Sometimes, you look at a business and just say to yourself "what the hell are they thinking?". For example, the Orkney Islands host two breweries. The climate on Orkney must be something special to lure two breweries there, given that they have to import all the ingredients to make the beer, bar the water, which I'm told is plentiful. And then they have to freight the majority of the beer back to the mainland for it to be sold. Mental, I tells ya.
Orkney is about 10 miles off the coast of the Scotland. Maui, one of the islands that makes up the 1500 mile long Hawaiian archipelago, is 750 miles from mainland USA. One has to question why Garrett Marrero decided to found Maui Brewing Co there. I mean, why on earth would you want to live in a blue-oceaned, sun-beaten paradise, making craft beer (in the American sense)?
It would be easy to paint the whole thing as some slacker "Aloha, whoah, surf's up dude" idyll, were it not for the fact that you don't make good beer without putting in a lot of hard work. And that hard work is evident in the beer.
The beer that perhaps most people will be initially drawn to, Big Swell IPA, is a really solid IPA - think Odell IPA, in terms of that classy Anglo-American crossover, where malt and hops actually work together to produce a rounded, integrated whole. Slightly more off the wall, but showcasing a local ingredient (at least, I'm assuming they use Hawaiian coconuts rather than importing them from the Maldives, although given the island brewer mentality, nothing would surprise me), is their Coconut Porter, which really does taste faintly of coconut, and is a pretty damn special porter to boot. Smooth, silky and slightly unctuous, with a heap of mocha flavours. Aces.
Not simply off the wall, but actually packing a bag and leaving for a long holiday from any semblance of sense is the Mana Pineapple Wheat. When I tweeted about this beer, someone mentioned that they thought it smelled and tasted like urinal pucks. All I can say is that it doesn't, it tastes like a wheat beer with pineapple in it, which is to say a completely bonkers riot of fruit and spice. I liked it, but I can see why others might not, because it treads the tightrope of being fun, and some people think that anything fun shouldn't be taken seriously. Which is a shame, because we can all use a little fun once in a while.