If you’re someone who likes their beer to taste like, well, plain old beer, then this one isn’t for you. But if you like to liven things up in the summer months, Hala Kahiki may be your vacation brew.
Hala Kahiki, pronounced hah-lah-kah-hee-kee, is the Hawaiian word for pineapple. It’s a fruit ale that isn’t hiding the harvest. The pineapple is front and center; there’s no hoppy bitterness to disguise its sweet flavor.
Christian Fyke and family bought the Rivertowne Inn in Verona and opened up its first pub there in 2002 and another in North Huntingdon in 2005. But pouring another company’s brews wasn’t enough to satisfy their passion for beer. By 2007, they began brewing at their pour house in Monroeville. Rivertowne now serves up beer and drinks at five locations. The brewery and tasting room in Export is an especially good summer hangout with 17 taps, brewery tours, and a front porch perfect for your dogs. There you can even get Hala Kahiki in the form of a slushie or a chapstick.
The first batch of this beer, then called Pineapple Under the Sea, was first brewed at the Rivertowne Pourhouse in 2009, says vice president of sales and marketing Rob Johnson. Rivertowne brewed the first official batch of Hala Kahiki in 2012.
They make it year round, but Hala Kahiki’s true season is the summer. It was made to be sipped on the beach or guzzled by the pool. Heck, drink it from the comfort of your air- conditioned living room. Wherever you are, it’ll taste like sweet summertime.
Michele O’Connor, a West Virginian who runs a blog called “The Beer Mistress,” discovered the pineapple ale at Rivertowne’s North Shore bar and grill just in May.
“I was hooked from the first sip,” O’Connor says. “[Hala Kahiki] is perfect for summer because it’s light, not heavily carbonated and with the hint of pineapple it transports you from your backyard to the islands.”
A draft of Hala Kahiki goes for $5.50 at the North Shore. You can order it in your cocktail, too. The beachy classic, Bay Breeze, becomes a Beer Breeze at Rivertowne and includes Hala Kahiki, coconut rum, and cranberry juice. According to Rivertowne North Shore manager Ashley Queen, Hala Kahiki’s notoriety is often what gets people in the door.
“People that come in who have heard of Rivertowne have heard of Hala Kahiki, so they start there. But if you’re a true IPA drinker, we have six IPAs,” Queen says.
Bartender Craig Newham recommends that Hala Kahiki lovers try the Suburban Housewife next. It’s a blackberry cucumber kolsch with some fruit flavor, but it’s not as sweet as
The Pittsburgh-based pineapple beer has also traveled to a number of states. Erika Parker first fell in love with Hala Kahiki at a bar in Youngstown, Ohio four years ago. She’s been drinking it and recommending it to friends ever since.
“My brother is an IPA guy who never likes fruit beers and he even loves it,” Parker says. “It’s my go-to summer beer.”