(Lahaina, Maui, HI) – Maui Brewing Co. Founder and Owner, Garrett Marrero, revealed some of his upcoming collaboration projects and dished even more on his beef with Kona during his SAVOR salon.
The company sent out a press release earlier in the year on collaborations with Jolly Pumpkin and Dogfish Head (recent Maui Brewing Co. news on BeerPulse) though there are a few more collaborations in the works.
On collaborations and new beers:
Coronado Brewing Owner, Rick Chapman, paid a visit to Hawaii and together, they brewed a pilot batch of Hibiscus IPA at Maui’s facility. They will brew a production-level 40-barrel batch together in San Diego at Coronado later this year.
Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey Director of Brewing Operations, Tomme Arthur, will go to Hawaii in December and brew a lemongrass saison for release in the spring.
Maui and Sun King Brewing are slated to brew a stout in winter 2013 though it isn’t clear if that means this coming winter or if the beer will be the already-announced Aloha B’ak’tun or a different stout altogether.
Maui is brewing a Pilsner next summer with Scarborough yeast that he would like to put in green-colored cans. He joked that he might get a legal letter from Heineken as they may poke some fun at the company with the label.
On Hawaii’s beer market:
Marrero said that 62-68% of the company’s nearly 18,000 barrels sold are in Hawaii. The company plans to grow its footprint outside of the islands and would like to eventually hit a sweet spot of 60,000 barrels produced with half being sold in Hawaii and half being sold in the mainland. Marrero’s research says that they can probably hit 30,000 barrels sold in Hawaii.
All of that said, Maui Brewing also sells beer elsewhere…like Japan. The company ships a pallet every other month to the country (about 120 case-equivalents). Japan is a draft-driven market, Marrero says, so they worked out a deal where the Japan importer bought empty kegs (primarily sixtels) and shipped them to Maui for Maui to fill and send back. Marrero wasn’t comfortable tying so much money of his own money into kegs (assets to the brewery as long as they own them) and not seeing them returned for months. The arrangement was critical to making export to Japan a success. and that they largely sell
Finally, there doesn’t appear to be a media appearance or talk that doesn’t include a reference to Kona and this soapbox speech during the SAVOR salon was no different. Marrero provided context on his ongoing rift with Kona…
“We’ve been attacked in the market a few times by the big boys if you will. They say, ‘It’s not sustainable. You’re bringing ingredients over just to brew.’ Well, do you have a malthouse in your backyard? You’re bringing them over to Washington to brew your Hawaiian beer, over to Oregon to brew your Hawaiian beer, over to New Hampshire to brew your Hawaiian beer. So, how are we bad? I think the point is that, before we came along, no one brought up the issue. There was no brewery to compete with.
And yeah, I’m talking about Kona. I’m not trying to hide it. I’m pretty honest that way. We don’t try to hide that fact.
Until we came about and became a force to be reckoned with, until we were on the shelves and we were doing 3,000 to 5,000 barrels, they didn’t think that we were going to last. I think that they looked at us as this ‘See if they can make it’ type of thing. Obviously, that wasn’t the case. Until then, there was never any mention of the beer being brewed outside the state of Hawaii.
All of a sudden, 2008 comes along and we do 6,000 barrels. Then they say ‘We are now brewing beer freshest and closest to market because it is costly and unsustainable to ship ingredients to Hawaii to brew beer.’ All of a sudden, this mentality changed and it only changed once there was another brewery making real local Hawaiian beer. Something that I am of a huge proponent of is transparency in your labeling. I believe in local beer and I don’t think it is the wrong thing for them to contract brew beer. I don’t see anything wrong with Kona. I think they actually make some very fine beers. However, I think you the consumer deserves the opportunity to make that decision for yourself and I believe that the label should require the location of where the beer is made, not just where the offices are located.”
Listen to Marrero’s full talk on Craft Beer Radio.