When I received the cans of Kona Brewing‘s Longboard Lager near the end of last month, I thought it would make for a more interesting review to taste and compare the bottled version alongside the canned version. I’ve had Longboard before of course, and it’s a solid, drinkable lager (interestingly, though, not brewed on the Big Island of Hawaii where the brewery itself is located—at least, the packaged versions of Kona that we get on the mainland here aren’t; as members of the Craft Brew Alliance it is contract brewed in Portland).
Generally any time you have a chance to do a side-by-side tasting with a canned and bottled version of the same beer you should try it. The other such tasting I did was with Moose Drool (though I supposed I could always bottles of American macro lager next to the canned versions…) and the overall result seems to be the same that I reach with this Kona beer as well.
Longboard Lager itself is a fairly standard golden lager, 4.6% alcohol by volume, which the brewery describes as such:
Longboard Island Lager is a smooth refreshing lager fermented and aged for five weeks at cold temperatures to yield its exceptionally smooth flavor. A delicate, slightly spicy hop aroma complements the malty body of this beer.
Appearance: Both beers are pale yellow and very clear, but the bottled is a lighter yellow than the canned, which has more gold to it. The canned beer also has more of a head and leaves behind more striking lacing.
Smell: I think the canned beer has a grainier quality in the nose, while the bottled beer is grassier; the bottled has a clean, mineral-y profile. The canned is a bit richer but also clean, with a light toasty aroma.
Taste: The bottled beer is slightly sweet, with a grassy but very clean floral note. It’s crips, refreshing, and it has a bit of Saaz (? or Noble) hop spiciness in the back. The canned is richer with more of a toasted malt character, with hints of caramel. Less of the spicy hop character though.
Mouthfeel: Both are light-bodied and crisp and clean, but the canned beer has a bit more body to it with the caramelly feel.
Overall: A drinkable, clean lager in general, but I like the canned version a bit better: more body, nose, and complexity of flavor (which is what I also found in the Moose Drool). I’m not exactly sure why there’s a pronounced difference in the canned version versus the bottled—perhaps a difference in packaging equipment, or maybe the batches are brewed on different equipment?—but overall you won’t go wrong by choosing the canned version of Longboard.