The Spirits of Maui

Hidden away from Maui’s endless beaches, hiking trails, waterfalls, tourist attractions, restaurants, golf courses and storefronts is a unique area of the island known as “upcountry,” where livestock and agriculture take top billing over surfing and snorkeling.

Just off the Kula Highway and just minutes from the Surfing Goat Dairy – also another worthwhile and delicious stop – is a somewhat unknown Hawaiian destination worth a visit.

Photo by Jessica Pearl courtesy of Ocean Vodka

Ocean Vodka Farm is an organic farm and liquor distillery that perched high enough to offer an elevated panoramic view of the Pacific on both the west and east sides of the island, high above the isthmus that separates the two volcanic masses that form Maui. It’s also the home of Ocean Organic Vodka and Deep Island Hawaiian Rum.

After many trips to Maui, I finally took the distillery tour last summer. Known for its unique artistic spherical bottle, Ocean Vodka is the only vodka made from organic sugar cane grown in the farms that surround the small distillery. The sugar cane-based mash is blended with deep ocean mineral water sourced 3,000 feet deep off the Kona coast of the island of Hawaii.

Photo by Jessica Pearl courtesy of Ocean Vodka

While sugar cane farms are disappearing on Maui the same way that citrus groves vanished throughout the Inland Empire, the 80-acre organic farm still offers one of the largest selections of sugar cane varieties in the world. There is plenty to support international distribution of Ocean Vodka, as well as Deep Island Hawaiian Rum. Also blended with deep ocean mineral water, the rum is enjoyable by itself or in any number of tropical cocktails.

Between shopping and sight seeing, an escape to upcountry is no more than an hour’s drive from most of the island’s beach resorts. It’s also a convenient detour on the way back from sunrise at the Haleakalā volcano, and likely one of our destinations when this blog posts.

If a road trip isn’t in your plans next time you’re on Maui, then fear not. Ocean Vodka and Deep Island Hawaiian Rum are both available at stores around the Hawaiian Islands and at many locations on the mainland.

January Beer and Wine Events

It’s a new year with plenty of great places to visit for wine tasting, beer festivals, tap takeovers and more. Check out some of the activities taking place around the Inland Empire on my monthly listing of beer and wine events on IEShineOn.com.

The Father of Our Country was a Mixologist

Egg Nog has always been a holiday tradition, but it’s always been the store-bought variety that makes its way to most homes. A couple of years ago my friends Dana and James Pike mentioned a special home-made version that most definitely packs a wallop. The recipe comes from none other than our first president, George Washington himself. The Father of Our Country was indeed a mixologist. While you can easily find the recipe online, we’ve posted it at IEShineOn.com as our Cocktail of the Month for December
, along with a few other holiday delights. Cheers!

 

December Beer and Wine Events

ieshineon-inland-empire-december-beer-and-wine-events-guide-673The holidays bring plenty of opportunities to sample adult beverages. We’ve got your guide to the Inland Empire’s beer and wine events during December at IEShineOn.com. We’ll cover New Year’s Eve in an upcoming post. Cheers!

 

Rancho Cucamonga Beer Company Making A Name With New Belgian-Style Lager

charlies-beer

The Inland Empire’s newest local beer isn’t local at all. In fact, there’s no local brewery, but the company is based in Rancho Cucamonga.

Charlie’s Premium Lager is a smooth golden lager brewed in Belgium with distinct qualities of a Belgian beer, but made specifically to appeal to United States tastes.

“We are at the beginning of a great journey with Charlie’s,” says Marlies Christopoulos, president and CEO of The Charlie’s Beer Company USA. “My vision is to have Charlie’s available to enjoy for anyone, everywhere in the U.S. and to become one of the most popular and well known beer brands in the U.S.”

Christopoulos says the beer is made with a brewing heritage dating back centuries, but has less of the obvious “banana” or fruity esters taste often associated with Belgian-style b
eers. It’s also light and easy drinking at 5 percent ABV without the bitter aftertaste found in many popular craft beers.

Sold in four-packs of 16.9-ounce cans, Charlie’s Lager is now available at all California Total Wines and More stores, along with both Bev Mo stores in Upland and Craft Beer Cellar in Torrance.

November Beer and Wine Events

 

ieshineon-inland-empire-november-beer-and-wine-events-guide-673With November comes the start of the holiday season, beginning with our nation’s observance of Veterans Day on Nov. 11 and the long Thanksgiving weekend on Nov. 24-27. Annual releases of big beers, along with a host of other events, fill our November calendar. Cheers!

We’ve got your November guide at IEShineOn.com. And always remember to drink responsibly and designate a driver.