Maui Brewing Co. is a microbrewery in Maui, Hawaii and to the community of the island, they are huge. In 2005 Garrett Marrero and Melanie Oxley began MBC with only one goal in mind, good beer for good people. Garrett’s wants for the brewery was to be part of the community of Maui that he has grown to love. He visited the island for the first time in 2001 and spent 4 years trying to figure out a way to set roots. His love of craft beer and the fact that the island wasn’t getting much resources, is what helped him come to the idea of MBC. They bought an operable brewpub that was flunking, so it was an easier startup than as imagined, and the goal was to spread the “liquid aloha” throughout the island.
In October of 2006, the MBC production facility opened. With a couple recipes under the brewmasters belt, they were able to get a good flow to the brew pub and other pubs on the island, but the results left the island wanting more.
In April of 2007, MBC beer was available in cans and only cans. Here’s where the “give back to the community”, comes in. Many people wonder why some breweries produce only cans, and what factors are taken into consideration when making a decision like this. To the people at MBC, the environment and keeping it clean is priority #1. The islands of Hawaii has millions of tourists flying in and out. The tourism industry of Maui in particular, is the only source of economic health for the island. For this reason, the cans truly make sense. Cans don’t break like glass bottles do and it is important to keep the beaches of the island free of broken glass. Cans can be recycled, are lightweight and durable, and easier to get cold than bottles. But, one of the biggest reasons, cans eliminate light damage to the flavor of the beer which in turn, ensure the brisk satisfying taste of any microbrew.
In 2008, the brew pub was completely re-modeled, by expanding and making the production facility larger. This in turn allows for more production of beer for the brewpub and allowing the production facility to ship beers to the mouth watering audience in California. With the growth of the brewery and brewpub, they found even more ways to give back to the community. All spent grain from the brewing process is donated to the local farmers for feed and compost and it doesn’t end there. Garrett was not pleased with the weekly disposal of the gallons upon gallons of vegetable oil, so after some research the oil is converted into biodiesel fuel. This environmentally-friendly fuel is used by the owners for their personal vehicles as well as the brewery trucks. The production facility has also been outfitted to be environmentally-friendly by going solar powered, charged using 434 panels giving the brewery a total of 104,160 watts.
This brewery is equipped with a taproom and tours for tourists and local beer lovers to learn and enjoy. My wife and I were two beer loving tourists that couldn’t wait to see what was behind the doors, a small factory not yet active at that moment, but it was still a wonder imagining the workers doing what they do best. Our tour was guided by Buck who is a veteran at the brewery. Being a homebrewer and future microbrewer myself, I had many questions for him throughout the tour. Buck showed us where they brew the beer, where they keg the beer, where they can the beer, and of course, where they taste the beer. Having enjoying MBC’s beer for quite some time, nothing compares to what we tried at their taproom. Straight from the source sums it up pretty nicely. I asked Buck why the beer on the main land doesn’t taste as flavorful as it does here, and he responded by telling me that during the time it takes to ship the beer, a lot of the flavors will have disappeared. He continued by telling me that they have began to take extra steps in the brewing process, adding additional key flavors. The Coconut Porter is a good example, they recently started by adding more coconut during the fermentation process to build on the flavor, so it could survive the journey across the pacific and still pack some flavor. To me this idea sounded a lot like the history of the IPA with the additional hops added to the beer, so by time it reached India it was a flavorful ale. That idea is basically the same, but with coconut. After the tour I stuck around to talk to Buck about some other questions I had. I asked him, since MBC is all about the island and give and take from Maui, why not grow your own hops here? He then told me that the dirt is too hot for hops to grow. Lots of people have tried with no success. Our beer geek conversation ended shortly after that and we went along our hoppy way.
We made our way to the brewpub which is about 20 mins away in the town of Kahana. When I walked into the brewpub the first thing to catch my eye was the tap list on two of the walls displayed more beers than I expected. Above that I found some bad-ass keg lights that hung from the ceiling. We were seated and I couldn’t help but feel like a kid in a candy shop. Staring at the tap list wondering what to try first. Long story short, I tried ‘em all.
Getting back to how MBC gives back to the island and uses their resources to help locals, MBC gives not only the spent grains to the farmers in which they also buy from said farmers, such as the beef, veggies, and so on, they also give some of the grains to the baker who makes their buns and sandwich bread. If you go in there and order a sandwich be prepared to giddy when you see the spent grain baked into your bread. It was awesome to say the least. To top that off, every order of onion rings purchased at the brewpub sees half the sale donated to the humane society, as well as they money from the recycled cans and bottles.
Before my trip to the Maui Brewing Company I was anticipating a really awesome brewery that makes awesome beer, and that is exactly what I experienced. During my trip to the brewery I learned that resources are rare, and the strides taken for them to keep sustainability going, benefiting the brewery and the people of the island they love so much. One thing is undeniable, they are about the people and the island of Maui. I want to end this by saying Mahalo to Buck for the tour and the great conversation, I would love to say Mahalo as well to the crew of the MBC brewpub and absolutely want to say Cheers and Aloha.