Visit a Brewery or Try Banana Wine
After another day of hiking, we decided to spend our afternoon on a brewery tour at Matutu Brewery followed by Banana Wine tasting at Koteka Winery. Matutu offers two tours, one at 12:00 PM and one at 1:00 PM. We chose the 1:00 PM tour so that we could grab lunch before making our way across the island.
During the tour, we learned that Matutu is one of two breweries on the island. They are locally owned by two friends who started the brewery in 2006. All of their beers are handcrafted. Literally. The grains used for each batch are manually carried up a ladder and dropped into a chute where they are then stirred by hand in a vat below. When the brew is done, each bottle is hand-filled and capped in a 0 degree chiller and then hand delivered across the island.
They currently have three different brews: Kiva (a english-style pale ale), Mai (an authentic lager), and Maeva (an IPA). We were able to sample all three of their beers and spent time chatting and asking questions. We loved that this brewery makes their products with sustainable practices, adds no preservatives, and hand crafts everything. We found ourselves wanting to support them, and although they do not export their beers, we purchased a few to drink on our last few days on the island.
We would highly recommend scheduling a tour here and supporting this brewery. It is clear that they take pride in their history, their products, and the people that enjoy them. If nothing else, find one of their beers while on the island and support them. Cheers!
Our next stop on our beer/winery tour was to Koteka winery. We drove down the road and found a sign advertising the infamous banana wine and directing the way to the winery. When we pulled up, we realized that we weren’t at a business, but rather at someone’s house. Were we at the right place? Upon further investigation, we found an “open” sign next to one advertising the products: local vanilla bean extract, paste, vodka.
We knocked on the door and Koteka guided us inside to an area where there were alcohol bottles of various sizes, some labeled, some not. He immediately started pouring us shot sized portions of banana wine and vodka and then gave us a brief description of how vanilla extract is made with tastes of this as well. If you’ve ever heard the old adage, “that’ll put hair on your chest!”, this would be the perfect time to use that saying. The vodka and wine were very strong! At this point, we were purely entertained by the scenery and the show that was unfolding in front of us. Luckily, the party didn’t stop here! Next, we were given shots of chili vodka and cocoa beans to chew on. He then had us wash this down with banana water.
There were two other people from our brewery enjoying this experience with us and although they walked away with a bottle of chili wine, we decided to walk away with lots of laughs and a mind full of confusion about what we just experienced. We recommend adding this to your Cook Islands adventure list even if it’s just for the pure entertainment. Cost $5 for 5 samples and an extra $1 to try a cocoa bean.