Hawai’i is known for snorkeling, active (and dormant) volcanoes, and different colored beaches, but now a new type of attraction is slowly gaining attention. Distillers like 12th Hawaii Distiller and brewers like Kona Brewing Co. are opening their doors and creating a fantastic place for locals and travelers to hang out and have a good drink. Rum and craft beer tastings are becoming a fun alternative excursion.
Next time you’re on the big island, make sure to check out some of the places on this list with a drinking buddy. Want to get to know the island from a local’s perspective? This is the perfect way to do it! Drinking isn’t the only thing in store either, as several of these places have excellent food as well. Whether it’s a spirit or craft beer, these places are a fun way to enjoy yourself while on vacation.
Kuleana Rum Works
Kuleana means responsibility in Hawaiian, and this distillery’s mission is to share its knowledge with future rum makers. Located in the Queen’s Marketplace in Puako, Kuleana Rum Works was created in 2013 and quickly became a major Hawaiian rum player. If you want to learn more about how rum is made, this is a great place to do it over a bite to eat.
Pro tip: You should try out their Vegan Coconut Curry. It can be paired with most craft beers and is delicious!
Kona Brewing Co.
Brewery tours are always cool and checking this out is highly encouraged. Kona Brewing Co. is located in Kailua-Kona and opened 25 years ago. It’s the perfect place to learn more about brewing and its different practices. They have multiple locations throughout the Big Island, but you should visit their original site. Since its opening, it’s become one of the most popular craft beers in the world. Opened by father and son Cameron Healy and Spoon Khalsa, its grown past the islands but still holds on to reflect the spirit and culture of the big island.
Ola Brew Co.
This is a unique place to grab a drink since Ola Brew Co. puts a lot of emphasis on making sure they only use local ingredients in their brews. They’ve been doing this for a long time, and that alone makes them a stop on your distillery tour around the island. Their tangelo cider is one of the best on the island, and they get them from a local farmer who doubles as their performer on select nights. Drinking awesome craft beer and taking in some live music is the perfect way to get to know the vibe of Ola Brew Co. during your vacation.
12th Hawaii Distiller
Distilling spirits don’t have to be one thing; it can be rum, vodka, and whiskey, and 12th Hawaii Distiller specializes in that diversity. What sets them apart is their use of Hawaiian honey. Instead of regular sugar, 12th Hawaii Distiller uses Hawaiian honey in its distilling process, leaving many of its spirits with a signature taste. Don’t worry about the spirits coming out too sweet. The fermentation process removes most of the sweetness. Raise a glass and enjoy a cocktail.
Big Island Brewhaus
Who doesn’t love craft beer? That’s what Big Island Brewhaus specializes in, and heading to their brewery wouldn’t be the wrong way to spend an afternoon. Winning tons of awards since 2013, Big Island Brewhaus is also known for being the highest brewpub at 2,764 feet. Their overboard IPA is a winner and should definitely be tasted when you’re there. They also have some killer food. With a good assortment of vegetarian and vegan options, it’s a great place to enjoy beer and food together. You can always go right with a brewhouse taco. It’s the perfect mate to their Vivo Italian-styled pilsner.
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