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Maui Brewing founder Garrett Marrero on the future of Modern Times: ‘We’re just stoked’

Poway native and Maui Brewing founder Garrett Marrero.
(Courtesy of Maui Brewing Co.)

This October, San Diego’s Modern Times Drinks will become part of Craft Ohana along with Maui Brewing and its distilling arm, Kupu Spirits.

On a recent trip, Poway native and Maui Brewing founder Garrett Marrero learned a sobering fact: the whole beer world is watching him.

In Sligo, Ireland — population: 19,000 humans, 140,000 sheep — he bumped into an Irish brewer. That wasn’t surprising. After all, Marrero seeks out brewers wherever he travels. The brewer’s comments, though, knocked him flat.

“Oh my God,” the Irishman said. “I heard you are buying Modern Times!”

He heard correctly. This October, San Diego’s Modern Times Drinks will become part of Craft Ohana along with Maui Brewing and its distilling arm, Kupu Spirits. While this is a marriage of necessity, Marrero and Jennifer Briggs, Modern Times’ CEO, predict it will be a happy and prosperous union.

Modern Times’ beers “are so well respected in Hawaii and in California,” Marrerro said during a recent visit to San Diego. There may be some layoffs, he acknowledged, but there also will be numerous new job openings. “We would be foolish to close Modern Times, to get rid of the brand and the beer and the people.”

“For the most part,” Briggs said, “everything is working out in what had been a really difficult situation.”

Modern Times had opened a wildly ambitious Anaheim facility — a production brewery, restaurant, swimming pool, gardens and a renovated three-story Craftsman home — months before COVID-19 hit. The financial blow was nearly lethal, and the company could not pay its bills.

After the banks called in Modern Times’ loans, the brewery and its assets — and liabilities — were offered at auction.

“When we learned of this,” Marrero said, “my first reaction was, ‘Goddamn, they have great beer!’”

Marrero insists there’s a shared sensibility, mutual respect and affection between Maui Brewing and Modern Times — “Ohana” is a Hawaiian term for family. Even before Modern Times’ troubles, the two breweries had collaborated on a hazy IPA, pre-pandemic.

Moreover, the new Craft Ohana will enable Maui to brew its beers on the mainland, avoiding skyrocketing shipping costs.

“We were paying $3,000 a container,” Marrero said. “Now it’s $9,000, $10,000, $12,000 a container. It just makes it impossible to ship from Hawaii.”

Maui, which had been distributed in 23 states pre-COVID, was planning to scale back to two or three states. Now, planning to expand and update some Modern Times facilities, Maui is entering 27 states.

It pays to have friends and family — or ohana — on the mainland.

“We’re just stoked,” Marrero said.


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