New Lihue Brewery Keeps It Fresh

Beer, like wine, chocolate and cheese, is teeming with life. Fermented food and beverages are highly nutritious and easily digestible. In many cases, the magic of fermentation generates additional nutrients while removing toxins. But these microbial nutrients are killed in most commercial beers because they have been pasteurized.

Kaua’i Beer Company (KBC), a new craft brewery in Lihue, makes fresh beer and sells it to restaurants and bars including The Feral Pig and Nawiliwili Tavern. At KBC brewery, you can fill a half-gallon growler ($30) for $15. The stainless steel container with an airtight stopper is a convenient way to bring home beer and it eliminates landfill waste.

“Growlers are an old idea from pre-Prohibition,” says KBC owner Jim Guerber. “Families sent their children to pick up a bucket of beer. On the way home, the beer sloshed and the lid moved, sounding like it was growling.”

In keeping with tradition, the Bavarian Purity Law known as Reinheitsgebot inspires Guerber, his son Justin, Nate Yahnke and Eric Burda. In the 1516 text, the only ingredients that could be used to make beer were water, barley and hops. Wild yeast settled into the infusion known as wort, and fermentation began. When brewers transferred solids to begin a new batch, they didn’t know yeast also was coming along.

In the 1800s, Louis Pasteur discovered the role of microorganisms in the process of fermentation. The newer Provisional German Beer Law allows yeast as an ingredient, as well as wheat malt and cane sugar. These laws keep beer pure, and Kaua’i Beer Company is champion of this Bavarian philosophy by only using water, barley, hops and yeast in it craft beer.

The Brewers Association defines an American craft brewer as small, independent and traditional. The hallmark of craft beer and craft brewers is innovation. Craft brewers interpret historic styles with unique twists and develop new styles that have no precedent.

Kaua’i Beer Company offers Lihue Lager and Black Limousine. I got to try them Aug. 10, when The Feral Pig tapped the first-ever two kegs to come out of KBC. You can drink both of these beers all day long because they’re what Jim and his team call “Session Beer.”

“Session Beer is a term used for a beer that you can drink and continue drinking, and not feel like you’ve been hammered the next day,” says Justin Guerber. “You can put a few back at the beach or after work, and our beer has good flavor so you can enjoy it.”

At 4.5 percent AVB (alcohol by volume), Black Limousine is a contradiction in appearance and taste. The dark-brown beer looks like a heavy Guinness Stout, but it’s light bodied. After my first sip, I taste chocolate, but the flavors are complex and others have said they taste toffee, caramel and coffee.

“When we first started, Dave (Power) said, ‘I have your Black Limo, but I need a light lager,'” says Jim Guerber. “So that’s why we make Lihue Lager.”

The light beer has a crisp, refreshing flavor. At 4.4-percent AVB, the beer is the light side of medium body with pale straw color, a clean finish and faint hop aroma.

“We’ve all been waiting for a really good, locally made lager to replace that Bud Light handle for a long time,” says Power, co-owner and bartender of The Feral Pig.

Kaua’i Beer Company is brewing an Oktoberfest beer for The Feral Pig. In late September, Power will feature KBC’s beer (along with many others) during a German-inspired dinner to celebrate the annual festival held in Munich, Germany.

Kaua’i Beer Company 4265 Rice St., Lihue 742-7207

Lane is a Kaua’i-based food writer. For more information, visit TastingKauai.com.

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