Maui Brewing Company’s new Kihei facility is up and running. It’s not just a beer production facility anymore, and their tasting room has an amazing range of taps for you to taste. If you want a backstage pass to the beer, it’s best to take the tour.
“We run this a little different than most breweries,” owner and founder Garrett Marrero told me during a recent tour. “This is two brew houses as opposed to just having one. There is a 50-barrel on one side and a 25 here. So with the 25, we can do smaller runs. We’ll do four runs to the 100 barrel tanks like we did in Lahaina, only we can do it much more efficiently here.”
Then Marrero headed over to a digital screen that shows what’s happening inside any of the tanks. From there he can measure sugar extraction, gravity, weight and so much more that I don’t quite understand enough to explain. Then he showed off a tasting station with a little tap, and a lab where strains of yeast are created and stored and every batch of beer is run through a stat test. Then there’s the canning line, grain storage, spent grain and solar power headquarters. There’s a lot of ground to cover back there.
“We are becoming a real craft beverage company, more than just a brewery,” says Marrero. “If you look at the way our company has grown, it’s gone from small brew pub to self-distributing small packaging brew pub, regional craft brewery and now we are with Maui Stone Craft Beverages as one division of what we do. And a main brewery here, a second restaurant and now we’re adding spirits. I’m referring to us more and more as a craft beverage company, because of what we’re doing.”
The tasting room has 30 taps, and while there’s always beer on rotation, you can count on them to have more than you can taste and drink in one sitting. It’s a one stop shop for beer education: Crystal 808, Milk of Magnesia, Blood Orange IPA and Vienna are just a few I’ve tasted. To keep track of tasting notes and variety, I log what I try into my Untappd beer app, adding a bit of boozy and social tech.
“The nice thing is that as we expand into a distillery and in soda, we can use the 25 to run those batches,” says Marrero. “The expansion on our soda line is all natural and locally based. We are always a craft brewery at heart but to add those other products is taking steps in a process that we already do, and we are already built for it. They are just extensions of what we already do. Think about it this way: whiskey is just the IPA–without hops–that’s been distilled.”
If you want to have a beer before you tour, give yourself time to drink one at the bar. I know that having a brew in hand while walking around back there sounds great, but this is Maui County, and stuff like that isn’t legal.
Tours leave daily at 12:30, 1:30 and 2:30. It’s $5 per person, and kids ages 10 and up can join. The tour includes a flight of the four flagship beers. There’s also always a food truck or two outside the tasting room for sustenance–Outrigger Pizza, 808 Street Grindz, Slightly Salty, Smoke & Spice, Fat Daddy’s, Horhitos, Three’s Bar and Grill and Like Poke are all in the rotation. You order outside and then bring it into the tasting room, which has a bar, a hip lobby with benches, high tops and an outdoor patio with picnic tables and umbrellas.
“This is everything we always promised to do,” says Marerro. “Authentic local production. We scaled it up, we put our money where our mouth is. We reinvested almost $20 million in this facility in order to promote local manufacturing and keep ourselves authentic. That’s really important here. We could have done this for half the cost and made 40 percent more margin if we did it on the Mainland. But why do that? It’s cheaper and that’s why everyone goes that route. But cheaper doesn’t always mean better, even from a profit standpoint. Because we we built our brand on being authentic.”
The Kihei tasting room is also doing events like this Saturday’s “Detox to Retox.” Join in for a yoga class outdoors if the weather holds, then head to the tasting room where you’ll focus on communal health in the form of beer specials. Stay tuned for music festivals, too.
The Maui Brewing Company Kihei facility is open from 11am to 10pm and also offers private tours for groups. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or 808-123-3002 x105. The Kahana Brewpub is still open, too. Go to Mauibrewingco.com for more info.
605 Lipoa Pkwy, Kihei