Shane Nelson
Shane Nelson

The Maui Brewing Co., one of Hawaii’s most popular craft beer producers, has announced plans to open a new brewpub in Waikiki next year, bringing with it a host of locally made lagers and ales previously unavailable on Oahu.

Located at the Holiday Inn Resort Waikiki Beachcomber, the restaurant and bar will take over the entire space currently occupied by Jimmy Buffett’s. Work on a multimillion-dollar renovation at the 20,000-square-foot space will begin in the spring, with the Maui Brewing operation slated to open the following fall.

Founded in 2005 by Garrett Marrero and his wife Melanie, Maui Brewing currently operates two locations on the Valley Isle: the original brewpub just north of Lahaina and the recently opened brewery in Kihei.

“One of our founding principles is handcrafted ales and lagers brewed with aloha, and that only comes if it’s brewed in Hawaii,” said Garret Marrero, noting that all of the company’s beer is currently produced on Maui.

“Always has been; always will be,” he said of the company’s brew-only-in-Hawaii philosophy. “We’re not fakers. We believe in authenticity.”

Like many U.S. craft brewers, Marrero ships in malted barley and hops from producers in the Midwest, Canada and Europe, but the company uses only Hawaii water to create its beers, including longtime local favorites like the Bikini Blonde Lager, Big Swell IPA and the Coconut Porter. And whenever possible, Garrett said Maui Brewing works with Valley Isle farmers to source local agriculture and products to make a range of other seasonal beers and nonalcoholic products like ginger and root beers and even natural sodas, featuring ingredients like locally grown ginger, Big Island vanilla, Hawaii cane sugar and honey.  

“We use Maui gold pineapple juice in our Mana Wheat beer to make it a very special, localized product,” he said. “And we’ve brewed with everything from guava, mango, papaya, lemongrass, pumpkin, strawberries. We’ve even done a Maui onion beer.”

Garrett noted that the company uses the same local-whenever-possible approach in its restaurants, even making its own mustard and ketchup, and said he’s hopeful the new Waikiki location, which is a partnership with Outrigger Enterprises Group, will be a hit with residents, because it’s the first time people living on Oahu will have access to all of the company’s beers.

“If you go to the tasting room in Kihei, we’ll have between 28 and 36 different beers on tap,” Marrero said. “If you go to the [original] brewpub in Kahana, we’ll have roughly 22 different beers on tap. Even our hand-crafted ginger beer and root beer you can get locally on Maui, but not on Oahu.”

Marrero offered a little advice to Maui travelers looking to enjoy a night’s meal at the company’s original West Maui brewpub, a family-friendly spot that closes at 10 p.m.

“We run a wait every day,” he said. “I’d highly suggest reservations.”

The addition of a popular local brewpub on Waikiki’s iconic Kalakaua Avenue will certainly offer travelers there a fresh bit of Hawaii authenticity in a destination increasingly filled with international fashion retailers and restaurants found commonly at tourism hubs around the planet.

“It’s important to showcase what our islands provide and what is special about Hawaii,” Marrero said of the planned Waikiki location. “You can go anywhere and order a Bud Light, but why would you when you’re in Hawaii, and you can get something that was crafted here that’s not only fresh but local and supports local jobs? Plus, you’re on vacation. Step outside the box and try something new. You might just like it.”

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