Jonah Ray’s Delicious POG-Flavored Beer Just Became Available In Hawai‘i
We talk with the local comedian-actor-writer about plastic slammers, Weird Al lyrics and why Notorious P.O.G. is the perfect summer beer.
PHOTOS: COMEDY CENTRAL, STONE BREWING
You’re probably already familiar with Jonah Ray’s comedic chops from his role on the Netflix show Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return or his hosting gigs on The Nerdist Podcast and Comedy Central’s The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail. Now the Kailua native is showing off his beer-brewing skills with the release of Notorious P.O.G., a limited-release Berliner Weisse he created in collaboration with California brewery Stone Brewing.
Inspired by the POG juice Ray loved while growing up in the Islands, Notorious is brewed with passion fruit, orange (heavy on the orange) and guava—light and wonderfully refreshing, it starts off tart and then mellows nicely. Originally, it was only offered in ultra-small batches but developed such a strong cult following that Stone Brewing decided to release it nationally, landing it on Hawai‘i shelves and bar menus for the first time late July.
HONOLULU Magazine: How did your collaboration with Stone Brewing come about?
Jonah Ray: Well, I was always a fan of Stone beer as well as their independent spirit. My buddy, actor Wil Wheaton, knew this. He had already collaborated with them on the beer Woot Stout. They had started putting together these events during San Diego Comic-Con called Hop-Con where people from the entertainment world would come up with a beer and go down to their brewery and brew it with one of their brewmasters.
HM: How would you describe the flavor profile of Notorious P.O.G.?
JR: The beer is what I would describe as a “breakfast beer” or “beer mimosa”—very light, not too sweet but full of citrus flavor.
HM: How involved were you in the development process?
JR: My wife, Deanna, and I caught the train down to Stone Brewing’s Liberty Station Brewery in San Diego and pretty much did EVERYTHING. It was a sweaty and backbreaking process and so much fun. As we started putting everything in I was there every step of the way to make sure it was gonna taste right.
HM: What made you opt for the Berliner Weisse style of beer?
JR: I like a beer with “drinkability.” Something you could have a couple of and not be knocked on your butt. Berliner Weisse just seemed like the way to keep the light and refreshing flavor of P.O.G. intact within its beer form.
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HM: How long will Notorious P.O.G. be available?
JR: I actually don’t know. It does really seem perfect for summertime. But people really seem to dig it, so I hope it’s around year-round. Actually, at the most recent Hop-Con event, Kris Ketchum (the brewmaster I made it with) made an IPA version which is also VERY tasty. We call it 2-POG and since it’s very hop-forward and at 6.9% ABV I think it’s perfect for early mornings in the winter.
PHOTO: JONAH RAY
HM: How old were you when you got into collecting/playing POGs and how big was your collection? Any favorite caps?
JR: I think it was sixth grade when POGs hit hard. I was going to St. Louis in Kaimukī at the time and remember always wanted the S4U POGs for some reason. Most of my collection was from businesses my dad worked with. Just a ton of really boring Bank of Hawai‘i POGs. But my all-time favorite is probably the old-school vintage POG from an actual POG bottle from back in the day.
HM: Did you have a signature throw?
JR: If I did I wouldn’t have been so terrible at it. Woof, was I bad.
HM: Plastic slammers—fair game or totally cheating?
JR: NO PLASTIC SLAMMERS! If you want a slammer you need to stick a penny inside the POG!
HM: Which local kine grindz do you recommend pairing with Notorious P.O.G.?
JR: It pairs best with a barbecue chicken plate from Rainbows.
HM: Favorite Notorious B.I.G. song?
JR: I celebrate his entire catalogue.
HM: Speaking of songs, … your first music release, You Can’t Call Me Al, drops this month. What can we expect from that record?
JR: Yes, the EP comes out on Aug. 16 on Asian Man Records! It’s run by Mike Park, who put out one of the first local CDs I ever bought in Hawai‘i from the LEGENDARY band THE TANTRA MONSTERS. The songs are essentially punk songs I made using Weird Al lyrics from different parodies and originals of his. Also, one song from my show Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return. Also, it was produced by another local boy: Zac Carper, the front man of FIDLAR! It’s a fun record and some proceeds will go to an animal charity.
HM: Any other fun projects you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for next?
JR: I’m currently writing a pilot for BBC out in London. It’s based a lot on my experiences working at record stores, including Jelly’s in Hawai‘i.
For a full list of Notorious P.O.G.’s Hawai‘i stockists and bar/restaurant availability visit stonebrewing.com