- Associated Press - Saturday, July 18, 2015

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) - Things are brewing at Maui Brewing Co. as the state’s largest craft brewery has doubled its production of beer over the last year and is slated to open two brewpubs over the next two years in Kihei and on Oahu.

Garrett Marrero, co-founder of the Maui company with his wife, Melanie, plans to open the company’s first off-island brewpub in the fall 2016 at the Holiday Inn Resort Waikiki Beachcomber hotel. The brewpub will replace Jimmy Buffet’s at the Beachcomber and undergo a “multimillion-dollar renovation,” the Maui News reported (https://bit.ly/1HsuTT2).

“Things are pretty hectic,” Marrero said. “We’ve got a lot of projects on the books, and I’m excited that our brand has grown to what it is, which in large part speaks to what we do — the truth of our brand and the integrity of how we do it.”

The brewpub will be managed and operated by Maui restaurateurs Chris Thibaut and Bill Terry under the company’s new Maui Brewing Restaurant Group. Thibaut, whose family owns Duke’s and Hula Grill restaurants in Hawaii and California, will serve as president of the group.

“Bill and Chris have grown up in the restaurant business so we’re very confident in their administration capabilities,” Marrero said. “To partner with them made sense for us in order to grow the restaurant division of our company.”

Founded in 2005, the company’s only eatery is its original brewpub in Kahana. The small restaurant seats about 150 people, while the Waikiki restaurant will seat around 500.

“In Kahana, we’ve been growing there but haven’t been able to do what we want to do,” Marrerro said. “And then when we remodeled, we didn’t have the budget. Ten years forward, now, we really wanted to evolve our restaurants to the scale we really want to see.”

Marrero said his plan is to open four brewpubs in the state, with the third at the company’s brewhouse and canning facility in Kihei and the fourth to be determined. He plans to expand the company’s restaurant division in the future, possibly to the West Coast and Japan.

A brewpub will be built at the front of the Kihei facility, similar to the Kahana location, and is expected to be completed in late 2016 to early 2017.

In the meantime, the Kihei facility hosts food trucks serving lunch and dinner in its tasting room.

Marrero said he has been friends with the restaurateurs “since the first day I was selling Bikini Blondes” and that they operate under the same principles of serving fresh, local, natural and authentic food. He adamantly rejected microwaves in the kitchen and said cooks make everything from scratch, including mustard, ketchup, salad dressing, sausages and their own house-cured pipikaula.

“Everything you can think of,” he said. “Bread is the only thing we don’t make in-house, but it’s something we’d like to do.”

Marrero said he may remodel the Kahana location in the future, but is leaning toward building an “entirely new experience” because the brewpub is “busy all the time.” He said the new West Maui restaurant would be bigger and could do specialized brewing projects such as sour and oak barrel aging, or distillation.

The additional brewpubs and managers will help grow the restaurant group and relieve some of the pressure on Marrero and his wife, so they can focus on brewing operations. The company is selling more beer than ever and expanded distribution to Alaska this month.

“On Oahu alone we’re up over 60 percent,” Marrero said. “We’re selling about 100 percent more beer than we did last year and getting to the point where we already need to open new tanks in Kihei.”

Distributing about 20,000 to 22,000 barrels of beer last year, the brewery is on pace to double production to about 43,000 this year, Marrero said. He said next year he anticipates producing 60,000 barrels.

“Demand for our beer has been off the charts,” he said. “We ran out of beer and have to add more tanks.”

The brewery is adding six 250-barrel tanks by the end of the year, as well as a distillery and a flash pasteurizer to naturally preserve its craft beverages. The additions will nearly double the brewery’s fermentation capacity, Marrero said.

Marrero declined to say how much money the company made last year, but said it is “doing well and looks forward to growing further.”

“The dollar is not what drives us,” he said, noting that product quality and innovation are more important than profit margins.

The company’s Maui Stone Craft Beverages serves as the distribution division on Maui, and the company has a network of 18 different wholesalers for its Mainland and international distribution. Maui Brewing Co. sells beer in 12 states and six countries, a number that is sure to grow by the end of the year, Marrero said.

“I think our story resonates where a lot of society is at right now,” he said. “People want good quality food, beer, spirits, whatever it may be. When they buy from us, they’re supporting a local brand and a fresh product and a quality product at fair pricing.”

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Information from: The Maui News, https://www.mauinews.com

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