Tapping into Heritage and Hope on Maui

Tapping into Heritage and Hope on Maui

Lahaina – Royal Capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom

“Our Lahaina!”

“Our Lahaina!” My sister’s text hit me like a shovel to the back of my head. The town was gone. Just gone. Although my sister and I grew up on the island of Oahu, home to Honolulu and Waikiki, we had walked down Front Street of Lāhainā just before the onset of the pandemic. It was my final evening in my home state after visiting every brewery on four different islands as part of my book, Hawai’I Beer: A History of Brewing in Paradise.

We strolled down the streets of the first capital of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi under the shade of a 150 year old Banyan tree the length of a street block, eventually making it to the stonewall as the waves of the Pacific lapped against it. The fire has wiped out the shops where we browsed and the restaurant where we ate dinner. The Banyan tree might survive; the stonewall is now remembered for where people leapt over it to seek refuge in the ocean from the firestorm.

Hundreds of people are still unaccounted for, meaning the death toll will climb above the current number of 114. Over 2000 buildings no longer exist. Those were homes, churches, museums and businesses. Among the businesses that have been lost are breweries.

The beautiful and peaceful view from Maui

“Maui deserved good beer” is what Garrett Marrero, the president and CEO of Maui Brewing Company, said during the interview for my book when I asked why Maui was a good place to start his brewery. He has been one of the strongest community members leading the recovery efforts. His brewery locations all survived. The same cannot be said of Waikiki Brewing Company’s Lāhainā location. Kohola Brewing Company was also completely destroyed. I remember its taproom vividly—the small bar near big warehouse doors is where I chatted with two tourists from Wisconsin about the travels for my book. A cool driftwood coffee table was off to the side. The photos Kohola posted on Instagram of their ruined brewery make me queasy. I can’t bear to remember it that way. And, as a one-time brewery owner, I can empathize with how much of the hard work and love of Kohola’s owners and staff put in to create a special place.

View from Maui Brewing’s patio


Kohola Brewing Company

“Kohola” is the Hawaiian word for humpback whale and whales dive deep then inhale as they resurface. I have no doubt that Kohola and Maui as a whole will breathe and resurface.

We can help. For Kohola Brewing Company, they have a link on their Instagram page to support their staff. Maui Brewing Company has started a national, international “Kōkua” brew, a beer with a recipe that Maui Brewing designed and supplied. “Kōkua” is Hawaiian for “extending support and cooperation.” Any brewery can participate. Encouraging your local brewery to participate would be great. Buying the beer when it’s released will likewise help; 100% of the proceeds will go to charities.

For me, I kōkua by supporting the Maui Humane Society and Art Supplies for Lāhainā. As Maui resurfaces, animals and art can help it breathe again. I hope you’ll find some way to kōkua Maui, too. Mahalo nui loa (Thank you very much).

Paul R. Kan

Donate to Maui wildfire relief; get a free book. Paul is offering to send a free copy of his book, Hawai’i Beer: A History of Brewing in Paradise, to anyone who makes a donation of any amount to help Maui relief.  It’s on the honor system, and people can e-mail Paul at paulrkan@gmail.com, after they’ve made a donation to provide their address. If you’re looking for a beer-related way to support, Maui Brewing has a relief fund that is soliciting donations.

(Please also read Paul R. Kan’s other article about Hawaii and beer here: From Central PA to the Pacific: A Beer Lover’s Hawaiian Journey An Interview with Alexander B. Gates.)

Paul grew up in Hawai’i and knows its unique culture, traditions, and history. He is the author of Hawai’i Beer: A History of Brewing in Paradise, which the North American Guild of Beer Writers awarded second place for Best New Book of 2021. He currently lives in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Paul R. Kan Articles

The following are articles that Paul R. Kan has written here for The Beer Thrillers:

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