Maui Brewing Company: Keeping It Green in Hawaii

Maui Brewing Company

Maui Brewing Co. in Kihei, Hawaii, is a prime example of a brewery that is doing everything right when it comes to being green. Not only are the beers they produce “fiercely Hawaiian” in their taste, but the company has a serious commitment to supporting the local economy and helping marine life by choosing marine-friendly packaging.

We talked to Garrett W. Marrero, Founder and CEO, to find out what’s behind their green approach to brewing and what makes the brewery so different.

QUESTION: You’ve made a commitment to helping thè local economy while keeping things as green as possible. Can you talk about some of the things you’re doing and ways your company is involved in the community?

GM: We’ve only become more vigilant in our “fiercely local” mindset. We believe Hawaii needs more manufacturing jobs as a way to diversify the economy that has been primarily service industry based. We’ve been critical of false Hawaiian products, those that are made on the mainland and marketed as if they’re from Hawaii. In at least one case we believe this vocal stance along with our demonstrated growth has led a company actually to move production to Hawaii. We believe that’s a win for everyone.

We have a wonderful philanthropic program and support numerous local charities with both cash and in-kind contributions; for example, we’re the largest donors to the Maui Humane Society. We are stewards in our industry as well in that we have helped guide new breweries in their pursuits of opening breweries in the State and most recently sold our original brewing facility to a startup on Maui.

I also serve the entire craft community as a member of the Government Affairs Committee of the Brewers Association and sit as VP of the Hawaiian Craft Brewers Guild. You mentioned our sustainability as well, we have long been believers in green energy and leaving as small a footprint as possible. As such, we’ve invested heavily in solar energy and wastewater treatment. Our new facility in Kihei has a 200kW solar array with battery storage and will be expanding to 500kW by the end of the year.

QUESTION: Can you tell our readers about your recyclable plastic carrying case and its benefits?

GM: We were the first to use the Paktech Handles for our beers. Also, we were one of the first dozen canning craft brewers. We had been thru the traditional ring, boxes, wraps, and none of them ever met our needs. I read about paktech handles in a packaging industry magazine while at CBC in 2006 Seattle, so I called them up and started the discussion.

We now use a 4pk handle and a 6pk handle depending on the variety of beer. We believe them to be safer for the marine environment as they are far more tangible than hi cone rings; this begs the user to place the ring in recycling (ideally) or at least trash and they tend to not blow away into the water when enjoying your beers at the shore. Additionally, the paktech ring is made with 96% post-consumer recycled plastic and completely covers the can tops, keeping them clean and dust free. They also stack better as the rings nest into can bottoms, keeping stacks from shifting on the shelf.

QUESTION: You use some unique flavors such as gold pineapple, hand-toasted coconuts, and lemongrass to create your beers. Can you tell us a bit about your recipes and how do those flavors play a role in your creations (and why you chose them)?

GM: We started our company with the concept of making authentic local Hawaiian Craft Beer and have remained “fiercely local” in our principles. As such, we believe in integrating local agriculture into select beers when they make sense.

We don’t put fruit, spices, etc. in all our beers but, where appropriate, we find that it can make for some truly amazing beers. For example, when Coconut Porter was first brewed I believe it was the first commercially available “coconut beer.” Toasted coconut takes wonderfully to the Robust Porter style largely flavored with vanilla or coffee or chocolate etc. Using coconut was a way to tie this awesome style of beer to our region as coconut is an iconic Hawaiian ingredient.

Maui Gold pineapple was chosen for the Mana Wheat as traditionally American Wheat have been great candidates for fruit. Our variety of pineapple grown only on Maui and known for its low acidity, high sugar content and wonderful aroma making it perfect for the style. Suffice to say that supporting local agriculture and the family farms in our community is part of our bedrock and when it makes sense, we like to showcase Hawaii’s plethora of tropical ingredients within our craft beers.

Diana Bocco is a writer and author who writes for Yahoo!, the Discovery Channel website, Marie Claire, Poplar Mechanics, and more. You can find more about her work on her website dianabocco.com.

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