Cold Water Brewery creating new beer, participating in Kokua Project to support Maui during wildfires

Madison Schultz and Robert Galloway
Debbie Brown, was the owner and founder of Cold Water Brewery.
Rob Galloway / Tahoe Daily Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Living in the mountains, the presence of potential wildfires is always looming, and Lake Tahoe communities are quite familiar with the scarcity and devastation that wildfires can cause. In support of the recent wildfires in Hawaii, local restaurant and brewery, Cold Water Brewery, is stepping up to the plate, participating in the newly announced Kokua Project, as well as creating a special Tropical Hazy IPA beer to further support and donate to victims of the fires in Maui. 

Hosted by Maui Brewing, the Kokua Project is inviting breweries and brewers from around the world to make a beer that benefits those who have been impacted by the recent wildfires. Upon announcement of the Kokua Project, owner and founder of Cold Water Brewery, Debbie Brown, was eager to show up, participate in brewing, to share that South Lake Tahoe is “Tahoe-Maui strong.” 

“So far, we have enrolled in participating in the Kokua Project, and we are working hand-in-hand with the Brewers Association, waiting for the direction from Maui Brewing Co. on how to proceed,” Brown said. “Our goal is to collaborate with our South Shore local breweries and to brew a beer that we can start getting in the tanks.” 

While the brewing process isn’t overnight and they are waiting on direction from Maui Brewing Co., Cold Water Brewery has already taken action at the local level, creating a new Tropical Hazy IPA that will be distributed to three other participating breweries in South Lake Tahoe: South Lake Brewing Company, Sidellis Lake Tahoe, and South of North Brewing Co., for proceeds from sales of this new Hazy IPA to be donated to the victims in Maui. 

“All four breweries will have this new beer on tap, and all of these locations will have a jar that’s put out that asks for people while they’re showing up and supporting their local brewery, to show up and support Hawaii, too,” Brown said. “We are going to make sure we keep continuously brewing it to keep it available and to continue fundraising efforts.”

With four South Lake Tahoe-based breweries planning to have this new Tropical Hazy IPA on tap, Brown is hoping that this collaborative effort will continuously show support for the wildfire victims and Maui for the foreseeable future. 

“I want to make sure that we are starting the charge, putting the energy out there, that we reach out to their base and generations of family that have been on that island, and continue to support Maui not just right now, but continue to support them in the aftermath of these fires too,” Brown said. 

Brown reflects on the wildfires that have been taking control in Maui, and acknowledges the similarities between communities such as Lake Tahoe and Lahaina, sharing that many Tahoe locals share similar devotion to the islands as they do for the mountains. 

“For so many of us that live in fire country, and having gone through the Caldor Fire and other nearby fires over the years, it’s near and dear to all of our hearts,” Brown said. “The PTSD that you get when you hear about a major fire reverberates throughout our community; for all of us locals, this is very real.”

Brown continues, acknowledging that the devastation of the wildfires in Maui is something that many Tahoe locals sympathize with.

“My dream was to always open a second Cold Water Brewery location in Maui,” Brown said. “So many of us have a connection to the islands when living in Lake Tahoe. I think that people in Tahoe absolutely love all the islands of Hawaii.”

With Cold Water Brewery planning to participate in the Kokua Project, they are eagerly waiting on what the process will be to show their support. Maui Brewing Co. got the inspiration for the Kokua Project from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s Resilience Project that was put in place to support the victims of the Camp Fire that occurred in 2018 in Paradise, Calif. The Camp Fire was the deadliest U.S. wildfire in history, burning over 240 square miles, and taking 85 lives; until the recent Lahaina Fire, which has claimed over 106 lives, as of Aug. 16. 

“The Kokua Project will be one beer, brewed by many, to support the people of Maui with 100% of proceeds going to Legacy of Aloha, Makai Foundation, and Maui Brewing Co. Fire Fund,” Garrett Marrero, founder of Maui Brewing Co. wrote in a press release announcing the Kokua Project. 

Maui Brewing announced the Kokua Project on Aug. 15, and Brown immediately resonated, wanting to participate and support however she could on behalf of the Cold Water Brewery team, and on behalf of Lake Tahoe as a whole community, continuing to spread the word to be “Tahoe-Maui Strong.”

With the decimating wildfires occurring in Maui, Brown reflects on the uncertainty that was felt back in 2021 during the Caldor Fire that was knocking on South Lake Tahoe’s front door, and is using that to fuel herself in wanting to extend out a helping hand. 

“The power of the Tahoe community wanting to do something is deeply felt throughout our community,” Brown said. “During the Caldor Fire, Cold Water stayed until the very end, putting food on the line for first responders and helping with the City’s station and command post. This is something that we can actually do to participate in helping, which is powerful.” 

Cold Water Brewery is taking an extra step to help immediately with fundraising efforts at the Tahoe local level, showing the support that Cold Water Brewery has for victims and the communities in Maui. Cold Water Brewery encourages the local community to show up to their local breweries, have a new Tropical Hazy IPA, and donate to the wildfire fundraiser. 

For more information on Cold Water Brewery, visit: For more information on the Kokua Project, visit:

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