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Brew Blog: Maui Brewing Co. Coconut Porter

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My sisters in law are in Maui this week. They're vegetarians. And teetotalers. And afraid of foods with weird names. I have no doubt they're doing it wrong.

They wanted us to go with them, but I didn't have $10,000 to spend on a tropical vacation. I did, however, have $10 or so for a four-pack of Maui Brewing Company Coconut Porter. Living the dream, baby.

"Like hot chicks on the beach" is how this beer describes itself, and I'm not entirely sure what they're getting at. My assumption is that it's a reference to tanning oil, calling to mind the chemical sweetness of flesh primed for ultra violet radiation. Nothing says sexy (or refreshment!) like oxybenzone and the promise of squamous-cell carcinoma!

Fortunately, the beer isn't quite so brash as its slogan indicates. In fact, the coconut elements are very restrained, supporting rather than defining the flavor and aroma. While some might find a bit of false advertising in the can's promise, I think the beer finds a good balance between delivering on the coconut front, yet not devolving into over-saturated flavor kitsch.

This beer pours nice and dark, with just a bit of red tinting around the edges. A fluffy head recedes rather quickly, leaving a sudsy film to crown the beer, subtle lacing chasing it down the glass. The aromas focus on coffee and various roasted notes, with vanilla highlights and some slightly nutty nuances.

This is a light and easy drinking porter, making me think that the can's talk of beaches isn't that far off the mark, after all. I could see nursing a glass while swinging in a coconut tree-strung hammock, the gentle sound of surf rolling in the background. Coffee is foremost, again, though it comes in very smooth and mild form. Dark red fruit notes add an unexpected brightness, like ripe currants. The coconut character is very faint, tasting almost more like cashew, and only appearing with any assertiveness in the finish. As the beer warms, the coffee fades out a bit, leaving vanilla and fruit to take over, buoyed by the nutty and toasty background.

Overall, the beer does play with some tropical tastes, they just don't scream coconut. I, for one, think that's a good thing. If you feel like you're being cheated, take a cue from the can. I'm sure it would taste pretty good, in a nutshell. Either way, it's certainly helping me forget that everyone else is in Hawaii right now. Damn it.

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