawai‘i-only beer starts flowing at 31 select pubs, bars and restaurants—Kona Brewing Co.’s way of saying thanks for standing by its brand over the past 21 years.


“This series is aimed to give back a little bit,” says brewery manager and brewmaster Ryan McVeigh. Part of the proceeds go to Surfrider Foundation’s Maui chapter, while the draft Kai Golden Ale will only be available for 90 days “as a reward for our most loyal customers, because they’ve been so supportive all along.”


Brewed all in one go in three kettles, the 81-barrel batch continues the company’s Makana Series theme of using Island ingredients. Kai Golden Ale is made with Kona deep-ocean water from 3,000-foot depths piped up at NELHA (the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai‘i Authority). “It’s one of those cool things,” says McVeigh. “We normally use city water, do a reverse osmosis filtration, add back in minerals; here, we can add the deep-sea water straight after desalination and it has its own unique mineral taste.”


 As a golden ale, the Kai drafts in the wake of the major success of Big Wave Golden Ale, whose sales grew 66 percent in the past year. Often considered entry-level craft beers for drinkers weaned on Anheuser-Busch InBev corporate suds, goldens like Big Wave are raising the bar for the genre.


Kai Golden Ale takes it another step, says McVeigh. “The taste is quite different, bright and crisp, with a lot of banana and clove flavors,” due to a mix of Kona Brewing Co.’s house ale yeast and a traditional German Hefeweizen yeast. The latter usually produces a cloudy, unfiltered appearance, but the Kai is in a Kristalweizen style, “unique in that they are the only wheat beer that is filtered,” wrote Sandi Shriver, brewery operations manager, in an email.


“With the higher protein content and the less-flocculent Bavarian yeast strain, it took us three days to filter this bad boy!” Shriver added. “We like to use it as a metaphor that the hard work we put into making this beer clear is akin to the effort we make in keeping our ocean waters clear. A big cheer to the Surfrider Foundation!”


The first Makana Series beer was ‘Aina Brown, made with taro root. The current brew, Wela, uses kiawe-smoked malted barley. (You can taste it alongside Kai Golden Ale if there’s any left at your store.)


A listing of the places where you can order the limited-edition draft beers:


Duke’s Waikīkī

Hula Grill Waikīkī

Tropics Bar & Grill Waikīkī

The Hideaway Bar Waikīkī

Tiki’s Grill & Bar

Yard House

Whole Foods Kāhala

Whole Foods Kailua 

Koko Marina Pub

REAL a gastropub 

BREW’d craftpub

Monkey Pod Kitchen Ko ‘Olina 

Roy’s Ko ‘Olina

Taps and Apps

Breakers Restaurant and Bar



Honu Pool Bar & Grill 

Keoki’s Paradise 


Big Island 

Humpy’s Big Island Alehouse

Kona Pub and Brewery 

Lava Lava Beach Club 



Honu Seafood & Pizza

Paradise Grill 

Leilani’s On the Beach 

Mala Wailea 

Merriman’s Kapalua 

Kapalua Wine and Food Fest

Moose’s Pub & Cafe Kīhei 

Monkey Pod Kitchen Wailea 

Rock & Brews

Pi Artisan Pizzeria 



Pele’s Other Garden Deli 


To learn more go to konabrewingco.com