Last month I was fortunate enough to attend Savor, a craft beer and food pairing event at the Building Museum in Washington, DC. This is a first class, annual event, featuring about 75 breweries paired with dishes by Adam Dulye from The Monk’s Kettle in San Francisco. While working through my “Must Try” list it was time to stop by Maui Brewing Company (MBC) to see what they had to offer. As my wife and I were about to get to the table we were selected by a Savor Representative to receive free tickets to the MBC Educational Salon hosted by founder Garrett Marrero. The event allowed us the opportunity to try a few extra beers while Garrett discussed the MBC history, the beers, and had a Q&A session. Besides tasting the fantastic beers (and accompanying food), I enjoyed hearing of their commitment to investing in Hawaii and sustainability efforts. They are doing some great stuff for the people of Hawaii and are determined to brew 100% of their beer in Hawaii.
One of their core beers not poured at Savor was the Bikini Blonde Lager, so after thoroughly enjoying both the Coconut Porter and the Mana Wheat (Pineapple in this wheat was amazing!) it was necessary for me to give this one a try. As I mentioned last week I love my summer beers, and what is more summer than a Bikini Blonde from Maui? At $12.99 a six-pack it is natural to have high expectations, but let me quickly explain the price – Hawaii is 5000 miles from Washington DC. Alright, there is more to it than that. MBC purchases core ingredients like malt, barley and hops from Europe and the mainland, so now you have to double the traveled distance of the beer (or at least the ingredients). Furthermore, MBC’s hard stance on brewing only in Maui (unlike Kona who brews on the mainland cutting a lot of expense) and shipping in cooled containers means we will just have to deal with the price or miss out. Ok, so I guess I should get to the reason we are here and see what Bikini Blonde has to offer.
Bikini Blonde has won multiple awards in the Munich Helles Lager style to include a silver medal in World Beer Cup (as noted on the can). Traditionally this style is characterized as slightly malty and containing spicy hop characters. This particular beer contains Munich Malts paired with Liberty, Sterling and Hersbrucker hops which are known for their spicy flavors. Pouring this beer I see a cloudy gold color with plenty of white colored head which quickly retreats. The smell of this beer is very interesting and not what I expect when I think of a lager. I would describe it as a mix of spiced rum and pineapple, which I find to combine for a pleasant aroma. Unfortunately upon taking my first sip I quickly realize I do not taste what I smell. I would describe this beer as overly malty and spicy with hints of nutty and vanilla tastes. It definitely has a lot of taste, but unfortunately I just do not feel that the flavors mesh very well and do not see this one matching up to the other beers brewed by MBC. I would suggest other beers in the Munich Helles Lager style such as Schlafly Summer Ale, Victory Lager, or Hof Brau Original over Bikini Blonde. Keep in mind if you enjoy malty beers with intense spice character this may be a great beer for you.
Overall, I really had really high hopes based on past MBC beers and definitely by the smell of this beer; however, all the flavors did not come together to my liking. Too much malt, too much spice. This beer has won several awards for a reason, but it will not fare too well on the almighty Draftnotes.com. I am sad to say I must rate Bikini Blonde Lager 2.5 mugs out of 5.