Since it launched in 2005, Maui Brewing Company has expanded tremendously — and it’s done so by supporting the entire local brewing industry. Pacific Business News editor in chief A. Kam Napier has more.
Garret Marrero and his then-girlfriend Melanie Oxley took a big chance in 2005 when they left San Francisco and moved to Hawaii to launch Maui Brewing Co. Today, the married couple runs Hawaiʻi’s largest brewer, producing more than 53,000 barrels of beer annually. They’re up to four locations and 600 employees, with plans to add both another location as well as a distillery for spirits production.
The craft brew scene was new then, in Hawaiʻi, and Maui Brewing had an early start in the category. A lot of business owners might have clung to that as a competitive advantage but Marrero went in a different direction. He set about it making it easier all craft brewers to have a shot at success. Ian Elumba, co-owner of Koholā Brewery on Maui, puts it this way: “[Garrett] is a huge advocate of craft beer and helped pass a lot of bills and change a lot of laws to pave the way for everyone.”
For example, Maui county used to limit the amount beer a brewer could produce. Marrero worked to get the limit eliminated. More recently, he was instrumental in the creation of a Class 18 license for brewers, which would allow them to expand into wine or spirits production. Before the law creating that license was passed in 2013, brewers were restricted to making beer only.
Perhaps the strongest example of Marrero helping people who might otherwise be seen as competitors was when Elumba approached him for advice when he was about to launch Koholā Brewery. Marrero ended up selling Elumba Maui Brewing Co.’s own original facility as a turnkey operation.