A first-time collaboration beer between three pioneering American craft breweries that are part of Craft Brew Alliance will be tapped at the 21st Annual Kona Brewers Festival on March 12. New England cranberries, North Carolina honey, and Hawaiian cacao come together in Konambisco Amber Ale, which was inspired when the craft brewers behind Kona Brewing Co. of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, Appalachian Mountain Brewery of Boone, North Carolina, and Cisco Brewers of Nantucket, Massachusetts, came up with the idea to collaborate on a beer that celebrates the extraordinary places each brewery calls home.
As Hawaii’s largest and longest-running craft brewery, Kona Brewing joined CBA in 2010 and has flourished in today’s competitive craft beer industry, becoming a top 10 national craft beer brand. Appalachian Mountain Brewery, the first craft brewery in Boone, and Cisco Brewers, the first and only craft brewery on Nantucket Island, both entered strategic partnerships with CBA in 2015 to help them build stronger brands in their home markets. As part of CBA, the three breweries had the opportunity to meet, and after discovering how much they shared in common, they set out to brew a beer together.
“This is Kona’s first-ever collaboration, and it’s pretty special to work with two breweries from the east coast, not to mention another island brewery. While we’re literally from opposite sides of the U.S., our deep connection to our homes and our local communities is something we share,” says Sandi Shriver, brewery operations manager, Kona Brewing Co.
“At AMB, the Appalachian Mountains are more than just the backdrop to our brewery, they are part of who we are,” adds Nate Kelischek, brewmaster and director of brewery operations, Appalachian Mountain Brewery. “What makes this collaboration special is that each of our breweries is part of an amazing and beautiful place, and we have drawn inspiration from those very different places to create something that connects us together.”
“We first met the crew from Appalachian Mountain Brewery last year, and we both knew we wanted to do a collaboration together,” says Jay Harman, chief executive officer, Cisco Brewers. “When the opportunity arose to brew with the team at Kona Brewing, let alone do it in a place like Hawaii, there was no chance we were going to turn that down.”
As part of CBA’s strategy to expand its unique portfolio of brands, which includes heritage pioneers of the craft beer movement along with innovative category leaders and emerging brands, the company looks for partnership opportunities to share its resources and expertise with unique brands that have strong local connections. While CBA’s individual brands have collaborated with breweries outside of CBA, Konambisco represents the first collaboration among breweries within the CBA portfolio.
“As we welcome new members to the CBA family, it’s exciting to see our partners’ enthusiasm to learn and grow from each other,” says Karmen Olson, senior Manager, emerging business, CBA. “And what better way to get to know each other than a family brewing vacation in Hawaii.”
Konambisco is an artfully blended, balanced amber ale. New England cranberries add brightness and a mild tartness while the North Carolina honey imparts a floral complexity and sweetness. Hawaii-grown cacao is added to enhance chocolate notes, balancing the cranberry and bringing out the roasted goodness of the chocolate malts. Konambisco will be unveiled at the Kona Brewers Fest in Hawaii on March 12, and will be available for a limited time on draft at Kona Brewing Co.’s two pubs.