Beer aficionados and foodies from around the world will gather Saturday on the shores of Kamakahonu Bay at the Luau Grounds of the King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel for the 25th annual Kona Brewers Festival.
Hawaii Island’s best chefs and the most innovative craft brewers from across the Hawaiian Islands and mainland will gather in the spirit of collaboration through food, fun, art, and our vibrant island community.
The fundraising beer festival is known for featuring the newest creations by 36 chefs and 36 brewers with live music and entertainment. The festival is unique in featuring a culinary experience with craft beer styles that are often unavailable in Hawaii.
Presented by The Ke Kai Ala Foundation, the Kona Brewers Festival raises funds for 28 Hawaii Island programs, working for the environment, culture and youth. Financial gifts from festival proceeds are made to selected non-profit programs, who in turn staff the festival each year. In celebration of the festival’s 25th anniversary, founding sponsor Kona Brewing Co. will donate $75,000 to the Ke Kai Ala Foundation.
A special check presentation will take place to honor Kona Brew’s generosity and commitment to supporting our local island community.
The inaugural festival was held on the brewery’s first birthday, raising $5,000 for Recycle Hawaii. Over the years, the festival has raised more than $1,300,000 for local nonprofits.
Of those funds, $120,000 has went for youth culinary programs to ensure the next generation of chefs have the tools, skills, and education needed to succeed, $150,000 for protecting and raising awareness of our ocean, $170,000 for families who need help during natural disasters, $216,000 for public school gardens, $260,000 for environmental education initiatives and $390,000 for arts &culture projects.
“Kona Brewfest happens in four hours, but the essential work done by our beneficiaries happens throughout the year,” said festival Executive Director Kate Jacobson. “We are honored to support them.”
The festival has been held every year at the hotel’s luau grounds, except in 2011 when a tsunami decimated the bay and part of the newly renovated hotel.
“We had about 24 hours to move the festival,” said Jacobson.
But, as they say, the show must go on.
“The community really stepped up to make it happen,” she recalled. Restaurants offered their kitchens to make the food and the festival was held in the parking lot of Kona Brewing Co., spilling over into Brewer’s Block.
“It made my heart feel so big,” she said. “It showed our resilience. And that’s what we are all about.”
Jacobson said Ke Kai Ala is on a mission to get local nonprofits to network.
“Part of our ethos is getting nonprofits to work together and collaborate,” she said. “Sharing information makes us all more viable and healthy.”
In that spirit, all of the compostables from the festival will be going to school gardens, renewing their commitment to sustainable island life. With over 3,000 people in attendance, last year less than 23 garbage bags went to the landfill.
Celebrating the sustainable theme, the signature Trash Fashion Show is a must-see for attendees. The high-energy variety show features island artists in their fashion creations constructed 100% from local waste.
The festival is nearly sold out. Remaining tickets can be purchased online only at www.konabrewersfestival.com.
General admission from 3 to 7 p.m. is $85. Admission to the Connoisseurs Lounge from 2 to 4 p.m. is $185. The upgraded tickets include all general admission amenities plus admission to the festival and the Connoisseur’s Lounge.
“It’s island style,” said Jacobson. “We work hard and have fun.”