Each year, Maui’s beer enthusiasts flock to the great lawn of the Maui Arts & Cultural Center for a celebration of beer punctuated by diverse music and supplemented with tasty food. For a decade now, the MACC’s annual Maui Brewers Festival has brought brewers from around Hawaii and the mainland together to showcase beers typically not found on Maui. Now in its 10th year, the May 19 event will bring together island favorites and famous mainland breweries to celebrate the love of the art and craft of beer.
“We are very excited for the 10th this year–it’s going to be awesome,” said Nicole Humphrey, the event coordinator. Humphrey said that this year’s festival will be the biggest yet, with 45 breweries, 90 tastings and 15 rare beer options.
As usual, many local breweries will be featured, and the popular Hawaii Zone will feature 14 breweries from the islands, including Maui’s own. The Kohala Brewery will pour Talk-Story Pale Ale and Red Sand, while Maui Brewing Company, the event’s founding presenting sponsor, “will be serving nine beers total, with their VIP beer featuring a single whiskey barrel-aged Saint Damien Belgian,” said Humphrey. Numerous breweries from the neighbor islands will be represented too, with the Kauai Island Brewing Company, Hawai‘i Island’s Big Island Brewhaus and Hawai‘i Nui Brewing, and Oahu’s Honolulu Beerworks, Beerlab Hawaii and Aloha Beer Company.
“The beer excites me every year with this festival,” said Humphrey. “I love seeing the trends in craft beer come to this festival. For instance, we have a lot of sours being poured this year. There will be a beer for everyone, with over 90 options of great quality, craft beer. We have more hard cider options than we have ever had.”
Many mainland breweries will also be in attendance pouring beer not available anywhere on Maui. “It’s exciting that you get to try beer that we never get on island, from breweries across the mainland,” said Humphrey. “One even from Texas this year!”
If the beer tastes as good as it sounds, attendees are in for a treat. As usual at beer fests, one of the best things is the creative names of the beers, and the menu this year will not disappoint. Twilight Summer Ale from Deschutes will be served alongside Kokobopo from Kauai Beer Co, and beer enthusiasts will have to decide between Captain Cook’s IPA and Kids These Haze. Local breweries and out-of-towners alike will feature island-inspired flavorings like lilikoi, coconut, yuzu, and guava with names like “Kanaha Blonde Ale” and “Clever Hoppy Name XPA.”
Non-drinkers can also enjoy the festivities, with kombucha, root beer, and of course delicious food. “We will be featuring a small “food truck” park, along with Vitali-tea kombucha being served on tap out of its trucks. The food trucks include Sumo Dogs, Fork & Salad/ Three’s Bar & Grill, Outrigger Pizza, Teddy’s Bigger Burgers,” said Humphrey. Over 20 local vendors will be there featuring diverse fare from poke to Indian. The price of food is included in the ticket, buffet style.
The all-local live music lineup with feature reggae band Riddum Station, funky jam band YumYum Beast, and the soulful Shea Butter and the Cream.
The festival, one of the most popular on the island, is a fundraiser for the MACC and supports its art, cultural, community and education activities. As Maui’s main event venue, the MACC hosts more than 1,500 events each year that reach hundreds of thousands of Maui residents.
Each admission ticket comes with eight 4 oz. beer tastings and a commemorative tasting glass. Those who are looking for a more exclusive experience can opt for the VIP option, which grants an earlier admission, exclusive tastings and some extra gear. Eight beer pours are included in the GA ticket price at $65 and 10 beer pours are included in the VIP ticket price at $120. Oh, and Vitali-Tea Kombucha and coffee, water and Maui Brewing Co. Root Beer are all free. If you want to taste more than 8-10 beers, then you can purchase more beer tastes at $3/ taste. General admission start at 3:30pm.
Go to Mauiarts.org/brew_fest for more info.
Photo: Bryan Berkowitz