I never put anything in my mouth that I know nothing about. This presented something of a problem where upcoming Oktoberfest was concerned, since I don’t know all that much about beer. And as anyone knows, you can’t have Oktoberfest without beer.
To find out more, I went to Maui Brewing Co. in Kahana. There, I tried all the locally brewed selections. I found the Bikini Blonde Lager light and refreshing. The Honolua Lager was very similar, but had a little higher alcohol content. Primo Pilsner has a full-bodied taste with a little kick. The Maui Pale Ale had a similar bite to it but was more aromatic. Their Coconut Porter was a dark, chocolatey-coconut concoction. The Wild Hog Stout was dark like Guinness but not nearly as thick.
The whole experience was awesome, but I realized I didn’t know enough about the basics of beer to appreciate all of the aspects of the brews. So the next night I went to Cafe Marc Aurel in Wailuku for an actual beer tasting hosted by Marc himself. There I learned so much about beer that I actually remembered most of it the next morning.
First, we had some Pabst Blue Ribbon as a palate cleanser. PBR was originally called “Select” but in 1882 people began referring to it as “Blue Ribbon” because there used to be an actual blue ribbon tied around the neck. Some say Pabst is the first brewery to put beer in a can. I was surprised to find that common beers like Pabst, Budweiser and Miller are all lagers.
By the way, there are only three types of beer: ale, lager and specialty. Ales are distinguished by the use of top fermenting yeasts and fermenting at warmer temperatures. Lagers use bottom fermenting yeasts and fermenting at cooler temperatures. And specialty beers have additional ingredients other than the basic four used in all beer: water, malted barley, hops and yeast.
Next, we tasted Amstel Light, which is both a lager and refreshing. Blue Moon is a wheat beer spiced with coriander and orange peel, making it a specialty beer and my personal favorite. I.P.A. Inversion followed with its hoppy kick (any beer with the term “Indian” in it is going to be hoppy).
Then we moved on to Sam Adams Oktoberfest Beer, with its four different roasts of barley that gives it hints of caramel and toffee. Next we tried Paulaner, which comes from the Paulaner Brewery, first opened in 1634 by German monks.
“Bocks” are hearty beers, high in alcohol and go through a long second fermentation. A Doppelbock (double bock) has an even higher alcohol content and traditionally the brewer gives it a name ending in “ator”—like Spaten Optimator, which is what we had next.
Deschutes Black Butte Porter is rich with chocolate essence. And lastly, we had Murphy’s Stout, a beer that comes in a can equipped with a nitrogen widget. You know, that plastic thing that clicks around in the can. It actually gives it a “pub effect,” making it taste as though it came straight from a keg.
When I was done, I felt confident that I could go out into the world and choose a beer that I actually knew something about. Remember, beer can be your friend and one of the best social lubricants. And October is the month when we pay homage to that. MTW