In August a bit of a media kerfuffle ensued after Gallup released their annual American alcohol consumption report. According to their findings, the King of drinks–that would be beer–has been on a slippery slope for the last two decades. Immediately, Slate.com pounced, proclaiming the “Stunning collapse of beer.” The Atlantic quickly followed, predicting that “Americans were turning on beer.” And The Seattle Times reported that urban Washington was losing their lust for suds.
In fact, while beer has enjoyed a 20-year stint on the indisputable top of the alcohol pyramid, and today wine is giving it a run for its money, that wonderful, refreshing, life-affirming concoction of barley, malt and hops is here to stay.
The craft brew segment is a big reason for that longevity. They have been hip with the Millennial Generation’s demand for all things artisan and regional, which is where corporate brews struggle. Brewers Association figures show that while the total US beer market grew just a single percentage point from 2011 to 2012, 15 percent of that growth was in craft brews. The diversity and local appeal seems endless with 2,347 craft breweries located nationwide, compared to the 56 other American breweries.
As expected, Maui’s craft brew industry is booming. Garrett and Melanie Marrero of Maui Brewing Company recently broke ground on their new brewery and tasting facility in South Maui. Maui Brewing Co. changed the island’s beer landscape by offering an extensive list of microbrews only found at their pub, a take home growler program, small seasonal batch releases and by using tons of local ingredients. Maui’s fifth annual Maui Brewers Festival also saw record numbers, and there were more beer pairing culinary events this year than ever before.
Establishments like Best of Maui winner Honu Seafood and Pizza and Monkeypod Kitchen offer a wide variety of seasonal craft brews. What’s more, island resorts are showing of the versatility of craft beers with Maui Brewing Co. brews and beer events like The Four Seasons’ third annual BrewHaha taking place this Saturday 6-9pm.
The theme this year is “Blondes versus Brunettes”–light beer takes on the dark side of suds in a challenge that can only end in merriment. Nick Martin, the resort’s Lobby Lounge Manager and Sam Faggetti, the Executive Sous Chef, will host this unique, interactive flavor battle.
“I’m excited to offer our guests such a diverse line up of craft brews,” says Martin. “Each one of the beers is uniquely interesting. One current trend is using smaller production craft breweries that use locally sourced products that are fresh and seasonal. All of the beers on the list exemplify this. Hand-crafted spirits are definitely hot right now, but craft beer is still a major player in the arena–and I personally feel it’s still on the incline.”
The events beer list features tastes of 14 different craft brews from around the world. Martin and Faggetti also had to endure many hours of training before they could decide what flavors would be best in the Brewhaha dishes.
“That’s the fun part,” says Faggetti. “I sampled all the beers in order to inspire the different tasting items on the menu. Distinct, pungent flavors pair well with beer because you can match the distinct flavors that characterize the many varieties of brews. When people think beers, they think of mouth-watering burgers. We’re making Double Double Cheeseburgers with In-N-Out Sauce for the event. I’m expecting that station to be one of the most popular.”
Think of craft brew tastings like this as a chance to explore your palate and find new flavors you might not have discovered elsewhere. Faggetti and Martin teamed with Maui Brewing Co.’s Marrero for the Brewhaha to bring you the newest innovative brews like the unusual watermelon and peppercorn Bangerang Imperial Wheat Ale, brewed by Kaiao Archer. Maui Brewco’s Honey Golden Ale and Pau Hana Pilsner will also be featured.
For warm weather beer drinking, Martin says the “La Fin Du Monde is light and refreshing without compromising depth and structure.” In this oceanside lawn environment, your palate might also appreciate Fried Oyster Po’boy Sliders with caper and gherkin remoulade, Haiku tomato and Maui onion with a Tres Pistoles. There’s also the Deschutes Chainbreaker with a vegetarian grilled flatbread topped with Surfing Goat cheese. You probably won’t find a bad match anywhere in the bunch, but you might come away with a new a favorite.
“Maui Brewing Co. Bangerang and the Kiawe BBQ Tako with Chipotle Sauce with watermelon rind, cucumber and mint salad is a perfect pairing,” says Martin. “The Bangerang is actually brewed with local watermelon and pink peppercorns.”
As for Faggetti, he loves beer served with “fried spicy food and pronounced flavors.” His recommendation is the tempura spicy ahi roll with unagi sauce, sriracha and wasabi aioli.
“Beer tastings menus are becoming as thoughtful as wine tasting menus are known to be,” says Faggetti. “We take the complexities of beer seriously and have created menu items to really enhance our guests’ experience. We’ve taken a lot of time to dissect the various notes on each beer and have mindfully designed a menu around them. Beer and cheese pairings are trending in the culinary world. The Tillamook Cheddar and Beer Soup with Butter Croutons is a nod to this. It will go great with a cold glass of Ballast Point IPA. We have a unique advantage being in Maui, as we have access to so many exotic ingredients. I find that island produce lends itself to beer pairings–the Ono Crudo with chili pepper water and Black Sea salt, micro cilantro and minced shallot is a great example of that.”
To join the beer skirmish at the third annual Brewhaha, call the Four Season’s Concierge at 808-874-2201 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your $89 ticket. Cast your vote for your favorite blonde or brunette and you can win dinner on the house.
* * *
• Coronado Orange Avenue Wit
• Don de Dieu
• Ballast Point IPA
• Deschutes Chainbreaker
• Maui Brewing Co. Bangerang Imperial Wheat
• Maui Brewing Co. Hula Honey Golden Ale
• Maui Brewing Co. Pau Hana Pilsner
• Clown Shoes Sombreo Chocolate Ale
• Clown Shoes Blaecorn Unidragon Ale
• Rogue Chip Ale
• La Fine Du Monde
• Tres Pistoles
• Rogue Morimoto Hazelnut Stout
• Rogue Oatmeal Stout
• Short Rib Loco Moco, Jasmine Rice Cake, Sous Vide Egg, Black Truffle Gravy
• Kiawe BBQ Tako, Chipotle Sauce with Watermelon Rind, Cucumber and Mint salad
• Tempura Spicy Ahi Roll, Unagi Sauce, Sriracha and Wasabi Aioli
• Carne Asada Tacos, Grilled Prime Skirt Steak, Fresh Avocado, Cilantro Sour Cream, Tamimi Farm Tomato Pico De Gallo
• Double-Double Cheeseburgers, American Cheese, In N Out Sauce
• Vegetarian Grilled Flatbread, Cranberry and Caramelized Onion Relish, Surfing Goat Cheese
• Fried Oyster Po’boy Sliders, Caper and Gherkin Remoulade, Haiku Tomato, Maui Onion
• Tillamook Cheddar and Beer Soup, Buttered Croutons
• Cedar Plank Salmon, Blackberry Ginger Gastrique, Herb Salad
• Ono Crudo, Chili Pepper Water, Black Sea Salt, Micro Cilantro, Minced Shallot
• Individual Pork Belly Rilettes, Chimichuri Sauce