Having a beer is a big part of enjoying the warm days and nights in Maui and if you are a craft beer fan like myself you quickly find yourself heading to the nearest grocery store to stock up as soon as you leave the airport. Question is what can you expect in choice and where are the best places to find good beer?
I suggest buying your beer at the same grocery store you are going to pick up your papayas and Maui potato chips. The main stores are Safeway, Times and Foodland. Not a huge difference in price and selection though the discerning beer shopping will spot some deals in the beer aisle.
Case in point; Foodland in Kihei had a clearance on Gordon Biersch mixed packs that included the winter lager for $10.99 a 12 pack. Great deal in any US state and every beer tasted fine even though it was bottled in October 2011.
Times had the Harvest Mixed pack from for $13.99 which was in August 2011 so that is older beer for more money. Some distributor is trying to offload GB in Maui but smart shopping would have got you a great buy ( I loved the Blonde Bock in the evening).
Most of the craft beers you will find in the 3 grocery stores mentioned are the 3 Hawaii breweries ( Kona, Maui brewing and Mehana) plus Deschutes, Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada plus some Widmer and Pyramid. Don’t expect to see Stone or Dogfish head though I saw Rogue and Anchor Steam. Six packs are in the $7.99 to $10.99 range which for Canadians is nicely priced.
There is a good beer selection in Paia in the small beer and wine store near the gas station. It seems to open at around noon but it sells beer in singles and had an interesting selection including Mad River ( I picked up the 2010 Barley Wine for about $3.50 a bottle),Anderson Valley and Mendocino . They also had some Belgium and British beers but nothing outstanding.
Whole Foods in Kahului near the airport has the best selection of beer but be prepared to pay for it. They had lots of Ballast Point but the sixers were about $15 and Sculpin was $10 a bottle. Almost Canadian pricing for their beers outside of the usual ones found in all the supermarkets. I did find a Rogue IPA that was $5 a bomber made especially for Hawaii.
Beer in restaurants and bars is usually from Kona Brewing with cans of Maui brewing beer available. Happy hour is a good time to have a pint and prices range from $3 to $4.50 during that time. The Kona Pale Ale tastes a lot like Sierra Nevada and was my go to beer.
Maui Brewing Company is the only true local brewer and they have a brewpub in Lahaina and a production facility with a tasting room at 910 Honoapiilani Highway #55 Lahaina. I found a good selection beers ranging from light blonde ales to big Imperial stouts. Taster sets are available and a good way to try their lineup. The La Perrouse Wit had just come our in cans but I only found it in Whole Foods and I highly recommend it as a great beach beer.
Lastly I would give up any thoughts of finding rare beers or any crazy limited releases and just enjoy good beer in a true paradise.