The Hawaii brewing scene is on fire right now with multiple breweries slated to open in the next few years, mostly on Oahu. But over on Maui, Kohola Brewery has quietly entered the market with plans to start brewing later this year. The brewery recently purchased the former Maui Brewing Company Lahaina facility and has been busy at work refurbishing the equipment and building out a brand new tasting room and bar.
The 25 barrel brewery will allow Kohola to grow and they’ve already secured a multi-year hop contract to make sure they are set for the future. I got a chance to catch up with the team at Kohola to talk about what’s behind their new brewery and learn more about what we can expect. Maui based Beertographer Bryan Berkowitz also had the chance to stop by the brewery and take a few preview pics.
Founders and backgrounds:
Our founders are William Ramirez and Ian Elumba. William is a southern California native and beer enthusiast and Ian is a University of Hawaii alumni, technology professional and craft beer lover. Ian’s wife, Christine and William’s wife, Susan both got them together to start Koholā Brewery.
Other notable partners in the company:
Brittany and Justin Brouhard, our brewers and co-owners. In 2014, William had injured his elbow and his physical therapist, Justin Brouhard, turned out to be an avid homebrewer. Justin and William quickly developed a connection. A few months later, William had become good friends with Justin and his wife, Brittany. The two had started brewing beer together out of a pot in their kitchen in Camarillo, CA and turned some of their favorite recipes into award winning beers.
What does Kohola mean and how did you come up with that name for the brewery?
Koholā means humpback whale in Hawaiian language, we named the brewery after the thousands of whales that visit Maui waters every year. We hope to work with local organizations to improve whale awareness and protecting their living environment.
Why open a brewery in Hawaii, specifically on Maui? Why not on Oahu?
Maui Brewing Company was selling their old facility in Lahaina and we did the numbers, thought about the time it would take for us to build a brewery from the ground up and it was a no-brainer. It was an easier transition for us with MBC providing a helping hand.
Who will be the head brewer and what is his/her background and experience?
California award winning home brewer, Justin Brouhard, a USC graduate and Dr. in Physical Therapist turned Head Brewer. Justin has brewed for over 10 years and has been offered several head brewing positions in California and England. In addition, we have a consultant, Wayne Milford helping us build the brewery. Wayne is the co-founder and Brewmaster at Beer Mason Project in Pennsylvania and former head brewer at Dogfish Head Brewery.
Will you add a tasting room to the location?
Yes, we also plan to package in 1/2bbl and 1/6bbl kegs, growler fills and canning.
Distribution goals? Hawaii only? Mainland? International?
We plan to self distribute in Maui. We will evaluate our options if needed to distribute outside of Maui.
The local brewing scene has exploded recently. How will you deal with increased local competition?
The Craft Beer industry in Hawaii is united by strong relationships and common interests and we help each other for the better of craft beer.
What kind of beers will you brew?
We have a variety of beers, we will focus on quality, easy, smooth drinking beers. We have a Pale Ale, German Style Pilsner, German Style Weissbier, Imperial Rye IPA and Southern English Style Brown Ale.
What do you want Kohola Brewery to be known for?
We will try to brew the best beer that we can. We will mainly focus on quality. We use the best quality of hops and grains. Our goal is to brew extraordinary world class beers driven by our passion for brewing and love for Hawaii. Koholā Brewery will be a place for people to enjoy and appreciate craft beer, as an extraordinary beverage, and a place where the art of brewing is respected.
Sometime in the last quarter of 2015. We have a crowd funding campaign going at http://www.gofundme.com/koholabrewery. Check us out at koholabrewery.com, www.facebook.com/koholabrewery, Instagram and Twitter @koholabrewery