If you like fine tobacco, craft brew and rare whiskey, you should stop by the Sheraton Maui’s Craft Session this Saturday.
Whiskey and beer? Together? Absolutely–in fact, whiskey has its roots in the same stuff beer is made of, and their notes are naturally complementary.
“Beer and whiskey have gone hand in hand for thousands of years and for good reason, they are produced from some of the very same raw materials,” says Bill Carl, a certified Cicerone beer specialist with Southern Wine and Spirits. “Ingredients in whiskey can consist of barley, rye and corn while a lot of traditional beers are also made with malted barley, rye and corn. These grains are historically grown in milder climates such as Ireland, Scotland and the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, which have similar food affinities that can be paired either with a strong whiskey in the dead of winter or a refreshing beer in the summer months. If you haven’t had the pleasure of tasting a whiskey barrel-aged beer, I implore you to do so!”
Maui Brewing Company will bring four beers to the craft session, and one of them will be a whiskey aged beer. There will be the Mana Wheat, their “flagship wheat ale,” which is brewed with Maui pineapple; the Pahoehoe Peppered Porter, a robust porter brewed with comapeño chilies; Father Damien, a Belgian-style abbey ale; and Lost at Sea, an India Pale Ale aged in rye whiskey barrels for two years, then dry-hopped with whole leaf El Dorado hops.
“These beers were chosen to represent a wide breadth of diversity amongst a world of beer styles and flavors,” says Tony Ren, Maui Brewing Co.’s General Manager. “The Lost at Sea is an interesting example where we incorporate some old world techniques such as barrel aging but with an American-style IPA and dry-hopped with hops grown in Washington. Each beer will bring a unique set of flavors and qualities you’ll want to match and contrast with the whiskeys, cigars and food at this event.”
At the event, Cigar Bar Hawaii, owned by Elaine Dalistan, will give a presentation on cigars, pairing them and the art of smoking them. Different tobaccos will have different tasting notes, depending on region and type. Cigar Bar will have Macunaudo, Punch Champion, La Gloria Cubana Series R No. 4, Hoyo de Monterey, CAO Moontrance and CAO Bella Vanilla.
“Tobacco leaves are like fine wine,” says Dalistan. “The best of the best farmers grow and raise tobacco plants like a science. It actually starts from choice of soil, types of seed, weather and hands of farmers who will harvest them. Leaves are well taken care from the ground to the roller. A tobacco plant has 12 to 14 leaves and the top leaves are the cream of the crop. A cigar consist of three types of tobacco leaves: wrapper, filler and binder. Rolling a cigar is not easy as it looks. Some rollers takes months to perfect cigar rolling. After they’re rolled, they’re placed in an aging room. Every company ages their cigars different lengths of time but they’re aged for perfection. After the aging stage, the cigars are sorted by hand and go into a cigar box, usually made of Spanish cedar.”
This year’s Craft Session will be taking a look at Old World ways versus New World styles in beer production.
“The biggest difference in using ‘old world’ and ‘new world’ processes, in my opinion, would be the sourcing of ingredients,” says Carl. “It would be fairly uncommon to see a German brewer using hops from England and vice-versa but not too uncommon for a brewer in Pennsylvania to use Czech hops and grain from North Dakota while using a German strain of yeast. We have the privilege in this country of being a melting pot and also not having a thousand year old brewing traditions to break so we can brew pretty much whatever we want.”
For Maui Brewing Co., using old traditions but translating them with a modern palate and tropical ingredients gives them leeway to create their most popular beers.
“Most ingredients used in brewing are geographically specific,” says Ren. “For example, significantly varied flavors can be achieved between German Hallertau hops and American Northwest hops or by using a Belgian yeast compared to a California ale yeast. The Mana Wheat is an American-style wheat ale that we’ve incorporated Maui pineapples into. This is a good example of how wheat beers have evolved from its ‘old world’ German-style yeast flavors of banana and clove to a ‘new world’ variation where the taste is much cleaner and brighter. Of course the juicy local pineapples used were not commonly found in the old world either.”
Whiskey is less affected by distinctions, since distillation processes have remained consistent. But new trends–blended versus single malts, small batches and single barrel aging–are all influencing the market.
“The terms ‘old world’ and ‘new world’ don’t really apply to distilled beverages, but more to the wine world,” says spirits expert Chandra Lam Lucariello. “However, we are seeing some new things done particularly in America, such as the making of American whiskeys that are done in the style of Scotch and also American styles of gin, getting away from the classic London dry style. Single Malt is typically used in scotch production meaning that the whiskey that is in the bottle has only come from that one particular distillery, using pot still distillation, with malted barley as the only grain ingredient. To be honest, there really isn’t any regulation when it comes to the term ‘small batch’ and there are some distilleries that abuse that term, aging their spirits in very large vats instead of individual barrels, but it really depends on the distillery.”
The whiskeys presented will span the world–Scotland, Ireland, Japan and America. The Hibiki is a 12-year blend of Japanese Bourbon malts and grain whiskey, aged in sherry and plum liquor barrels. You can also taste an American rye made in the Michter Distillery, which was established in the late 1700’s. Ireland’s Tyrconnell Single Malt Sherry Finish is a 10-year-old single malt aged in sherry, Madiera and port barrels. You get extra points for correct pronunciation of Ardbeg Uigeadail (pronounced ‘Oog-a-dal’) from Scotland, a Scotch known for its silky brilliance and special filtering.
“We will be showcasing Japanese whiskeys from the Nikka distillery,” says Lucariello. “Masataka Taketsuru is considered the father of Japanese whiskey and he started two distilleries, the Yoichi which is located in Hokkaido, and Miyagikyo, which is in Sendai.”
Craft Session also pairs a selection of gourmet tastes to graze with the whisky and craft brews. Stations will offer select artisan cheeses, braised meats and vegetable crudite with tangy dips, as well as a selection of sweets. Ocean Vodka will serve the event’s opening refreshment with an Asian fusion drink.
The event will be held on the Sheraton’s spacious Ocean Lawn. Tickets are $89. Call 808-921-4600 for more info.
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• Roasted mac nut-truffle crusted lamb with Hamakua mushroom-red wine sauce
• Assorted artisan cheese with house made lavosh, crostinis, crackers, dried fruits, artichoke pesto and macadamia nut hummus
• Upcountry farm vegetables with basil-lemon aioli, kim chee aioli and avocado-wasabi tobiko dip.
• Assorted petit fours
Hibiki 12 Year (Japan), Michter’s Single Barrel Rye (America), Tyrconnell “Sherry Finish” Single Malt (Ireland), Ardbeg Uigeadail (Scotland)
Mana Wheat (5.5 percent ABV, IBU 18), Pahoehoe Peppered Porter (6 percent ABV, IBU 30),Lost at Sea India Pale Ale (10.7 percent ABV, IBU 62), Father Damien Abbey Ale (8 percent ABV, IBU 25)
Macanudo, Punch Champion, La Gloria Cubana Series R. No. 4, Hoyo de Monterey, CAO Moontrance, CAO Bella Vanilla