Staying Crafty: How Maui Brewing Co. Expands its Reach While Staying Local

The Hale ‘Aina Gold winner for Best Beer Program distributes its beers to 23 states and nearly a dozen countries.


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Garrett Marrero

GARRETT MARRERO, who with his wife, Melanie, owns Maui Brewing Co., in its Kīhei brewing facility
photos: courtesy of maui brewing co.

 

Sitting on the lānai of the Maui Brewing Co. in Waikīkī, sipping on a cold Big Swell IPA on a sunny Saturday afternoon just seemed like a natural fit.

 

The Kīhei-based brewery opened last January in a sprawling, 18,000-square-foot space on the second floor of the Waikīkī Beachcomber on O‘ahu. Its beer program, which earned our Hale ‘Aina Gold Award this year, is deep, offering the company’s most popular brews—Bikini Blonde Lager, Big Swell IPA—along with 16 limited and seasonal flavors, including the Lemongrass Saison, Pau Hana Pilsner and the popular POG IPA. It also serves what it calls “Comrade Crafts”—brews from other local breweries including Big Island Brewhaus, Lanikai Brewing Co. and Honolulu Beerworks—and more than a dozen craft cocktails.

 

Maui Brewing Co. is planning to open two more pubs soon: adding a restaurant at its Kīhei facility and building a new location in Kailua on O‘ahu, slated to open this fall.

 

And later this year, the company plans to start distilling spirits and expand its line of craft sodas. (It already produces a root beer brewed with organic cane sugar, local honey and Hawai‘i Island-grown vanilla.) It’s also expanding its brewery by 30,000 square feet to add more dry and cold storage and create more roof space for solar panels.

 

Maui Brewing Co.

maui brewing co.’s production facility in Kīhei

 

“First and foremost, when we created our company, the idea was to brew an authentic Hawaiian craft beer that was world class,” says Garrett Marrero, who owns and operates the company with his wife, Melanie. “We didn’t want to make a beer in Hawai‘i that sucked, but hey, it was made here. We wanted to make the best possible beer period, with a nod to the community, a nod to local agriculture. That’s why it resonates. It’s us and a team of 400 people striving to keep this beer authentic.”

 

The couple moved to Maui and invested nearly all of their money into starting Maui Brewing Co., which launched in 2005. At the time, craft beer wasn’t part of the bar vernacular and there were only a handful of other beers being brewed locally, including Kona Brewing Co., which also brews at Mainland locations. Since then, other breweries opened across the state, including Honolulu Beerworks, Waikīkī Brewing Co., Lanikai Brewing Co. and Aloha Beer Co. These companies have not only created healthy competition but fostered savvier beer drinkers who’ve put down their green bottles and started searching for high-quality brews and unusual flavors.

 

“We wanted to make the best possible beer period.”
—Garrett Marrero, co-owner, Maui Brewing Co.

 

“We were part of helping beer grow in Hawai‘i,” Garrett says. “We’re proud that O‘ahu has become the beer city we knew it had potential to be. And we’re happy to be part of that.”

 

Over the years, Maui Brewing Co. has produced interesting suds, including a Saint Damien Belgium beer aged in a pinot noir barrel—Garrett’s favorite—and one using Maui onions for a recent Maui Onion Festival. There are plans to experiment with sour brews, too.

 

Maui Brewing Co.

Today, Maui Brewing Co. distributes its beers to 23 states and nearly a dozen countries.

 

“We can’t be all things to all people, but we have to be ourselves,” Garrett says. “And we think there are people out there like us, [who] like what we stand for, and like what we brew.”

 

Today, the company distributes its beers to 23 states and nearly a dozen countries, though the couple has remained focused on the Islands. Nearly 75 percent of the beer produced stays in Hawai‘i.

 

“This will always be our primary market,” Garrett says. “It’s important to us that we always have beer available here.”

 

The Marreros’ commitment to local is evident in the menu at its restaurants: Kahuku-grown sea asparagus for the ‘ahi poke tacos; Maui-raised, grass-fed beef for the sliders; patties made from Kaua‘i bison for the loco moco; local eggs in the shakshuka; and locally grown fruits and vegetables everywhere.

 

“We want to be that neighborhood pub,” Melanie says.

 

Maui Brewing Co., multiple locations, mauibrewingco.com

 

READ MORE STORIES BY CATHERINE TOTH FOX

 

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