I had the beer poured and was preparing to take the first sip when the question struck me. Spearhead Hawaiian Style Pale Ale is brewed in Toronto: some distance from Hawaii, I believe. But... what makes it "Hawaiian style"? I'm not aware of any particular local brewing practice that marks the pale ales of Hawaii as distinct from those of anywhere else. Maybe they're just going for a tropical fruit vibe from the hop profile, I thought. But lots of beers do that and no brewer describes them as "Hawaiian style". I had to go to the brewery website and look it up. Turns out, this beer is brewed with actual pineapple. You know, like they do in Hawaii. Or like Hawaiians tell Torontonians they do, because they think it's funny. Anyway, fruited pale ales are something of a rarity, so this should be interesting.
It's a medium orange-amber colour and starts with a wonderful heady aroma which mixes candied mangoes with a more astringent vegetal tang. The hops seem to be missing at first and it starts quite bready, with a viscous, sticky texture showing off every degree of that 6% ABV. It seems like there's no middle, just a pause before the acidic bitterness tramples the palate, but this subsides quickly and is followed by a soothing waft of mandarins and nectarines.
It's a pretty decent pale ale, though nowhere near as odd as the brewer's description makes it out to be. I think if I wanted to inject some Hawaiian sunshine into a beer I made on a cold Ontario morning, I'd do it with Galaxy and Nelson Sauvin.