Kona Brewing Company’s ‘Longboard Island Lager’ – The Review

As y’all know, I like to mix up these posts from time to time. I know I love my hoppy beers, but it wouldn’t do to solely review them, would it? One thing I occasionally try is a lager, if I see something interesting enough, and today I’ll be reviewing one of those. Kona Brewing Company‘s ‘Longboard Island Lager’ certainly is an interesting find when you see it on the shelf, not just the label but the bottle too – vibrant paper on brown glass with raised lettering. I’ve also had some nice beers from a Hawaiian place called Maui Brewing Company, so, y’know, I was curious to see how this’d stack up.

It’s a pretty standard lager in terms of brewing, so far as I can make out, though it is aged for a few weeks (at cold temperatures, of course). It was nice to read that about the lager because that immediately sets it apart from the any old (well, young…) mass-produced stuff you can get that’ll give you a headache. All that being said, I was spending a chilled summer evening in front of the box and thought, “All that’s missing is a beer.” I was in the mood for something light, so picked this and now I’m gonna review it.

Vital Stats:

Look It’s a very cute label. My camera wasn’t working at the time, but you can see it by clicking here. It reminds me of an advert from the 50s or 60s, a vibrant beach scene cut out in the shape of cliffs. Of course, it depicts plenty of ‘longboards’ (a more traditional surfboard as I understand it) and there’s plenty of spiel about how ‘this brew pays tribute to a grand history’. It’s all very cheesy, but it doesn’t affect the flavour of the beer at least.

In the glass it’s a lovely pale straw colour with a very spirited fizz. The head’s quite loose, but there’s plenty of it and decent retention. 7/10

Aroma Yeah it’s quite nice actually, surprisingly so. A pleasant, sweet maltiness mixes with relatively expressive floral hops. It’s nowhere near as strong as others I’ve had (can’t for the life of me remember what I had this one time, a lager from somewhere in the Lake District, though not Hawkshead… It was so powerful), but far from insipid and you can definitely pick out those American hop varieties. 7/10

Taste Simply put, this doesn’t live up to the aroma. There’s a nice, refreshing, medium-creamy maltiness, and though the hops don’t have much depth of flavour, they do have a long finish. Certainly I’d say the expressiveness is surprising for such a lager, but to me it somehow tastes reserved, like they didn’t want to offend anybody with too much taste. I think the malts especially could be more adventurous. What they end up with is a nice, but not entirely confident or independent beverage (a bit too ‘samey’ in other words). 6/10

Value I payed the best part of £3 for a bottle of Longboard Island Lager. In short, when you consider the alcoholic strength and strength of flavour, it was too much. Having said that, I was genuinely surprised, and I mean in a very pleasant way, how complex the flavours were, probably owing to their use of four different hops. It wasn’t a bad experience, but a tad overpriced for me. 6/10

Session These fare pretty well on a session, if you don’t take price into account. The flavours are mid-strength so they never add up to too much, and the carbonation (which in fact may be too much for some) makes for a very refreshing beverage. Don’t chill it down too much, or you’ll not be able to taste all the complexities, but sure, it’d go down nice at a barbecue, beach bonanza or something else beginning with ‘b’, without getting you steaming. 6/10

All in all, this is the story of a lager with a great deal of potential that was too scared to go all-out and show us something truly fantastic. Good for a lager, definitely. I’d recommend any lager drinker try it (not too cold, remember), educate your palate a little on the hop varieties, but for the more seasoned ale drinker, it probably ain’t got enough taste bud tickle to interest you.

Final score: 64/100

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