Tropical vacations usually mean uninspired local beer. Can a Maui / Dogfish Head collab change our expectations?
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen James Cook discovered Hawaii in 1778, his crew bartered iron nails with the locals for a break in their erotic loneliness. The prices for vices have gone up on the isolated American paradise in subsequent years, but is there anything exotic left to be plundered from the islands?
Founded in 2005, Maui Brewing Company cranks out great beers such as their Coconut Porter in cans made to be taken to the beach. In 2012 they started a limited release series with creative beers such as Sobrehumano Palena’ole, a collaboration with sour beer brewer Jolly Pumpkin. The beers have focused on local ingredients such as Lilliko’i (passionfruit) and Mandarin oranges.
For Liquid Breadfruit, they continue that theme by incorporating a local staple. Breadfruit is a starch, potato or taro like fruit that is made into both sweet and savory dishes in the warm climates where it grows. The idea for brewing with it actually came from the creative mind of Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head who, having read about it thought it would pair well with Delaware Native Ale, a newly isolated yeast with ‘tropical notes’. Throw in some Papaya spicy seeds, Calypso hops, and over 8% alcohol by volume, and you have the recipe for a potent Hawaiian treat.
Maui brews all of their beer in Hawaii, and distribution is currently confined to the islands and a few western states, which limits the number of people who can sample their stuff. Even so, some took notice. Despite receiving little hype in most of the U.S., Liquid Breadfruit was selected a top 25 beer of 2012 by Draft Magazine.
The style the brewers have gone with is imperial golden ale, meaning a lighter color than even a pale ale, with a thin body, and a modest spicy or fruity hop presence paired with modest malt. The ‘imperial’ reference goes to the higher ABV, and Liquid Breadfruit has additional sweetness from the native Hawaiian fruit to match the booze. You pick up the sweetness immediately on the nose, along with some mango notes, possibly from the Delaware Native Ale yeast. Nice but mild.
The taste is a revelation! The sweetness from the nose is there with some complexity that comes with having fruit in a beer. The yeast and breadfruit pair deliciously, making this taste a bit like a Belgian blonde, with layers of flavor delivered briskly by the strong carbonation. Such a refreshing brew you can’t stop sipping. Could be a beautifully tempting choice on a hot summer day as the higher alcohol would never be detected until too late. Ravishingly delicious.
East coast brewing research and development meats Pacific rim wunderkind. The makers of 90 Minute IPA and relative upstarts on Maui, best known for a sweet coconut porter, get together to brew a beer. The results could have been mediocre, or even a small disaster. Instead, we are blessed with the birth of a one-of-a-kind brew. Both light and complex, refreshing and potent. If I could buy this locally, it would be a regular in the fridge. If you are somewhere out west that carries Maui, look for this winner.