Big Island Brewhaus
Tom Kerns, owner of Big Island Brewhaus, sits across from me at a picnic table on the bar’s lanai. His wife, Jayne, and their cook, Dan Leishman, sit on either side of him. Inside, boisterous conversation punctuated by laughter pour from customers who drink Tom’s award-winning craft beer and nibble on a large variety of pupus, some made with locally grown produce.
“I don’t like a giant amount of food all at once,” says Tom about the new small-plate additions to the brewery’s lengthy menu. “It’s fun to peruse the menu and get different flavors, just like with our beer.”
In 2008, the Kerns bought, Taco Taco, a restaurant in Waima on Hawaii Island, with the dream of turning it into a brewpub. Permitting came through in 2011, and the couple began bottling their unfiltered and unpasteurized beer in 2013. Tom began brewing more than 20 years ago in Oregon and after he helped open Maui Brewing Company, his recipes were perfected. Up to 13 beers are available on tap, and it’s all brewed onsite.
A hoppy smell and gulping sounds fill the fermentation room. Ten barrels, with names such as John, George, Paul and Ringo, are in different stages of fermentation. Some produce single batches and others, triple. “Chewy” burps CO2 as the yeast metabolizes sugar, and over the course of six weeks, converts the liquid into Graham’s Pilsner, a hop-forward malt-flavored brew.
Dan and I can’t decide which beer to try, so we each order a sampler ($7) of five 3.5-ounce beers. We each get something different so we can try them all. By the end, I’m in love with White Mountain Porter, made with all natural toasted coconut and Hamakua Coast White Mountain Coffee. Dan prefers Golden Sabbath a strong golden ale made with Hawaiian honey, which won the 2014 World Beer Cup Bronze Award. Lucky for us, we can buy both of them at Foodland and Safeway in Kapaa.
As I drink my beer, I pop Kung Pao Macadamia Nuts ($6) into my mouth. Dan Leishman tosses macadamia nuts, that were grown a few miles away, in shoyu, garlic, ginger, local honey, sugar, black pepper, chile de arbol, and Sriracha, then slow roasts them for up to ninety minutes. I can’t stop eating them, along with a bunch of locally sourced small plates (see slideshow). If this pub were on Kauai, we’d be eating there every night!
“We wanted to be local and fresh, and have handcrafted food that matched the beer,” says Jayne. “That’s why we don’t ship our beer to the mainland. Beer is better when it’s fresh. We believe our beer is better at the source, and the same thing goes for the food.”
Big Island Brewhaus is available in all the grocery and liquor stores across the state, as well as many restaurants.
Big Island Brewhaus
64-1066 Mamalahoa Hwy, Kamuela, HI
Open Sunday, noon to 8 p.m.
Monday – Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
This is post five of seven of our Big Island trip. For more information, read “Big Island Bounty Tour.”
Images copyright Daniel Lane/Pono Photo. For more information, visit www.PonoPhoto.com.