We spoke with Garrett Marrero, co-owner and founder of the Maui Brewing Company about a brand that was started as a passion to create an authentic beer for Hawaii and now sodas and spirits that would pay homage to land and its residences that are making waves from the sun-swept island state to the mainland of the U.S. given customers a true taste of the islands.
Marrero takes on a journey from the company’s beginnings as a brewpub in 2005, fast-forward to 2019 where Maui Brewing Company has four amazing restaurants, a brand-new brewery and a team of over 800, which all started from a trip to the Maui.
It’s hard to fathom that a vacation to the Islands began Garrett Marrero’s journey with Maui Brewing Company.
The hotspot celebrated 14 years open at the end of January, and owner Marrero’s simple concept of authentic, homemade craft beer has been pleasing locals for years.
“I grew up in San Diego and took a trip to Maui in the early 2000s. I learned their local beer was made in Portland, and I felt a drive to get them their own beer,” he said. “I loved Maui as a place, and I wanted to make the move. The authentic beer would have been a way to pay homage to the land.”
Marrero fell in love when he caught a glimpse of the mountains at baggage claim in Hawaii, and his dream drew him to the island full-time.
He moved in December 2004, and Maui Brewing was open by January 2005. He purchased a flailing brewpub and opened up.
“I looked up the name ‘Maui Brewing’ and there was no registration. I got the trademark and began in the footprint of a seven-barrel system full restaurant. We reformatted and created it in an existing space,” he said.
“Everyone thought I was crazy, but I’m an idea guy and I dream big. Many friends laughed when I told them about this, and now they wish they took me up on investing. I was an investment consultant before this, and I pushed myself to get this done.”
He says he got into brewing during a “formative time” for the industry.
“We opened and there were 1,200 breweries in the area versus 7,000 now. I was always interested in craft beer. I got a Stone IPA keg at my high school graduation party, and I never drank domestic,” he said.
“I tried my uncle’s (Miller) High Life at 13, but I was always more interested in my grandpa’s import beer. I know what I like, and I wanted to create beer that gives a sense of place and an integrity to the brand.”
He has watched his company evolve since day one, and his small amount of capital come to fruition.
“When we started, there was a lot of duct tape on equipment, and beer in Hawaii has also changed as we have moved forward. The only constant has been that continual change,” he said.
“My wife and I wore all the hats at one point, and there still isn’t a job we haven’t done personally.”
With four restaurants, a brewery and 800 teammates, they are happy to have grown their Ohana to new heights.
“We always just wanted our volume to grow, and we wanted to be Hawaii’s beer. We sell 80 per cent of our beer in Hawaii, with our other territories being Minnesota and Southern California. We’re happy with what we accomplished.”
But with growth comes the need for diversification, which Maui Brewing is achieving with their own sodas and spirits.
“We were built on a sense of place and integrity, but our founding principle is innovation. We looked at whiskey and gin, and they were an extension of what we do. We put in a still and decided to have fun with it,” he said.
“We are getting closer and closer to launching spirits and ready-to-drink cocktails. We are working with someone doing corn, and we want to be Hawaii’s first bourbon. We are doing it all under the name Kupu Spirits.”
They’re currently looking at hard water, spiked selzer and cold brew coffee, as well as CBD beverages to keep expanding their offerings. But as they grow, the company will continue to stick to their core: Mainly, taking care of those in Hawaii.
Among their endeavours is sponsoring the Maui Humane Society, helping marine life and animals, and investing in sustainability.
“By next quarter, we will be entirely grid independent and produce all our own electricity on-site. We do it all through solar, and we have Tesla power packs as battery storage. We are backed by biodiesel generators that use vegetable oil and pressed sunflower oil,” he said.
“We have a carbon dioxide recovering system for our production, and it’s caught during fermentation. We are now producing 80 per cent of our C02 on-site. We love Hawaii, go to the beaches, look at the sky and see the paradise it is. All we want is to preserve it.”
Marrero hasn’t regretted his move to Maui and the beautiful business he has with his wife, and he considers himself part of the little family on the island.
“People might have been skeptical of us at first, being from the mainland. But we always put our money where our mouth is, and we do what’s right for the area,” he said.
“We pay taxes locally, create jobs, and we’re going to continue making opportunities for a long time to come.”
By Jordan Parker