By the glass:
New vibes for those who imbibe
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Cans of Bikini Blonde Lager are filled at the Maui Brewing Co. brewhouse in Lahaina.
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Despite all the talk about Hawaii's slowing economy and the rising popularity of "stay-cations" among penny-pinching travelers, Garrett Marrero remains confident in his ability to give people a taste of the islands -- literally -- no matter where they are.
As founder of Maui Brewing Co., Marrero is an evangelist for beer produced in Hawaii. Since launching his brewery in 2005, demand has increased so much that he plans to quadruple production capacity (to 10,000 barrels per year) by the end of 2009.
This summer, Marrero is drawing attention to the three Maui Brewing beers offered in cans. His biggest challenge during the 18 months they've been in stores has been to convince customers there is nothing wrong with beer in a can.
"A can can be taken into so many of our environments in Hawaii without harming the environment," he said, although people need to remain cognizant of all laws regarding the consumption of alcohol. "You can go to the beach, open up a can of beer, (then) crush the can, put it in your backpack and take it with you.
"It's not gonna break ... and leave something behind for people to get hurt on."
Cans are more insulated than bottles, he said, so you can fit more into your cooler, and they'll stay colder longer, too.
Maui Brewing's Bikini Blonde Lager, Big Swell IPA and Coconut Porter are on sale now, with new brews expected as production ramps up. But to beat the heat this summer, Marrero suggests you pop open a can of the Bikini Blonde.
"It's crisp, it's dry (and) it's got a mild sweetness from the malt," he said. "It's just the perfect refreshing drink."
Marrero is also proud of the lengths to which Maui Brewing goes to use Hawaii-based labor and materials. Cans are manufactured on Oahu, then sent via barge to Maui, where they're filled at Maui Brewing's facilities in Lahaina.
Within weeks, the beer is available on Oahu, at locations such as The Liquor Collection, Tamura's and Foodland.
Hawaii's other craft beers, with the exception of Mehana, are bottled on the mainland, where costs are lower.
The same beers available in cans are also making their way to Oahu bars in keg form.
Currently, three taps at Yard House Waikiki offer Maui Brewing's full lineup, while Murphy's is rotating through all three beers to see which is most popular. Marrero is actively looking for new bars to sell his beer, although he admitted a surge in popularity will stretch his company's resources a little bit.
"For us to be truly local and shipping to Oahu, we need to have five kegs for every one that we sell," he said. At the same time, "we have to have one (keg) on the boat on the way over, one on the boat on the way back, one on a truck to the (bar), one at the (bar) and one on reserve at our distributor."