December – April is humpback whale season in Maui
Lori and I took some time off last week and went to Maui. Really took time off: I think I responded to two emails over a span of 6 business days. Maui is, of course, great at any time of the year, but it’s especially nice in the December – April period when the humpback whales are around. We saw whales every day we were there, whether from the shore or from a boat as in the photo above from a snorkeling boat trip.
About 30 turtles were hauled up on the beach on the north shore of Maui. Awkward on land; amazingly graceful in the water: we saw one while snorkeling.
While in Maui we stayed for 3 nights with a friend in Kihea, then went and stayed 3 nights at a hotel in Kaanapali. We went whale watching, snorkeling, hiked through a bamboo forest to a “hidden” waterfall and swam in the pool below, saw an ocean blow hole that shot water 75 feet in the air, went to the beach and body surfed, saw turtles (about 30) hauled out on a beach resting, and spent a day at the hotel pool and beach just relaxing.
The bar and beer menu at the Maui Brewing Company tasting room
One of the highlights of the trip was our visit to the Maui Brewing Company (MBC) brewery and tasting room in Kihei. They had about 20 of their own brews, plus about another half dozen guest brews on tap. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the MBC beer. Lori had a pint of their Pineapple Mana wheat beer, which while not my cup of tea (speaking of brews and mixing metaphors), was very well executed. Lori loved it. I had a sampler, which included the
Bikini Blonde: Standard lager, easily my least favorite beer I tasted there, but very popular in the island restaurants (probably because of the name).
Pali Hana Pilsner: Well done Czech style pilsner.
Pueo Pale Ale: West coast style pale ale, not too bitter, really nice, probably my favorite of the ones I tasted.
Big Swell IPA: I liked it at the brewery, and had it twice more at restaurants/bars on the trip. Consistently a very good IPA, with good balance, a characteristic of MBC beers.
Lahaina Town Brown: Most breweries don’t make a brown ale, and of the ones that do, most shouldn’t. This was a good brown ale though, well balanced.
Haleakala Sunryes IPA: Adding rye to ales has been trendy in craft breweries for the past year or two. Up until now, I’ve approached this as a fad, with minimal substance. This brew changed my mind. My favorite from that evening, and now I’ll keep looking for other good beers that incorporate rye. Nicely balanced IPA, not too bitter, not too hoppy, with some tang from the rye.
Sampler of Maui Brewing Company brews
It would have been nice if they served food at the tap room, but there was a food truck on the street there. Unfortunately, it was cold food only. Some fresh fish tacos would have been great. They did have a guy on acoustic guitar there, and he (Johnny Ringo) was pretty good. They also have games there – jenga, trivial pursuit, full size connects, … – and people were sitting and playing. Actually, the place had every table occupied when we arrived; we ended up sharing a table with a family from Minnesota. The table, in the outside patio, had a nice view of the ocean. Unfortunately, the outside patio is open to the elements, a feature that became apparent when it started to rain and the wind blew the rain into the patio. (Saved the beer; got wet myself. Priorities.)
Fish tacos at Rock & Brews, Paia, Maui, with a pint of Maui Brewing’s Big Swell IPA
One of the places I had the MBC Big Swell IPA was at Rock & Brews in Paia. I did get my fish tacos there, with a great mango salsa and some black beans. Great meal.
By the way, there’s a winery and a distillery on Maui. We weren’t brave enough to try the winery, and the distillery makes only vodka, which neither Lori nor I are passionate enough about to go visit. But Maui Brewing Company is worth a visit for a fun night and some beer good enough to be competitive with any of the Northern California craft breweries.