Akaka Falls, Big Island, Hawaii
I don't think I've disguised my deep and abiding love for all things New and Belgium when it comes to beer. I recently fell all over a coriander and bitter orange peel laced summer quaff called Mothership Wit Beer (New Belgium's first organic beer) and I do highly recommend that one as well, but I've got a bead on a fascinating new hot weather beer. Kona Brewing Company -- the self-same outfit that introduced my confused system to the awesomeness of coffee and beer -- has a new summer sipper out.
Wailua Wheat, coolly saronged by a bright, tropical label, is named for Wailua Falls on Maui's famed Hana Highway and brewed with tropical passion fruit. Or, if you're from the islands "lilikoi." Now, I'm not a fruit beer lover. I freely admit that I did the raspberry-blueberry-cherry beer thing in college, and they're probably the reason why the mere idea of fruit beers chokes my throat and offends my tongue. However, this is not what I would call a fruit beer. At least, not in the Boston definition of fruit beers.
The tart passion fruit in Wailua Wheat is neither sweet nor cloying, and its twangy edge matches as well with the crisp and hoppy wheat beer as a wedge of lemon in a cloudy pull of Hefeweizen. It's the heat and throb of the tropics crashing up against the centuries-old tradition of brewing and when the tide ebbs out, you're left with this icy bottle of exotic sunshine.
From the brewers themselves:
Wailua Wheat is an excellent beer to enjoy after a day on the water or at the beach (or even after mowing the lawn or playing softball in your "pau hana" summer league!). It typically pairs well with lighter fare like grilled fish and shrimp, roasted chicken, salads and Asian foods. Perhaps even a dish of vanilla ice cream.
I think I'll leave the vanilla ice cream for my Pipeline Porter, but I'm on board with the grilled shrimp idea. In fact, marinate the shrimp in this beer before grilling and see what happens.
You can find Wailua Wheat at BevMo.