In the Mix

Kona Brewing introduces new beers at festival

March 10th, 2016
COURTESY KIRK SHORTEThe Kona Brewers Festival returns for the 21st year this weekend.


The Kona Brewers Festival returns for the 21st year this weekend.

Membership has its privileges — and in the beer world, it can lead to intriguing partnerships between like-minded breweries.

As the largest brewery in Hawaii, Kona Brewing Company holds an important role as an ambassador of goodwill and good times for our state via their “Liquid Aloha” marketing campaign and as members of the national Craft Brew Alliance.

It was the CBA connection that led to KBC working with Appalachian Mountain Brewery of North Carolina and Cisco Brewers of Massachusetts to each contribute locally sourced ingredients for a limited edition amber ale. Konambisco includes honey from North Carolina, New England cranberries and Hawaii cacao, and will make its debut Saturday during the 21st annual Kona Brewers Festival.

“It’s pretty special to work with two breweries from the east coast, not to mention another island brewery,” said KBC brewery operations manager Sandi Shriver in a statement. “While we’re literally from opposite sides of the U.S., our deep connection to our homes and our local communities is something we share.”

“What makes this collaboration special is that each of our breweries is part of an amazing and beautiful place,” added Appalachian Mountain brewmaster and director of brewery operations Nate Kelischek. “We have drawn inspiration from those very different places to create something that connects us together.”

Cisco Brewers chief executive officer Jay Harman was equally stoked to be invited to the group brew.

“We first met the crew from Appalachian Mountain Brewery last year, and we both knew we wanted to do a collaboration together,” he said. “When the opportunity arose to brew with the team at Kona Brewing, let alone do it in a place like Hawaii, there was no chance we were going to turn that down.”

The Kona Brewers Festival at the Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel features two sessions for the first time in 2016; the afternoon session (4 to 7 p.m.) is sold out, but $70 tickets remain for an earlier session from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Go to to purchase online. You can also check out "Barfly" in Friday’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser to read more about the festival and three others like it that will take place in Hawaii this year.

Can’t make it to Kona this weekend? You can still get in on the limited edition beer action at KBC’s Hawaii Kai brewpub after kegs of a new beer inspired by POG juice just arrived on Oahu. The I’iwi Session Ale is named after the indigenous Hawaiian bird and features fruity notes on the nose with an “assertive bitterness” and light body for better drinkability.

While KBC fans on Oahu will have to wait a bit longer to see if any Konambisco will make it out from this weekend’s beer festival, the brewery makes up for it by not holding back on the delivery of I’iwi Session Ale. Visit for more info about their entire lineup of beers and previews of future releases.
Jason Genegabus has covered the local entertainment, nightlife, music and bar scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at

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