Naturally when one thinks about spending 7-10 days off in an island paradise, one’s thoughts turn to alcohol consumption as a necessary and needed salve for the wounds of the typical workweek. On Maui, where I spent eight days during the month of May, an entire town called Lahaina appears to be a shrine to wanton beverage consumption, a mini-Bourbon Street or Las Vegas strip perched on the deep Pacific. That’s not exactly my “style”, if you know what I mean, but I did take the time on my recent sojourn to seek out some of the Islands’ distinct local beers. They aren’t hard to find – virtually every restaurant we visited had at least one native beer on tap or in bottles, and said bottles were found in every liquor store rack I happened to gaze at. The most popular brand on Maui at least appears to be KONA BREWING, based on "the big Island". We didn’t have any of those, but we had a couple others. I must say for the record that I had a pretty healthy inkling that I wasn’t going to find any Hawaiian chocolate porters here, nor any local Dopplebocks nor Russian Imperial Stouts. This is sun country, folks, and that usually means the darkest shade you’ll find is a glassy golden-amber. I also kept my expectations low, as experience tells me that the world’s best beers tend not to be brewed in climates where the year-round temperature fluctuates between 70 and 85 degrees, be it December or July.
But enough of my yakkin’. First up was KEOKI SUNSET ISLAND STYLE, made by Keoki Brewing on the garden island of Kauai. It is an amber lager, with a big emphasis on"lager", trending more toward generic American frat party beer than anything you'd want to seek out a second time. It was, I’m afraid to say, a “pour-out”. Oh sure, the main reason I couldn’t finish it was because my 2-year-old son was disturbing the patrons of some hippie café in Pai’a with his toddler hijinks and shenanigans, but it was the only excuse I needed. I gave it a 3/10, and that’s probably with a generous point applied for the glorious weather outside. A must to avoid. Much more pleasing was WAIMEA LUAU LAGER made by Waimea Brewing, also from Kauai. This one was a light, golden lager, perfect with Thai food & really tailor-made for island drinking. Very refreshing, but with just enough snob appeal that I got to sit back and think about it a little before pouring it down my throat. I reckon that the 6.5/10 I gave it when it was done may have added a half point added due to greatly exceeded expectations, but I also know that I wouldn’t be afraid to have a barman pull the taps for this one if it ever shows up on the mainland. And it’s a dreaded lager, no less – and even tasted like one! How about that?