Monday, May 11, 2009

Light My Fire

Tonight's selection is Fire Rock Pale Ale from Kona Brewing Company. The brewery's mainland bottles and kegs used to be brewed exclusively in Portland, Oregon by Widmer Brothers, but now through the Craft Brewers Alliance they are able to brew the Kona beers for the East Coast on the East Coast, via Redhook's Portsmouth, New Hampshire facility. I'm always a bit hesitant when it comes to contract or special agreement brews, at least until I find out a bit more about the setup. In this case, I was pleasantly surprised with what Kona has to say about the agreement, or at the very least the spinners in their marketing department did their job. From the Kona website:

Recipes and beer specifications are dictated by Kona Brewing Company's brewmaster, who oversees each of Kona Brewing Company's partner breweries as the beer is brewed and packaged. The beer brewed at Kona Brewing Company's partner breweries utilizes Kona's hops, malt and proprietary yeast. The water mineral levels at each brewery are adjusted to replicate the water used in Hawaii. A sample of each batch of beer is sent to the Kailua-Kona brewery for sensory evaluation. The brewmaster and quality assurance employees are in daily contact with mainland partner breweries.

Kona Brewing Company recognizes the importance of crafting its tasty ales and lagers close to their markets. By brewing the beer close to distribution markets, Kona Brewing Company ensures beer drinkers are receiving the freshest beer. This also enables Kona Brewing Company to minimize its carbon footprint, expending limited resources to deliver quality beer.

Now, onto the beer: it's got a copper color to it that's a bit light overall but nothing out of the ordinary for a Pale Ale. The aroma is a basic but somewhat beefy blend of caramel and bread, with slight hints of grassy hops mixed in.

The flavor takes it a step further by amping up the bread notes a bit, along with the grassy hops, but also incorporating some floral notes as well that bring a different dimension of sweetness and flavor by giving this one some perfume characteristics. Caramel is still here but dulled a bit in favor of the previously mentioned qualities. The finish is smooth with a nice biscuit vibe that still has that touch of sweetness to it.

I've sampled a few of the other Kona styles in the past and this one is far and away my favorite of the group that I have tried. Again, it is fairly simple but still packs a nice flavorful punch while being easy to drink at the same time. I can't say that the Fire Rock will wow you, but it's a solid beer all around.