One of the perks of having two sons working in the craft beer industry in San Diego County is the ongoing education they give me about new craft beers. It’s nice that they have developed a few connections within the beer community, too.
I’ve been impressed to learn that while the number of craft breweries continues to grow daily, there is a healthy respect and cooperation among those in the beer community. In fact, “collaboration beers” between two or more breweries are frequent and outstanding.
Port Brewing Co./The Lost Abbey has collaborated with a number of other breweries, and among their friends is Maui Brewing Co., with which they created the limited edition Lemongrass Saison.
This past summer, tasting room manager Jason Danderand provided Sid with a few brews to take with us to Maui to share with Maui Brewing Co. owner and founder Garrett Marrero, who is a San Diego native. Every visit we take to Napili Bay includes several stops at the Maui Brewing Co. brewpub in nearby Kahana, and this past summer we also went to the brewery in Lahaina. Garrett kindly set aside some time to give us a tour of the plant and tells us about his company.
There’s no question Maui Brewing faces obstacles that are foreign to breweries on the mainland, including access to certain ingredients, costs, taxes and distribution issues inherent to doing business on an island. But Garrett is a sharp guy who not only has a keen business mind, but also a strong commitment to the local community, the environment and all of Hawaii. For example, all MBC beers are made completely in Hawaii and then shipped for distribution. The brewery uses as many local ingredients as possible. Those are prevalent in two of my favorites: MBC’s CoCoNut Porter featuring toasted coconut, and Mana Wheat, made with fresh Maui Gold pineapple. Grain used in beer production is donated to local ranchers for cattle feed and composting.
MBC is committed to job creation for residents, and by limiting the amount of automation in the packaging process, there is still plenty of work for humans instead of machines. All Maui Brewing Co. beers are packaged in eco-friendly cans, not bottles, to protect the beer from both light and oxygen damage. The artwork on the cans comes from local Maui artists, and the cans are manufactured on Oahu.
Maui Brewing is schedule to open a new facility in Kihei that is expected to create 80 new jobs and further expand the brewery’s reach.
CoCoNut Porter, Mana Wheat, Bikini Blonde, Big Swell IPA and other Maui Brewing Co. beers are available at most local Southern California retail liquor stores, including Liquorama and BevMo in Upland and Total Wines and More in Rancho Cucamonga.