By James Reddicliffe
Maui is roughly a few thousand miles from any other destination on the planet outside of the islands comprising the Hawaiian archipelago, so it follows that you might think you’d be on an island when it comes to finding good beer. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. What Maui lacks in quantity, it more than makes up for in quality places to drink beer. This list is by no means exhaustive, but these were some of the best places to have a pint on a recent visit.
Maui Brewing Company
Maui Brewing company is the main attraction for local craft beer. Their canned offerings can be found at most retailers around the island, and they are on draft at almost every bar--divey or high-end alike. It would be a mistake not to visit the brewery, though. Located in an office park at the top of a hill, the brewery is spacious and offers a dining area, two bars and two outdoor areas with a pretty view of the water.
While the year-round classics like Big Swell IPA or Bikini Blonde Lager hit the mark, be sure not to miss the taproom-only offerings. They change frequently but range from hopped up IPA (both East and West Coast varieties) to saisons, stouts and even dunkels. Ask the friendly servers for a recommendation to go with any of their pizzas, sandwiches or salads and get comfortable for a night of good beer, live acoustic music (often featuring a ukulele) and Hawaiian vibes. Based on our visit, Hawaiian shirts are highly encouraged.
Kohola Brewery is smaller than Maui Brewing, and its location is certainly less picturesque, but that doesn’t mean the beer is any less delicious. Located in an old warehouse in Lahaina, Kohola is churning out excellent stuff, including a Great American Beer Festival bronze-winning pilsner as well as a traditional pale ale called Talk Story that was just right for sipping on the beach. If you get a rainy day it is worth it to visit the brewery and try a few. If you’re blessed with only sunshine grab some to go at the brewery, or the closest grocery or liquor store, and get outside.
Mama’s Fish House
This legendary Maui establishment is known for its stunning view and ridiculously fresh, local fish as well as some sky-high prices. That shouldn’t stop you from finding a seat at one of the bars and ordering any number of local beers from Maui Brewing, Kohola or Lanikai brewing while admiring the scenery. If you’re going to go for the full dining experience, request a table by the window and enjoy fish caught that morning with some beer canned a few days earlier. It doesn’t get any fresher, and the ocean is so close you’ll forget you’re inside.
The Mill House
The Mill House is located on an old sugar plantation that brings jaw-dropping views of its own, these more of the Jurassic Park mountainous, jungle variety. The bar here is beautiful--made of polished wood and usually there is a breeze blowing through open doors to remind you that you’re on an island. The cocktails are fantastic and the beer list is one of the more extensive in Maui.
Organized by style you can find all of the local favorites (Maui, Kohola, Big Island Brewhaus) as well as West Coast classics like Sierra Nevada, Stone and Firestone Walker as well as some options from Japan and Europe (Nippon Beer Company, Orval). When you need a break from the beach and are looking for a beer you can’t do better than the Mill House.
Bonus: The Beach!
Seriously! Maui has gorgeous beaches all over the place. You’ll be driving to one beach, and then breeze past a bunch of others you’ll want to stop at. Snag a six-pack of your favorite, pull over and find an uncrowded spot. You’re likely to see surfers, boogie-boarders, or even whales breaching from the shore. Whatever you drink is going to taste great, but we’re partial to the Kohola Talk Story pale ale.