Another famous brewpub in Hawaii is the Maui Brewing Company in Lahaina. I had that on my list of places to visit while we were on Maui, but we just never got around to doing it. Thanks to Cindy's keen eyes and a little bit of backtracking, we did go there for lunch on the last day we were on Maui.
We usually ship a number of items back home when we're on vacation to free up space in suitcases for things we want to return home immediately with us. Before we left Maui on our last day, we took a lot of stuff (dirty clothes, tour guides, macadamia nuts, knick-knacks, etc.) to a UPS Store in Lahaina to ship back home. After that was done, we still had about three hours to kill. We were trying to figure out someplace to go eat lunch before we had to go to the airport for the first leg of our long trip home.
We had visited downtown Lahaina a couple days earlier and decided that we didn't want to eat lunch at any of the tourist-trap restaurants they had in the area. We thought we'd work our way back toward the airport and see if there was any place that sort of jumped out at us where we could stop.
As we were stopped at a traffic light in Lahaina, Cindy looked over and exclaimed, "Hey, the Maui Brewing Company! Isn't that where you said you wanted to go?"
I was past the entrance of the place and had to do a turn-around up the road to come back. I turned into the entrance to a strip mall parking lot and headed toward a sign in the back that said, "Maui Brewing Company" with an arrow pointing to the left. I turned the corner and headed back toward a large industrial looking building. It was quite obvious this wasn't the brew pub but the brewery. Disappointed, I started to turn the car around and Cindy noticed an open door on the side of the building. She said, "If someone's in there, they should know where the brew pub is."
I went in and the place reeked of crisp, baked hops. Yep, this was the brewery. I didn't see anyone, so I hollered, "Hello!" a couple of times. Finally, a guy and a lady came around the corner and asked if they could help me.
I said I was looking for the brew pub and he said, "Oh, that's up the road a bit. This is the brewery." I asked how far up the road it was and he said it was about six miles to the north. We were almost there when we were at the UPS store just earlier.
The lady came back around the corner and had a brochure on the brew pub that included a map to the place, along with some Maui Brewing Company stickers. They gave them to me and I headed back outside. As I getting ready to get into the car, another car pulled up and a lady asked out her window, "Is this the Brew Pub?"
The guy hollered back to the lady, "Get another brochure, honey!"
We took off back up north on the Honoapiilani Highway toward where we were earlier in the day, past the large resorts and toward Napili Bay. In the meantime, Cindy had programmed the address into the GPS and it took us to a strip mall at the northwest corner of Honoapiilani Hwy and Hoohui Road (I love Hawaiian street names). Back in the corner of the strip mall was the Maui Brewing Company brew pub (see map).
The Maui Brewing Company began in 2005 when Garrett Marrero (right) and Melanie Oxley joined forces with Tom Kerns, who owned the Fish and Game Brew Pub on Maui. Marrero's background was in personal financing and investments in his native San Diego and first visited Maui in 2001. He had a longtime love for craft brews and decided to move to Maui to start his own micro-brewed beer.
With Kerns' help, Marrero and Oxley started a production facility (the location we went to first) in 2006. After helping get Marrero established, Kerns eventually sold the brew pub to Maui Brewing Company in 2008. He then "retired" but turned up again as the guy behind Tako Taco on the Big Island and who is in the midst of establishing a small micro-brewery behind the place. Click here to see the post on our visit to Tako Taco.
Marrero's goal was to make both the brewery and the brew pub "sustainable" as they use ingredients in the beer and for their food that is locally grown on Maui. Maui Brewing Company's beers use unique ingredients such as coconuts, pineapple, guava and other sustainable produce in the brewing process.
The interior of the Maui Brewing Company could be easily described as industrial. It's a large space with an open black ceiling that exposes the truss beams across the top. There are four skylights that allow natural light to come in during the day, cutting down on the need for lights in the restaurants during the day. There's a large bar toward the back of the dining room with a series of tables and booths throughout the place. One of the more unique features of the place were the lights on the wall and from the ceiling. They had taken small kegs and made hanging lights out of them. And it was like they had taken the same small kegs, cut them in half and hung them on the wall in front of a light. It was a rather ingenious use of old kegs.
Marrero's philosophy of being a "green" company encompasses both the brew pub and the brewery. The tables they use at the brew pub are made with recycled materials. In fact, much of Maui Brewing Company's philosophy is based upon reducing the carbon footprint they produce. Their beers are available in cans and not bottles as bottles can break and you definitely don't want broken glass on a beach. Plus, Garrett Marrero's philosophy is that light can cause beer to go bad. No light can get into a can of Maui Brewing Company beer. The cardboard trays they deliver the can beer to at various retail locations are picked up and re-used each week. They try to use the cardboard trays as often as possible before recylcing the cardboard at the end of their life-span.
We sat at a table toward the center of the room and we were given menus to look over. They have a grease board menu on the wall near the bar that lists all of the beers they have on tap. I saw one that sort of caught my attention - the Exotic Ale made with lilikoi. Anything with lilikoi caught my attention, actually, and I ordered one of those. Cindy ordered up a glass of the Big Swell IPA, a hearty and hoppy India Pale Ale that had a little higher alcohol content that the Exotic Ale.
The food at the brew pub also has a "home-grown" theme with Maui-raised beef, produce and and fresh fish caught off the coasts. The beef they use at the brew pub is from the Maui Cattle Company ranch on Maui. They call their food "from farm to table and beyond."
The menu at the Maui Brewing Company was very interesting with a number of soups and salads, a load of yummy sounding appetizers, sandwiches and pizza. Their entrees included a coconut beef stew - beef and veggies in a hearty broth made from the brewery's Coconut Porter. They also had a number of pastas, jambalaya and ribs on the entree menu.
I'd only had one hamburger while I was in Hawaii and none while we were on Maui. The only burger Maui Brewing Company has on their menu is the Maui Cattle Company burger, a 1/2 pound burger served on an onion bun with Maui-grown lettuce, sweet onions and tomatoes. I'll tell you, I miss a lot about Hawaii, but Hawaiian-grown tomatoes are at or near the top of my list of things I miss the most. You can also include a number of toppings including goat cheese, jalapenos, and onion rings. I got Swiss cheese and mushrooms to top off my burger.
We'd had sort of a large breakfast a few hours earlier (I don't think you can get a small breakfast on Hawaii) and Cindy was torn between getting a sandwich or one of Maui Brewing Company's delicious sounding salads. She finally settled on getting their Butterleaf wedge salad - a large chunk of Maui-grown butterleaf lettuce, topped with bleu-cheese crumbles, macadamia nuts (that was the clincher for her) and finished off with chopped tomatoes and a gluten-free dijon vinaigrette dressing.
I'd finished my Exotic Ale - it was OK, not as good as I hoped. It was sort of light and would have been a good beer on a hot summer day. I tried a small sample of Cindy's Big Swell IPA and it was good, so I went with one of those for my second beer.
I got up to use the restroom before our food came and I wandered over to the bar area. The bar top was made of stainless-steel so the wood wouldn't deteriorate from sweating beer glasses. But what was rather interesting about the bar was the cooling strip along the back edge. The white strip in the not so clear picture at the right is the cooling strip that will allow people to rest their beer on the strip, keeping it cold as they pause between drinks. I've been accused of being a quick drinker when it comes to beer because I don't care for the taste of beer above 40 degrees (F). I could literally sip my beer if I had a cooling strip like this.
Our food came out soon after and the presentation was very nice. Cindy's salad wedge didn't look like a conventional wedge salad like we'd get back on the mainland. It was a large collection of large leaf lettuce - I guess that would be butterleaf lettuce - with a healthy amount of chopped tomatoes and blue-cheese crumbles and drizzled with the dijon vinaigrette. It looked good and healthy.
My burger was equally good looking. Large, chopped fresh sauteed mushrooms on top of the melted Swiss cheese on the burger made my stomach jump. A large butterleaf lettuce leaf along with sweet Maui onions and a slice of a Maui tomato garnished the side. Beer-battered fries came with the meal, but I was sort of upset afterward that I didn't order up a side of their beer-battered onion rings because the beer-batter was very good.
The burger was thick and juicy and the toasted bun was light, but not to chewy. I like a good onion bun on a burger and the one at Maui Brewing Company didn't disappoint. The Big Swell IPA, although somewhat filling, was a good compliment to the burger.
About half-way through the meal, our waiter came over to check on us. I was low on beer and he asked if I wanted another one. I was getting sort of full, so I perused the board for a lighter-bodied beer to finish off my meal. The waiter said, "We have the Hot Blonde which is a lager, but it's infused with chipotle peppers. It's got kind of a smoky taste with a little bite in the end." I like hot stuff, but not so much in my beer. I ended up getting a Pau Hana Pilsner. Cindy was doing fine with her original Big Swell IPA. She could have benefited from having the cooling strip at the bar.
My burger was very good. The grass-fed Maui Cattle Company beef was juicy and flavorful. The tomato had this amazing taste explosion in my mouth. I finally figured out why they scan your bags for fruit and vegetables when you leave Hawaii for the mainland - they don't want you taking Hawaiian tomatoes or lilikoi back home with you. They want to make them only available on the islands so you'll have to come back at some point to enjoy the taste.
Cindy also declared her salad as very good. The bleu-cheese was pungent and flavorful. And she really liked the dijon vinaigrette. She said it was the perfect lunch for her after the big breakfast.
And I have to say that of the three beers I tried, I think I liked the Pau Hana Pilsner the best. They were all very good, but I sort of liked the pilsner taste of the Pau Hana over the Big Swell IPA.
I'm glad we were able to go to the Maui Brewing Company. It's the only one on Maui and it would be tough to top if another brew pub were to pop up at some point. The beer was good, the food was very good and the service was attentive, yet laid back. It was also a little expensive - our bill with tip came to nearly $50 bucks. But it was our last true meal while we were in Hawaii and it didn't disappoint in the least.