In the six years since launching his line of Maui Brewing Co. canned brews, Garrett Marrero has religiously stuck to his company's motto of being "truly local, truly no ka oi."
Every ounce of beer that goes into a Maui Brewing Co. can is made on the island - a distinction he says makes him the largest local brewery in Hawaii.
That distinction has helped fuel an ever-increasing demand that has forced Marrero to rapidly expand over the years. And he's not done growing yet.
Maui Brewing Co. Director of Brewery Operations Darren Moser pours a glass of chipotle chocolate Belgian stout named “Aloha Bak’tun.” The dark beer is a tribute to the end of the Mayan calender and features locally grown Maui peppers and Big Island chocolate.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Maui Brewing Co. Director of Brewery Operations Darren Moser is dwarfed by 100-barrel, stainless steel finishing vats in the Lahaina brewery Friday morning.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
"Our company is highly committed to making the best possible beer truly authentic to Hawaii. We will never be produced on the Mainland and simply called Hawaiian," said Marrero, who founded the company in 2005 with his wife, Melanie, after buying an existing brew pub in West Maui.
Since 2005, Maui Brewing Co. has grown from a small, seven-barrel brew pub in Kahana to a thriving craft brewery with distribution of its locally made beers stretching across 11 markets nationwide and five international markets.
His next move is to expand production fivefold with a third production facility in South Maui.
"We simply cannot make enough beer to meet demand," said Marrero, 34. "It's a good problem to have, but still a problem."
The company has purchased a 2-acre plot of land in the Maui Research & Technology Park in Kihei, where it plans to build a brew house and eventually add a second brew pub.
Together with its existing Kahana location and production-and-canning facility in Lahaina town, Maui Brewing Co. expects to increase total production to 150,000 barrels a year.
"We'll hopefully break ground in February," Marrero said of the Kihei project. "The site plan is set, we've ordered equipment. It'll start out as a production facility, and we plan to add a pub down the line."
He said that the new facility will allow the company to make more than just beer.
"It will more than quintuple our production capacity, and at the same time, give us the capability to both distill and make ciders and mead for those that are gluten-free and can't drink beer; it's nice to have a way to service them as well."
Officials at the Research & Technology Park see the brewery as a complementary addition as the park works to attract a broader range of tenants and activities to the campus.
"We are very pleased that Maui Brewing Co. has chosen the Maui Research & Technology Park as the site for their expansion for several reasons. Maui Brewing Co. is great example of economic diversification, and probably the leading exporter we have on Maui behind (Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co.)," said Steve Perkins, project coordinator for Pacific Rim Land, a co-developer of the park.
"The Maui Brewing project will complement the R&T Park master plan update, which is nearing completion," Perkins said.
The park's updated master plan calls for a major shift from the existing traditional tech park to "an integrated and vibrant mixed-use community focused around a regional knowledge-based industry employment base."
At build-out, Marrero said he expects to create at least 80 new jobs, which will add to the company's existing 61 employees.
He said Maui Brewing Co. is on track to produce 24,000 barrels of beer this year, which is up from 18,000 barrels the year before.
"That already makes us the largest local producer in Hawaii," Marrero said.
He makes no secret that his jab about Mainland-brewed beer claiming to be local is aimed at Big Island beer giant Kona Brewing Co.
While Kona Brewing Co. expects sales to exceed 200,000 barrels this year, about 6 percent of that - or 12,000 barrels - is made in Hawaii, according to President Mattson Davis. The rest is brewed and distributed out of Washington state, Oregon and New Hampshire.
"We're always looking to be limiting in how we tax the resources of the islands," Davis said. "We think a lot about our impact on the environment."
He added: "I'm excited about (Garrett's) expansion. He is brewing more beer in Hawaii than anybody else is."
Marrero touts his company's eco-friendliness as well, noting that Maui Brewing Co.'s cans are manufactured on Oahu and designed by Maui artists. The cans have an added bonus of better protecting the beer from both light and oxygen damage, which he says can compromise taste. The company's packaging also uses a recyclable plastic carrying device in lieu of plastic rings and cardboard cases.
With all of the success Maui Brewing Co. is seeing, Marrero says he's thinking of passing some of that on to his local customers.
"We may do a small equity offering for Hawaii residents," he said.
* Nanea Kalani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.