On vacation in Maui this week, I had a chance to try a great local Hawaiian beer, Bikini Blonde, from Maui Brewing Co. Anytime I get a chance to travel to a different place, I always attempt to try at least one local beer. When I walked into the grocery store in Maui, I was impressed by the number of different Hawaiian craft brews that were out there. I skipped the Kona (great stuff, but I can buy it in Wisconsin) and grabbed a six-pack of MBC’s Bikini Blonde–and I’m very happy with my choice.
The first thing that I appreciated was that Bikini Blonde comes in cans. Now, I’m someone who almost always grabs a bottle over a can, but the signs I saw on the beach prohibited glass bottles but not alcohol in general, so the can came in handy. Despite being a lager, Bikini Blonde did not have a “tinny” taste from the can, which is hard to do for a lighter brew. I found the beer to be crisp and refreshing with a little tang from a hint of citrus–the perfect complement to time on the beach. The malt gives the beer a hint of sweetness, and the hops and citrus give it a slightly bitter aftertaste that doesn’t stay with you for too long. The taste isn’t overly complex, but it doesn’t need to be–this beer is made for warm weather and time spent among friends. The aroma is similar to other lagers with the maltiness giving it a nice smell. When poured, Bikini Blonde is a beautiful golden color with a white head and bubbles throughout. Bikini Blonde also packs a bit of a punch with an ABV of 5.2%, higher than I’ve seen in many lagers.
One of the things I like most about writing this beer of the week post (in addition to getting to try a new beer) is learning about the brewery. These small craft breweries all have neat histories, and Maui Brewing Co. is no different. Garrett Marrero started Maui Brewing Co. in 2005, and it has since grown to be the largest craft brewery in the state of Hawaii. That hasn’t come without challenges though. In an interview with Maui Now, Marrero explains that Hawaii has a liquor tax ten times the national average, and due to its location, has the highest energy, CO2, and employment costs in the United States.
Despite those obstacles, Maui Brewing Co. continues to expand its reach, having struck a deal this past summer to distribute in Ohio and Indiana, and MBC is currently working on opening a new brewpub on busy Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii’s capital and largest city. Here’s hoping they find their way to Wisconsin, because just as Bikini Blonde is the perfect beer for a Hawaiian beach, its taste would do just fine on a Wisconsin lake.
Aroma – 8/10
Appearance – 9/10
Taste – 8/10
Palate – 8/10
Overall – 33/40
Beer Stats – 5.2% ABV, IBU 18
Edit 1/9 – Maui Brewing Co. told me on Twitter that they will begin distribution in Wisconsin in summer 2017. Great news!