When traveling the United States, there’s a wide array of unique food and drinks indigenous to certain areas. Everyone knows about the notable ones like Seattle’s coffee, New England’s clam chowder and Philadelphia’s cheesesteaks but plenty of other local tastes often fly under the radar to those who live outside of a specific area – one of those local favorites is a Hawaiian drink called POG. Created by a Maui dairy consultant almost 50 years ago, POG gets its name from the blend of three juices that make up the refreshing beverage: passion fruit, orange, guava. And for one comedian, POG is a taste, and a reminder, of home.
Jonah Ray, star of Netflix’s Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return and Comedy Central’s The Meltdown With Jonah and Kumail grew up on the Hawaiian islands and loved the drink, so when it came time to create a collaboration beer with the folks at Stone Brewing Company, the 37-year-old writer and actor knew exactly what flavor he wanted to invoke in the brew. The result was Notorious P.O.G., a limited release berliner weisse brewed heavily with the three POG juices. It’s 4.7 percent alcohol by volume and a seven on the International Bitterness Units scale, all while combining a tart and refreshing taste, which can be complex for a robust tropical inspired beer of this caliber.
At first, Notorious P.O.G. was only released in hyper-small batches at the brewery’s 10-barrel Liberty Station Brewhouse in San Diego, however it continued to gain momentum and earn a cult-like following – so much so, Stone recently announced it would soon roll out the beer nationally. It’s not the first beer Stone has concocted with a Hollywood celeb. Back in 2013, the company teamed up with Ray’s friend Wil Wheaton and Fark.com creator Drew Curtis to create W00TSTOUT, a Star Wars inspired, 13.0 percent ABV, bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout. It never saw a national release however, despite remaining a favorite among the company’s fans.
But Stone didn’t just take Ray’s POG idea, slap his name on the website and that was it.
“My wife, Deanna, and I caught the train down to Stone Brewing’s Liberty Station Brewery in San Diego and pretty much did EVERYTHING,” Ray said in a recent interview with Honolulu Magazine. “It was a sweaty and backbreaking process and so much fun. As we started putting everything in I was there every step of the way to make sure it was gonna taste right.”
It’s clear that Ray put a lot of love and sweat into this beer, not surprising given the amount of effort he puts into all of his many endeavors. The MST3K star likens Notorious P.O.G. to a beer mimosa and while the idea of a fruity morning beer might not be enticing to many, if anyone can pull it off, it’s Stone. With summer beginning to wind down, it’s probably best to give this one a try before it cools down and pumpkin beers take over. It should be on beer store shelves very soon – if it’s not already.