Story by Becky Speere
In October of 2016, Carrie Adelmann, the tasting-room manager at Maui Brewing Company, told me excitedly that she and her husband, David, were starting a new business venture: Maui Craft Tours. I was as delighted as she. I’d taken the Heineken Brewery tour and tasting in Belgium, tasted wines in Napa and sake in Japan, and toured my way through whiskey distilleries in Virginia and South Carolina.
I’ve ridden in Carrie’s van twice since then. Here’s my latest fun run.
A Taste of Upcountry
“No, we’re not learning how to make handcrafted items on this tour,” Moose says, answering the unspoken question.
Our fivesome has gathered at The Mill House Roastery at Maui Tropical Plantation, the first stop in a Taste of Upcountry, one of four Maui Craft Tours excursions. Moose (real name Ryan Gross) is figuratively in the driver’s seat, explaining that we’re about to set off on a journey to island businesses that are making their stamp on Maui with a calabash of local agriculture. Handcrafting is what these companies do; the term has come to exemplify a movement toward local sourcing and responsible, sustainable and earth-friendly practices.
Our tour begins with a tasting of Hawai‘i-grown coffees at The Mill House. I wrap my hands around a mug of Maui-blend coffee. I may be a little biased in thinking the best coffee is found on our little island, but I’m not totally off-base. Maui coffee has placed in Hawaii Coffee Association competitions for the last nine years, and in 2017, Olinda Organic Coffee, from Maui’s Upcountry region, won first place in the statewide coffee cupping.
Soon Moose is literally in the driver’s seat as we climb into the van and head up winding ‘Ōma‘opio Road. We arrive twenty minutes later at Surfing Goat Dairy. I owned a pet goat myself when I was seven, and the dairy opens a floodgate of happy “Nanny the Goat” memories. We debark the van, and the clang of a cowbell invites us on a tour of the farm. Jaelyn Kekiwi guides us up the dusty path to a herd nestled under shady haole koa trees on the hillside. I don’t see any cute Nigerian dwarf goats, but larger breeds—Saanens, Lamancha and French Alpine—preen and loll under brush, well fed and sleepy in the warm weather. Further along the path, we encounter a Saanens buck straight out of The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Jaelyn says, “He can service eighty doe, and actually, the doe are only a few weeks from birthing.” She tells us that during peak milk production—after giving birth—each doe can produce up to a gallon a day. “If you come back in March, there will be lots of cute baby goats everywhere.”