Do not fear the can. The can is a beer drinker's friend. Especially when the beer is coming all the way from Maui. It protects and helps keep the product inside cool (metal chills faster than glass) and fresh. The folks at Maui Brewing Co. would be foolish to package their product any other way, due to the inherent difficulties in getting it from a tropical environment to North America. And the reason we are doing this post now is that Maui's canned products are starting to show up in more places in North America and are becoming more readily available to craft beer drinkers who have discovered that there are some kick-ass brews being made on the island. We chose to focus on their flagship Coconut Porter, mostly because it represents the Maui vibe. Well, and also because it's a damn good beer. But we'll also talk about a some other beers—collaborations with the likes of Lost Abbey, Dogfish Head and Jolly Pumpkin—they brew, as well. COCONUT PORTER Porter with Coconut Maui Lahaina, HI 6.0% ABV
As detailed in a previous Deciblog post, we had the opportunity to tour the Maui brewing facility (which has since grown), as well as its brewpub, located a few miles up the road, in 2012. Brewing beer in the tropics offers some challenges (heat! humidity!) that most mainland brewers don't typically have to deal with. But Maui Brewing has embraced its island location and ingredients to the fullest and takes advantage of as many locally sourced ingredients as possible. This beer is made with coconut flakes that are toasted right there at the brewery.
Coconut is an interesting ingredient for beers in that you want to be able to taste it, but you don't want it to dominate. Since it is a fairly subtle flavor to begin with, the best way to utilize it is to pair it alongside complimentary flavors, such as the rich chocolatey/coffee notes in a porter. Maui's Coconut Porter is a perfectly balanced combination of (slightly) sweet, tropical and bitter notes. It has a enough ABV to give it the robustness a proper porter demands and dark roasted malt notes mingle well with the carmel/vanilla notes of the toasted coconut. It smells like a cup of delicious dark coffee, with a faint whiff of the beach with its swaying coconut palms in the background.
As mentioned above Maui has done some collaborations with mainland breweries that also spotlight local island ingredients. They teamed up with Lost Abbey to produce a bright, light and refreshing Lemongrass Saison, brewed with island lemongrass, of course. For their collab with Jolly Pumpkin they brewed Sobrehumana Palena'ole, a red ale with local liliko’i (aka passion fruit) and cherries from JP's home state of Michigan. The Dogfish Head collab was Liquid Breadfruit, brewed with, you guessed it, Maui breadfruit.
All of these brews no doubt taste best on a Maui beach—mostly because of the ambiance, not because of freshness issues—but drinking a Maui Coconut Porter wherever you are is a pretty good way to get a true taste of Hawaii. It's smooth, refreshing, tasty and super flavorful. Which stands in stark contrast to Marty Friedman's Hawaii, as seen below.
Adem Tepedelen's new craft beer book, Decibel Presents the Brewtal Truth Guide to Extreme Beers: An All-Excess Pass to Brewing's Outer Limits, is now available in the Decibel online store.