Category Archives: beer

Maui Brewing Company

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.



Movie and Wine with a Beer Chaser

Lori and I went and saw the movie “Chef” yesterday. Fun movie, and I’ll pass along the advice we received from everyone else: Don’t go hungry! The food in the movie looks great.

One interesting thing in the movie was the choice of wine. To set the scene, Dustin Hoffman is playing a restaurant owner, seemingly a relatively high end place. Oliver Platt is a reviewer, who has given the restaurant a lousy review, and is now back for a second review. Jon Favreau, who was the chef, has quit the restaurant after Dustin Hoffman made him cook the same old menu for the first review, instead of the innovate menu Favreau wants to cook. Dustin Hoffman offers the reviewer a glass of “2009 BV”, saying that this was a gift from the winery. I’m sure BV (Beaulieu Vineyards) paid for the product placement, but irrespective of which winery it was, a 2009 is a subtle choice. It’s a very good year for Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon wines like BV, and while it should taste good now, it will taste better in a few years. If Hoffman was a really good restauranteur, and wanted to impress the reviewer, he should have better (more drinkable) wines to offer. But Hoffman is not that good, just thinks he is, and the choice of wines subtly reinforces the point made in the movie. Nothing against BV, as their Tapestry blend is one of my go-to wines (can’t go wrong if you choose this wine) on restaurant wine lists, just making the point that this was an unusually perceptive choice of prop for a movie.


After the movie, which we saw at the Vine in Livermore (great theater), we headed back home. Except that on the way home we saw a sign for a brewery, and it was a hot day, and we were thirsty, and that was about all the excuse we needed to follow the signs. Eventually they led us to Eight Bridges Brewing in Livermore. Their brewery and tasting room is located in an industrial park near the airport in Livermore. We found a nice crowd inside, drinking beer and playing bar games. We joined in on the beer drinking, trying everything except the stout. Lori’s favorite was the Golden Nektar, a Bavarian style pilsner. While I enjoyed the Red and the IPA, my favorite was the Fyrst RIPA. As explained by George, behind the bar, this was originally supposed to be a Red. However, by the time they got their permits, they couldn’t get all the original ingredients, and when it was done it seemed a cross between a Red and an IPA. Thus “RIPA”. Seriously good, nicely balanced beer. I’ll be coming back for more. Try it out for a break from wine tasting.

First the samples, then the empties.


Larry Lapides