I’ve had a love/hate relationship with coconut in the past. When I was lost in the middle of the jungle in the Dominican Republic, and out of water, I absolutely loved the coconuts I was able to crack open for milk. On just about everything else—cake, candy bars, Girl Scout cookies—you can keep the coconut, thank you.
So I opened the first Koko Brown with a bit of trepidation. I mean, coconut is there on the label, in the title. There’s no getting around it. Coconut.
The beer pours a rich mahogany with a pale, thin head. On the nose, it smells like nuts and toast, and there are no surprises when it comes to taking a sip: The coconut is there on the forefront and sticks around well after you’re done with the drink. But that’s not to say coconut dominates the beer. It’s omnipresent, but it’s not annoying. It’s a compliment to the beer, not the main attraction, and for that, I applaud Kona Brewing for showing the restraint necessary to not go whole nut. Because this is a good brown ale with everything you’d want from that style: smooth, malty, easy drinking, but with the added bonus of a hit of coconut.
Koko is part of Kona’s seasonal Aloha series (along with Wailua Ale and Pipeline Porter), and I appreciate Kona releasing this coconut brown in the dead of winter, which is exactly when many of us need a shot of island flavor.
Oh, and Kona turns 20 this year. Happy birthday, Kona.
Brewery: Kona Brewing
City: Kailua-Kona, Hawaii (with bottling breweries in Portland, Woodinville, and New Hampshire)
Style: Nut Brown Ale
ABV: 5.5 percent.
Availability: Winter and spring