Kaua`i may be the smallest of the main Hawaiian Islands, but it has no shortage of locally brewed beer, mead, and rum. On the east side you will find the Nani Moon Meadery, where tropical flavors come together with sweet honey to create lovely honey wine as the state’s only producer of mean. Over in Lihue, at the historic Kilohana Plantation lies the tasting room of Koloa Rum, made with local cane sugar which was in itself a staple for an important part of the island’s history. And out in the wild west in historic Waimea Town, it’s only fitting that a local brew pub serves up a variety of great beers.
Located in the Yasude Center in Kapa`a at 4-939 D Kuhio Highway, the Nani Moon Meadery is open from 12 to 5 p.m.from Tuesday through Saturday. They offer an opportunity to enjoy and taste the island flavors transformed into a honey wine. Made with local ingredients, the tasty honey wine is produced, bottled and sold on site at the tasting room. Try the cacao moon mead, made with macadamia nut blossom honey and Kaua’i cacao. Come in to try ginger spice, winter sun, pineapple guava sunset, and laka’s nectar. Check out www.nanimoonmead.com for more information.
The last watering hole before Polihale (and the first headed back into town) on the west side is the Waimea Brewery located at 9400 Kaumualii Highway. Making a home on the grounds of Waimea Plantation Cottages, they brew an array of beer on site and serves good food with a local twist. A plantation-style structure is home to the brewery, which means high ceilings, good air flow, hardwood floors, and fans offer a breezy cool environment. The brewery offers a spectrum of beers which can only be found here and they don’t offer growlers. From the Wai’ale’ale golden ale to the Pakala porter, you can try a full glass or the sampler. Live music can be found on most nights, and seating is available at the indoor bar or outside on the lanai.
In Lihue on the Kilohana Plantation is the tasting room for Koloa Rum. Kauai’s cane thrives in the rich volcanic red soil and Koloa Rum uses Kauai can sugar to craft their single-batch Hawaiian Rum.
They stake claim to being the first and only licensed distillery on the Garden Island where sugar production built a society and sustained the island while making history. They make Kaua`i White, Gold, Dark and Spice Rum that can be tasted and purchased at the tasting room with or without browsing around Kilohana Plantation.
At the tasting room you’ll find:
-Kaua`i White Rum winner of the 2010 Bronze Medal at the 5th Annual International Rum Festival. They describe it as “dry and crisp with hints of oak, licorice and toasted sugars. Clean and inviting, with a fruity pineapple finish.” And I agree it’s darn good.
-Kaua`i Gold Rum winner of the 2010 Silver Medal at the 5th Annual International Rum Festival. Koloa Rum describes it as “vivid golden oak in appearance, with hints of molasses, candied apple and vanilla on the nose. Slightly sweet, with a burnt sugar and candied lemon finish.”
-Kaua`i Dark Rum, winner of 2011 Gold Medal Best in Class, Miami Rum Renaissance Festival
– 2011 Gold Medal, Miami Rum Renaissance Festival
– 2010 Gold Medal, Miami Rum Renaissance Festival
– 2010 Silver Medal, 5 th Annual International Rum Festival
Describes as “rich coffee and molasses hues in the glass, with coffee and brown sugar on the nose. Notes of vanilla, cotton candy, roasted nuts, caramel apple and burnt orange peel. A long finish, with plenty of wood and toast.”
-Kaua`i Spice Rum winner of 2011 Bronze Medal at the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival. Tast it and you’ll find it to be “golden wheat in color, with hints of spice cake on the nose. Extremely well-balanced with a hint of caramel and vanilla and a long, smooth finish.”