Maui Brewing Company issued warning over sanitizer giveaway

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) — The Maui County Liquor Control Department has issued a written notice of warning to Maui Brewing Company after an investigation revealed the company violated state law by advertising free hand sanitizer with the sale of liquor.

The department released a statement about the notice following its investigation last month into the company's made-in-house hand sanitizer and giveaway promotions, The Maui News reported Friday.

“It is short of subjecting Maui Brewing to an adjudicatory hearing,” the department said.

Maui Brewing CEO Garrett Marrero has said the company — which sells food, alcoholic beverages, coffee, soda and merchandise — did not violate rules.

Maui Brewing had offered a free 16-ounce (455-gram) hand sanitizer with the purchase of any to-go item, not just alcohol, after its Kihei and Lahaina restaurant locations closed in March amid the coronavirus pandemic. But the giveaway promotion was flagged by the state liquor department and led to an investigation.

The company followed government guidelines to create hand sanitizer using liquid from whiskey and gin distillation but stopped giving it away once the investigation began, Marrero said. During the promotion, Maui Brewing was also giving hand sanitizer to first responders and those in need.

“If anything, Liquor (department) turned a donated item into a profit item,” he said.

Maui Brewing began charging a fee for the hand sanitizer, which costs $5 for a prepackaged 16-ounce (455-gram) bottle or $35 for a 1-gallon (3.8-liter) jug.

Marrero believes the warning means the department and the company have come to a resolution.

“It seems like they’re not going to pursue the investigation, where they found that we did violate the law, but that they are going to give us a warning instead,” Marrero said. “It seems like that’s a resolution at least, so that we can move forward.”

Maui Brewing is offering to-go pickups only at its Kihei location from 2 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Friday and Saturday.