Combining a passion for supporting local agriculture and producing innovative beers, the latest round of Maui Brewing Co.'s seasonal canned brews showcases Maui-grown breadfruit as its star ingredient.
"We like to create really special beers, and twist the mind about what beer is and what it can be," said Maui Brewing Co. co-founder Garrett Marrero.
"Dogfish Head has similar founding principals," he said of his buddy Sam Calagione's Delaware brewery, which collaborated on the "Liquid Breadfruit" ale.
A six-pack of golden ale made with breadfruit called “Liquid Breadfruit,” a play on beer’s nickname, “Liquid Bread,” sits underneath cans of CoCoNut PorTer.
What started out as a side project between the friends ended up as Maui Brewing Co.'s third seasonal release this year.
Somewhere between 400 and 500 barrels have been brewed, with 4,300 cases slated for cans and the difference available on tap at the company's Kahana brew pub.
The six-packs - with green cans resembling the color of young breadfruit skin - hit shelves statewide last month, and a limited quantity has been sent out to markets in the 10 other states Maui Brewing Co. serves.
The fruity and spicy golden ale is light in color, but packs a punch with 8.2 percent alcohol content.
"It's very smooth. You down a couple of these, and you'll quickly feel it," Marrero said.
He said in all, 3,000 pounds of breadfruit, or ulu, was used for the brew, the majority of it from the National Tropical Botanical Garden's Breadfruit Institute collection of trees at Kahanu Gardens in Hana. Eleven pounds of tiny papaya seeds was also "painstakingly" harvested locally and toasted for the concoction.
"The more I learned about breadfruit, the more fascinated I became with it - its versatility and nutritional value," Marrero said. "Culturally, it's well known, but you don't see it on menus and in stores. We need a lot more breadfruit planted, and we'll be donating a portion of the sales to the Breadfruit Institute in Hana to further their efforts."
The breadfruit - a large, starchy fruit that sweetens and ferments as it ripens - was used in two stages.
"The starchy, hard fruit was used up front and treated as malted barley," he said. "Once it became doughy and sugary, we used that portion in the kettle."
Marrero said that the project was by far his most difficult undertaking to date.
"It was not at all cheap to make it, but it was absolutely worth it," he said. "It's difficult to brew that style in that quantity."
The costly brew is reflected in the price tag at stores, where the six-packs are selling for between $14 and $18.
Locally, the beers are available at stores that carry Maui Brewing Co.'s other canned beers, including Whole Foods, Safeway, Aloha Discount Liquor and Hawaii Liquor Superstore.
Marrero said that sales have been brisk, and he expects Liquid Breadfruit will only be available in stores through mid-January before selling out.
"Our seasonal releases, once they rotate out, they're gone," he said. "We have so much we want to do style-wise that we tend to rotate through and not repeat these. But I could see, maybe in 2015, bringing back some the favorites."
This spring, the company released La Perouse White, a Belgian inspired witbier spiced with coriander and local mandarin oranges from Kula. In the summer, it released Sobrehumano Palenaole, a lilikoi and cherry red ale.
* Nanea Kalani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.