Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Gone to Maui: Savoring Some Great Beers

By William Brand
Monday, March 19th, 2007 at 7:55 pm in Uncategorized.

HI ALL. this site is acting hinky today. To see the photos, go to my other blog: What’s On Tap: The California Beer Blog. Sorry for the problem.

Maui beach
Don’t you love this tourist shot of a beac on Maui. It’s nowhere near Maui Brewing Co., but it sure is pretty. You can find the orginal at: http://www.visitmaui.com/

Regular readers of my blogs may wonder where I’ve been. I haven’t posted anything in more than a week.

There’s an easy answer: I’ve gone to Maui with my family for a brief vacation. First thing I did, of course, was check for beer. The first two guidebooks I looked at said there was one brewpub, Maui Brewing and they dumped on it.

The guides are dead wrong. If you like beer, Maui Brewing is the best stop on the island. Period. It’s easy to find, in a corner of a strip mall on Highway 30 on the way to West Maui. It’s right next to Outback Steaks. Not a promising location. After a couple of days wandering through grocery stores, which feature a good stock of mostly light lagers plus the usual imports, much like the mainland, and reading those guidebooks, I wasn’t expecting much.

Well, I was blown away. This is a spectacular brewpub with outstanding beer and excellent food.

maui-brewing-tom-kerns-garrett-marrero.jpg

Brewer Tom Kerns and Maui Brewing owner Garrett

Marrero in their brewery weariung their GABF Medals.

Below: the lineup of Maui Brewing canned beers: This

week only the IPA was available. maui-brewing-co-cans.jpg

The manager and assistant brewer Dave Cunningham explained Maui Brewing’s been through several manifestations since it opened 12 years ago. It had Fish & Game in its name for a while, and Rotisserie for a while. But a couple of years ago, a new owner, Garrett Marrero, took over and with head brewer Tom Kerns changed everything.

Kerns beers have won medals at both the World Beer Cup and the Great American Beer Festival in the last two years, including a gold for Coconut Porter last year at the GABF. There are big things ahead; they’re opening a new 20 barrel brew plant down the road, have a canning line in operation. The first three beers to be canned are: Bikini Blonde Lager, Big Swell IPA and Coconut Porter.

The top part of the beer list is light lager land, which one expects in the tropics – although with its constant trade winds and moderate temperatures, it’s hard for me – a onetime resident of coastal Mexico – to think of this as truly tropical. It is in fact: Paraiso tropical.

Anyway, back at the beer list, beyond Bikini Blonde Lager, Honolua Lager and Primo Pilsner, things get interesting indeed.

Over two hours I tasted six splendid beers and one, not-yet-released Coconut Porter aged for the last 100 days in a rum barrel.

The food matched the beer, I ordered French onion soup and Caesar salad, my wife ordered ribs, which were served in a spicy, beer-based sauce. (I’m going back and see if I can get the recipe, it was that good). My daughter and friend, split a plate of a calamari. Another friend had a thick, meaty hamburger with fries and once he got over the sticker shock – $14, this IS Hawaii – said it was excellent.

You have to expect to be somewhat gouged on this tourist island 2,100 ocean miles and three time zones west-southwest of the Bay Area.

So, here’s what I tasted:

Maui Pale Ale ***+. Creamy head, huge hop aroma. Taste is malty with big hoppy hit in the follow, aromatic hops, not bitter. Bittering hops faintly citrusy Galena, finishing, citrusy, piney Cascades, 5.7 percent ABV, 40 Internmational Bitterness Units. I loved this beer.

Double Overhead IPA****. Basically the same hop, malt bill as the Maui, just more malt, more hops. 8 percent ABV, guessing the IBUs around 60 or 70. Intense hop aroma, but restrained bitterness. Great hop-malt balance: Silky malt, aromatic hops.

Belgian Abbey Ale ***, 9.5% ABV, Silver Medal winner at the 2005 GABF in the Belgian-style, strong, speciality ale category. Served in a stemmed chalice.Big, spicy nose. Tastes of raisins and spice, leaves a tang of licorice and dark malt on the tongue. Malts,include Belgian Dark Crystal or Special B malt, which adds a rich, malt aroma and caramel and raisin taste.

Penquin Imperial Stout ***, 8 percent ABV, an opague, dark brown. Chocolate malt and licorice nose, nice balance. Licorice, ripe fruit. Intense.

Red Cock of the Walk Doppel Bock ***+ winner of the 2006 World Beer Cup Bronze in German-style strong bocks. Dark brown with reddish hues, great dark malt aroma. Sweet with lots of hops in the folo. Named after the “jungle fowl”, the wild chickens that populate the islands.

Coconut Porter***, 5.5% ABV,m 32 IBU, Gold Medal, 2006 World Beer Cup, Herb and Spice category. Spiced with dried coconut. An opague, black beer, with a sweet nose of coconut and roast malt. Carries through in the taste, crisp, gently hoppy follow. An island treat.

Black Pearl***+. This is an amazing, barrel aged beer. It’s Coconut Porter aged 100 days in a rum barrel from a local rum-maker. It’s a ramped up, 7 percent, Coconut Porter. It’s not finished yet, when it is, it’ll be served in a stemmed glass for $8. Thick, rocky head of tan foam and a real pirate nose: Rum! Taste is sweet, fading to dry with the taste of rum lingering on the tongue. Powerful, damned unusual.

Definitely a digestif. To be savored after a fine meal. I quit smoking years ago, thank God. But this is a beer that almost demands a cigar or some kind of rich chocolate desert. I’d love to have a jug of this one in my beer refrig back home.

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