Maui Brewing

Restaurant pictures courtesy various posters at

Written by Tom Becham for Professor Goodales

Picture courtesy

When a friend calls you and says, “I’m booking a week in my time share on Maui. If you and your wife can meet me there, you’ll have a place to stay,” what do you say? You bloody well say “YES!”

That’s how Kim and I came to be on Maui very recently, and visit the Maui Brewing restaurant and pub.

I really wanted to love Maui Brewing. I wanted to title this piece something like “Heavenly Beers in Paradise”. I mean, how could you be on Maui and not be incredibly positive about everything?

Unfortunately, Maui Brewing is a little too slick, a little too impressed with its own skills, and not well-suited to a Hawaiian venue.

From previous trips to the islands, I have become very familiar with the products of Kona Brewing. And while Kona is quite capable of making some breathtaking and unusual craft beers (Pipeline Porter and Wailua Wheat come to mind) they also realize that most of their potential customers will have a more mainstream palate, and they’ve adjusted their offerings accordingly. Maui, on the other hand, brews for a beer geek crowd which has to be minuscule in Hawaii. This is not necessarily a bad thing. But if Maui Brewing is to survive in the brewing business, then it must be concerned with economic viability in its first few years of operation.

Whew. Okay, I got that out of the way.

Maui Brewing advertises its brewpub as having a “value menu”. For those of you new to Hawaii, that translates to “outside of Hawaii, the prices would merely be considered obscenely expensive”. But yes, for Maui, the prices were pretty good. { Traveler’s Note : Hawaii is quite expensive compared to the mainland. Largely, this is due to having to ship in most everything used, but there’s also the fact that Hawaii depends on tourism for its economic well-being, so profit motive is behind it, too. Take ALL your credit cards, and whatever cash you think you’ll need, double the amount and add 20%. Oh, and by the way – you’re welcome. }

The food wasn’t bad. I had a “Local Plate” which consisted of kalua pork, rice and macaroni salad. Our friend had an alfredo-style pasta dish with shrimp. She stated the shrimp was extremely fresh, and the sauce quite nice. My wife’s dish was a near-miss, however. She had the beef stew in a sauce made from Maui’s Coconut Porter. The sauce itself was wonderful, but the meat in the stew was rather tough, and the vegetables slightly undercooked (and my wife tends to like her veggies al dente, so most folks would consider the veggies almost raw!). The dish is potentially a winner, but the kitchen staff needs to work on it a bit.

(May not be same dish: listed by website as "Kalua Pork"-PGA)

The atmosphere in the brewpub was rather grating, too. Being in my mid-40s, maybe it’s a function of age, but I find the mix of loud pop music and blaring televisions with sporting events to be crazy-making. Maui Brewing needs to decide on one or the other. According to my wife, the restrooms were also in dire condition, and this was early in the evening in the middle of the week.

On the other hand, the service was good, and the servers friendly and knowledgeable. However, it was a bit awkward to have salads delivered to our table virtually simultaneously with the entree.

Okay, on to the beer.

The beer tasters were actually quite a good value. 14 samples for $15. The samples were only 2 ounces rather than the usual brewpub 4 ounces. Still, given the number of brews served, the smaller amount is rather a good idea.

Some basic impressions of the brews:

Flyin’ Hi P. Hay – A resiny IPA using Falconer Flight hops. Insufficient malt backbone for the bitterness, but interesting use of the hop.

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Coconut Porter – This is Maui’s flagship beer (along with the Bikini Blonde). Quite nice, but more like a stout in consistency and body. The coconut is also not much perceptible except on the nose.

Big Swell IPA – Fairly standard IPA, using the ubiquitous Cascade hop. Big blast of grapefruit from the hops, with a LONG finish.

Bikini Blonde Lager – Billed as a Helles, but too hoppy a bite on the finish to be true to style. Light bodied, with a buttery quality.

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Maui Brown – A nutty, semi-sweet brown with a thin body.

Black Rock Ale – A hoppy “Cascadian Dark Ale” with a more obvious roasty flavor than most of its kin.

Pau Hana Pilsner – A starkly bitter German-style pilsner that smooths out on the finish.

West Side ESB – This one was all over the place. More like an attempt at an English pale than a bitter or ESB, and possessing a raucously American hop level.

Imperial Coconut Porter – Actually far better than the regular Coconut Porter (which is pretty decent in itself). Only a small difference in alcohol levels (6.5% for the regular, 7.9% for the Imperial), but the Imperial has a much more appropriate mouthfeel for a porter. The coconut is also more notceable, even with the slightly boozy palate. This one shows the talent and potential of Maui’s brewer(s).

La Perouse White – Again, not really true to style. No coriander on the palate or nose. More like a hefeweizen with a little citrus flavor. Banana and bubblegum aromas/flavors from the yeast.

Solei’s Golden – Crisp and grainy, with more malt backbone than most goldens, but the hops overwhelm all of that.

Amber Reign – Most American brewpub Ambers are distinctly unimpressive to me. Maui’s is no different.

Oaked Father Damien – Maui’s Dubbel which is then aged in oak pinot noir wine barrels. Oak tannins obvious over the sweetness of the Dubbel. Interesting scotch-like finish. Another one that shows how great Maui could be.

Ace in the Face – A single-hop Pale (Sorachi Ace being the hop) with a warm herbal/flowery aroma and flavor. THIS is the kind of beer Maui needs to make more of to entice the tourists. That way, they can play with hops as
much as they want, and still appeal to more mainstream palates.

In short, Maui Brewing has some problems that they need to address. Whether they do so and realize their potential is anyone’s guess. So if you are on Maui anytime in the near future, I’d give this place a miss and find some place that serves Kona beers on tap.

If you’re still interested in Maui Brewing beers, they sell in cans their Coconut Porter, Bikini Blonde, Big Swell IPA and Mana Wheat (a beer I didn’t taste which is therefore not reviewed here).

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Tom Becham lives in California, he’s a homebrewer and reviews beer, brewpubs, breweries and beer events for

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