Where did you grow up?
All over – Long Island, New York for the first 15 years, then 8 years in Knoxville Tennessee followed by another decade in Colorado. I have yet to actually grow up
Do you remember the first craft beer that left an impression on you?
Arrogant Bastard served at Barley’s Tap Room in Knoxville, TN. I hated it at first but ordered another for my second round and that marked the end of my fizzy yellow beer days.
What was your first job in the beer industry?
Draught Technician at the Odell Brewing Company. Cleaning beer lines in Fort Collins, Colorado for just about minimum wage – might’ve been the best job I’ve ever had!!
What did you do before coming to Maui Brewing Company?
Mid-Atlantic Sales Manager for the Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, PA. I managed wholesaler relationships from Delaware down to North Carolina. It was a great experience and I got to work with Steve German, a great mentor and all around great guy.
What is your current role at Maui Brewing Company?
That’s a long list! My main responsibility is to be the liason between our mainland wholesalers to ensure that we have a strong share of mind in their day to day sales as well as make sure they actually have beer. Growing sales in all markets as well as managing the sales team that will eventually be in place on the mainland and other Hawaiian islands.
Outside of Hawaii, where is MBC’s strongest market?
Southern California is far and away the leading mainland market. With Garrett hailing from San Diego and our strong relationship with Stone (their our distributor in So Cal) we’ve got a great foothold here.
How close is the new brewery from opening?
We’re looking at an October opening. Construction has it’s pitfalls but we’re in the home stretch and the brewery is coming together beautifully. If you’ve followed Garrett’s posts on Instagram (@mauibrewingco) you can see that we’re moving right along. We can’t move in soon enough though as we need more beer!!
Once the new brewery opens, will you be looking to expand distribution into new states and countries? What territories are at the top of your list?
We will certainly be looking at spreading the aloha to other states and countries. We feel there’s a shared culture between the Hawaiian islands and New Zealand / Australia and will be looking into getting our beer down under once the brewery is on-line. New states might include Florida, New York and Illinois but those plans are far off and will likely have to wait until we can adequately fill our current pipeline
Are there plans to add new year round beers to MBC’s line up once the new brewery gets online?
Absolutely! With our constant rotation of limited offerings we are constantly finding new beers that we want to share with our outer markets. There are no specific timeline for adding year round offerings at the moment but we certainly have our eye on a few beers that we’d really like to see in cans.
As a NSM, do you have to travel a lot to the various markets MBC is in, or can you manage that from Maui?
I’m writing this from the commuter terminal at LAX; so yes, there’s plenty of travel involved. Managing the mainland sales from Maui is possible but takes frequent trips to ensure that we are still meeting face-to-face with our wholesale partners and not just sending e-mails. In addition, one of the best parts of the job is attending events like beer festivals, tap takeovers and tastings in our markets and we can’t do all those from our island!
How important are big box retailers like BevMo!, Costco, Walmart, etc., in driving sales and expansion?
Extremely. As large chain retailers are buying in to the viability of craft brands we continue to gain ground in these retail sets. Ten years ago the segment was dominated by the big three but as their sales fall and ours rise we are able to gain more and more traction in big box stores. These retailers are listening to their consumers, who are thirsty for good beer, and we’re poised to help fill those shelves. Of course, until we have all the necessary beer it is very difficult to push hard for chain store placements but, again, with the opening of Kihei we’ll be put in a position to start calling on chains and getting our cans into their stores.
It seems like every brewery is releasing a Session IPA or a Saison now. Do you see those trends holding strong or fading off? Any chance Maui will release their own versions?
I see the session pale as here to stay. As a self proclaimed hop-head I love the thought of being able to session several pale ales while sitting on the beach, watching a game or even drinking at the bar. We’ve discussed sessionable pales in production meetings in the past and believe that there’s a place for one in our line-up, but we’ll need to take our time, develop the recipe and ensure that it’s worthy of the Maui Brewing name before we get it into production.
How do you work with your various distributors to position and market MBC? How critical is shelf placement on the mainland?
We are in a very fortunate place as we position ourselves in our mainland wholesalers. Being TRUE Hawaiian beer brings with it many marketing opportunities. My favorite being that once you’ve enjoyed a Maui Brewing can in the paradise that is our home state, we can bring you back to paradise 12 ounces at a time. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to sit in Austin, Texas and enjoy a Bikini Blonde Lager and remember that time you watched the sunset in Hawaii. The experience translates to all of our markets and allows our drinkers to magically transport back to an amazing experience – that of being in Hawaii.
As far as shelf placement goes – this is an every day battle and local sales reps will constantly reset coolers and move our beer around. Until we have local reps of our own, we will continue to struggle to keep our beer at eye-level. Fortunately, the demand for our cans continues to grow so retailers see the value of keeping our brews in a favorable position if only because they have a high velocity
What is one beer that we can’t get here in Hawaii that you’d love to be able to get?
Prima Pilsner from the Victory Brewing Company. All whole flower hopped to the tune of 55 IBUs this is the paradigm of Pilsners in my eyes. I can’t wait until I can sip some of these on the beaches of Maui!
What has been your favorite thing about living in Hawaii so far?
Where do I begin? I grew up on an island so I’ve always loved the beach. That has to be the best part so far. Just relaxing with friends and enjoying a beer on the beach at the end of the day… that’s hard to beat.