Brewer Bytes with Maui Brewing Co.
An Interview with Garrett Marrero, Founder and Owner
Posted on 5/6/2013 by Chops
Consider this: a man named Garrett Marrero founded, owns and operates the only craft brewery on Hawaii's Maui island. He has enjoyed great success and is recognized as a pioneer of Hawaiian beer. Yes, you might say that Garrett is a strong contender for having "the greatest job ever in the history of ever". At least, that's what I was thinking when I was learning more about his company. So here I sit, asking questions of Garrett and trying not to sound like an overly jealous sarcastic prick. Kidding of course, we were all really stoked when Garrett Marrero, founder and owner of the Maui Brewing Company, agreed to offer up some Brewer Bytes.

What inspired you to get into brewing?

I've always loved craft beer, growing up my step dad always was trying new beers. We were never a Bud Light family. I remember specifically drinking Pete's Wicked Winter at their wedding. Fast forward to moving to Hawaii when I realized there was no authentic local beer and I figured Hawaii needed real craft beer.

Do you have a fond memory about building your brewery?

So many it's impossible to list them all. Can't forget the first day in the current facility, the first day running cans, etc. etc.

Do you have a not-so-fond memory about building your brewery?

Every time something breaks, have had a few that have closed us down for a few days and those just plain suck. Part of living on an isolated island, no grainger etc. The likelihood of finding parts is minimal. We now maintain a ridiculous spare parts inventory.

How do you feel about your overall success today?

I feel great, we've been blessed to grow from 320bbls in '05 to over 19,000 in '12. We'll top 24k this year and 45k next. Our team has grown from 26 employees to 62 and growing. We've got a great team. Our success is directly correlated to our commitment to authenticity and integrity in what we do. We are committed to making truly local Hawaiian craft beer and pushing the limits in craft beer in general.

Where do you see your brewery in the future?

Continuing to grow, develop, refine. I have some internal goals unrelated to brewing, coolest place to work, fittest company in Hawaii etc. Really refining the team and growing together as a unit. Defining our success by our people and our place in the community rather than beers. The beer will follow that.

What do you feel sets you apart from other brewers?

Our geography and maybe the concepts behind our beer but frankly we all have a great deal in common. Craft beer is about quality, integrity and sense of place among other things. We tend to focus on taking influence from our local agriculture scene and how it may play well into traditional styles. Think "taking tradition and standing it on its head" in some cases, however we also have some styles where tradition is in order. At the end of the day it's about innovating and making quality beer, if that's not the focus, as Paul says "get out now".

What is your favorite beer or style to brew?

Something different. We tend to be n a Belgian and IPA kick right now. If you look at our last few limited releases there is a lot of "Belgo" influence. At the pub Kaiao, our lead brewer there, has been knocking out some killer variations of reds thru IPA. Darren and Kaiao's brewery/brewpub collab was a Belgian double IPA and was pretty awesome. We live beer throughout the week so often on the weekends I gravitate towards good Pils, Helles, and the like. Victory, Trumer, etc. are a great beer to say aloha to the weekend with. And of course we love brewing our own Helles.

What is the most challenging beer for you to brew?

By far the most difficult beer we ever brewed was the collaboration with Dogfish, Liquid Breadfruit. It was also one of the most fun times. We had so many moving parts; breadfruit, toasted papaya seeds, two fermentations. On top of that our sourcing was restricted to locally grown and harvested. the 3000# of 'ulu and 10.5# of toasted papaya seeds were definitely a challenge. We had farmers and farmers markets all over the island helping out.

What was your worst brewing experience?

First brew at the old production facility, solenoid, steam, everything's seemed to fail. I was literally jumping solenoids with an extension cord plugged into an outlet with two bare wires on the other end while Tom (old brewmaster and friend) was saying "open/close" as needed. I got shocked and burned a lot... but the beer came out great... do what it takes, right?

What are your favorite breweries outside of your own?

Port, DFH, Oskar Blues, Sierra, Victory. Had some amazing beers from O'so in Wisconsin. They're definitely a brewery to watch.

What would you say to a beer snob who is hating on your brews?

Always going to be haters. We acknowledge that our beers aren't for everyone and that's okay. One of the beautiful things about craft beer is the innovation and the variety. Saying a beer sucks is just showing a lack of intelligence. Identify flaws and be clear about what is wrong. If you say the beers from XYZ brewery suck because you tried 1 of the 50 styles they make, maybe it was a coconut porter, and you hate coconut, is that the brewery or the drinker? A lot of it comes down to education, we spend a lot of time teaching about beer and helping new craft drinkers find a style. When we find they love pilsner we aren't going to push an imperial stout on them.

What would you say to a beer novice who is trying your brews?

Pony up to the bar for a long time, we've got a ton to show you!

What advice would you give to a new home brewer?

Sanitation, sanitation, sanitation. Then carbonation, carbonation, carbonation. Other than that, one of may favorite things about homebrewers is the experimentation and innovation. No rules other than quality. Pretty cool to hang with homebrewers to try their wares.

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Garrett Marrero, Founder and Owner of the Maui Brewing Company
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