No one company is an island, to paraphrase the John Donne classic poem. But in Hawaii, one brewery is making a splash across the sun-swept island state. The Maui Brewing Company started out as a small, seven-barrel brew pub in 2005, making their own island blends of beer and serving them to the customers that walked through their door. Their focus was on brewing beer that represented the local agriculture. For example, their flavours included citrus, mango, pineapple and coconut, giving their pub patrons a true taste of the islands. In 2005, the brewpub produced 320 barrels of beer. Fast-forward to 2017 and the Maui Brewing Company is on their second production/distribution facility location (outgrowing their first one) and is pumping out about 50,000 barrels of their unique beers annually. Spotlight on Business spoke with Garrett Marrero, co-owner and founder of the Maui Brewing Company, about their own authentic approach to brewing beer in such a unique location.

By John Allaire I n 2007 we opened up our first production facility where we started canning, and doing retail beer. That was beer-to- go as well as wholesale retailing and distribu- tion.” Marrero is quick to point out that they were early adopters of “craft in cans” , being one of only 10 craft brew- eries in the US at the time that was producing and selling their products in cans. It’s a common misconception that bottles are the more environmentally friendly vessel. It may have once been the case, but the metal from the local- ly-produced cans is 100% recyclable, unlike glass, which is often broken up and used in other products at a lesser recy- clable rate. It’s all about a smaller carbon footprint. Local production means a shorter shipping profile. CO2 recovery systems are on the horizon as well. This will help the com- pany’s bottom line, as recovery of 100% of their CO2 emis- sions allows their production facility to convert waste back into their own production process, eventually eliminating the need to buy from external sources. This all points to Maui’s commitment to sustainability. And not just within the products they produce. Their focus is on the big picture. They are working toward being “grid inde- pendent” in the near future. “You know the Jack Johnson song “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle?”? That’s really our mantra here. Especially on an island with limited resources, limited access to recycling and disposal, etc. We want to consume as little as possible and be as efficient as possible. Then, layer on top of that, renewable energy and cutting water use, etc. As we’ve grown as a company, we have developed

a deeper and deeper commitment to sustainability.”

Maui Brewing Company has hit the ground running in the mainland as well. They are currently distributing to 23 states within the US, and 10 countries around the world. And they are looking to pass ‘Aloha’ even further. “We have really put Hawaii on the map when it comes to craft beer,” Marrero proudly asserts. “We are primarily focused on the West Coast in the US. The closer we are to home, the better. We still sell about 75% of our beer in Hawaii. So our focus is really still our home market.” However, their sights do wander over to the global market on occasion. Currently they are sending quantities to Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, a few countries in South America, (boasting impressive sales numbers from Chile, in particular) , and they are considering distributing to China. This is more of a function of bringing their beer to countries and states where Hawaii tourists can enjoy their product once returning from vacation, and less a search for new primary markets. Above all, distribution plans outside of Hawaii have to make economic sense before the Maui products leave the plant. Moreover, dollars and cents occupy merely one segment of their philosophy regarding distribution to communities and cultures outside of their island home. “When we do venture out to the other states and countries, it’s based on, ‘do they have a good craft beer scene?’, and do we have a kinship with the culture or the community, whether it be through



craft beer or with Hawaii?’. We really do like to shine the light on the really cool things that are happening in Hawaii in both the food and beverage scenes.” Their restaurants also play a role as a yardstick for measuring the popularity and viability of their brews. Their original pub in Lahaina, Maui is still a going concern; they have recently opened a new restaurant inWaikiki, Oahu. Their plans to open two further locations, a second one on Maui at the brewery and another on Oahu, are in full swing. Marrero explains that they get just as psyched over opening restaurants as they do with producing their beverages for distribution. “We’re excited to grow both on the beverage production side, but also on the restaurant and food side as well. It’s nice to partner the beer with a service capability. As fans of craft beer, we want to have the opportunity to talk to them directly. Having the restaurants allows us to do just that.” “We’ve really put Hawaii on the map when it comes to craft beer.” So which came first? There is a popular trend amongst craft brewers and distillers to cross-pollinate and open restaurants that feature their products. Just as common, it seems, are the pubs that throw some tanks in the basement and start brewing their own concoctions to sell up in their restaurants. But Marrero states without hesitation that his goal has always been to brew good, unique beer. “Yeah, we wanted to brew beer. In Hawaii at the time, the term ‘craft beer’ didn’t even exist until we started using it. Back then there was ‘big beer’, ‘micro beer’ and ‘local beer.’. And the local beer was being brewed in the mainland. So it was that flaw that we sought to expose and create an authen- tic local brand.” Realizing their strengths and partnering in areas where experience may be lacking was important for the company to move into the direct-serving industry. “By default, because of our success, the restaurants made sense for us. We have some great partners that operate our restaurants. We’re really proud of our entire team, both on the restaurant and the brewing sides.” For Maui Brewing Company, success means having the con- fidence in their unique beers to share a sense of community with other producers. They are anything but insular when it comes to their customer experience. “We usually have a few guest beers on tap in our restaurant. Frankly, they don’t move as quickly, typically, because visitors and resi- dents alike, when they have an opportunity to drink a cold, new local beer, that’s usually where they gravitate. Espe- cially visitors, when they’re coming from, say Colorado or California, they’ll try beers that they can’t get back home.” And Marrero will proudly stack his beer up alongside some of the better- known mainland beers. In fact, he encourages visitors to taste-test the difference. “When we have those guest beers on tap, it becomes a symbol of quality for us because they may know that beer really well from back home. Then when they taste it up

against our beer of the same category, they’ll realize that we make some pretty damn good beer!”

Peers and awarding bodies tend to agree. The family business (Marrero’s wife, Melanie Oxley, is a co-found- er) took top honours recently as the 2017 National Small Business Person(s) of the Year. The award from the U.S. Small Business Administration recognized the husband-and- wife team for transforming their business into the largest craft beer company in Hawaii. After being informed of the nom- ination, Marrero hopped on an airplane and represented Hawaii at the awards in Washington D.C. He described the adventure, and the eventual win, as a “humbling and amazing experience.”. While national awards and recognition within the industry are satisfying, Maui Brewing Company makes sure that the home fires keep burning. They have a “Draft Van” — basically a fun custom party wagon full of kegs and externally-mounted taps — that allows them to keep a strong remote-location commu- nity presence. “I custom-built the Draft Van myself! It’s always fun to take a drill to your new Mercedes van!” laughs Marrero. The van has 10 taps and a 20-keg capacity, which is ideal for corporate and community events, including fundraisers for the Cancer Foundation and the Boys and Girls Club. It enables them tomaintain quality beer service at events out in the com- munity, with minimal set-up and break-down time, ensuring that their philanthropic endeavours are sustainable. With all the irons in the fire, Marrero speaks with enthusi- asm about where the company began and where he sees it going down the road. “We started with around 30 people in 2005, and we have just over 400 employees today.” And despite winning awards, the brewing company is deter- mined to make ‘great’ even better. “As we’ve grown as a company, we have developed a deeper and deeper commitment to sustainability.” “We don’t believe in resting on our laurels. We believe that a gold-medal beer can be even better.” Their plan includes continuing on with their success in the food services industry as well. By the end of 2018, all four of their restaurants will be in full operation. And as if beer and food isn’t enough, their future plans include adding a distillery element to their pro- duction portfolio. “We are going to start making spirits, driven by local agriculture, along with making natural-crafted sodas.” Asked if they are ever tempted to open up a business in the mainland, Marrero says it isn’t something they ever really talk about. “We’re a company based in Hawaii. We love the other markets we’re in and we love to spread ‘Aloha’, if you will. But our focus is our home.” With such a beautiful locale, it’s little wonder they aren’t enticed to stray. Make a trip to one of the Maui Brewing Company’s pubs on your next trip to Hawaii and enjoy their locally-produced tastes! Aloha!


KIHEI 605 Lipoa Pkwy

Kihei, Maui, HI, 96753 Phone: (808) 213-3002 PUBS LAHAINA Kahana Gateway Center 4405 Honoapiilani Hwy Lahaina, Maui, HI, 96761 Phone: (808) 669-3474

WAIKIKI Holiday Inn Resort Waikiki Beachcomber 2300 Kalakaua Ave Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96815 Phone: (808) 843-BREW (2739)

as spotlighted in the OCTOBER 2017 issue of SPOTLIGHT ON BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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