Maui’s Koholā Brewery is the Latest Brewery to Enter the Local Craft-Beer Scene
A new microbrewery opens in Lahaina.
In December, Koholā Brewery took over the former brewhouse of Maui Brewing Co. in Lahaina. It specializes in easy-to-drink craft beers.
Photos: Courtesy of Koholā Brewery
On a trip to England and Belgium four years ago, Christine and Ian Elumba discovered something that would change their lives: craft beer.
Long story short, it led them to move to Maui, partner with friends William and Christine Ramirez, purchase Maui Brewing Co.’s old facility in Lahaina and spend eight months retrofitting and upgrading the 25-barrel brewhouse. The group opened its microbrewery in late December, the day after getting a liquor license.
Koholā Brewing opened with six beers, most of them concocted by head brewer Justin Brouhard. (Interestingly, the most popular of the brews right now, 88 Light RyePa, was created by Brouhard’s wife, Brittany.) The focus is on quality, easy, smooth-drinking beers. The beers on tap right now include the Talk Story, a classic American IPA; the malty Lōkahi German Pilsner; the medium-bodied Hānā Road Wheat; the Smooth Tide, an American amber ale; and the Red Sand, Koholā’s version of an Irish Red ale.
“We use the highest-quality ingredients and pay special attention to the quality of our finished product,” says Brittany Brouhard, who handles marketing and social media for the brewery. “We produce beers that are easy-drinking, approachable, and we design them to be drunk comfortably in the climate of Maui ... We plan to experiment with beers that are not as common in Hawai‘i, such as barrel-aged beers and sours, as well as using local ingredients.”
A flight of Koholā Brewery’s craft beers, which can be sampled at its on-site tasting room.
Right now, Koholā (which means humpback whale in Hawaiian) is an on-premise brewery, which means, for now, it can fill kegs for big parties, 64-ounce growlers for smaller get-togethers and sell beer directly to retail customers. You can also find Koholā’s brews in a dozen restaurants and bars on Maui, including Merriman’s Kapalua, Andaz Maui at the Wailea Resort and What Ales You Taphouse.
There’s a casual, 1,200-square-foot tasting room, with tables topped with chess boards and Jenga towers. As the brewery grows, it plans to add tours and sampling classes. Eventually, the company wants to bottle its brews and get them to the other islands, but there’s no set date yet. Right now, the focus is one keg distribution within Maui, Brouhard says.
“What makes craft beer unique in Hawai‘i is that we pay a lot more in expenses to brew beer here as opposed to the Mainland, yet we maintain a similar price point,” Brouhard says. “The microbrew culture here is just beginning to appreciate craft beer—and it’s growing.”
Koholā Brewery, 910 Honoapi‘ilani Highway, Suite 55, Lahaina. Noon to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and noon to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. (808) 269-7975, koholabrewery.com.