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Business Monday: Ola Brew partners with Symbrosia to create low-methane burger in honor of Earth Day

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In honor of Earth Day, Ola Brew is partnering with local startup company Symbrosia to offer — for the first time — a low-methane burger.

Made from livestock fed a red seaweed food additive that reduced its methane emissions, emitted through burps, the meat will replace the grass-fed beef in Ola Brew’s tasty Smash Burger.

Starting today, the taprooms in Hilo and Kona will offer the Smash Burger — Earth Day edition — while supplies last. Aside from two three-ounce low-methane patties, the burger will be layered with its typical condiments: the signature Ola sauce, housemade pickles, lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. Cost will remain the same.

Naehalani Breeland, co-founder and president of Ola Brew, said this partnership is a pilot program and an example for other cattle companies to partner with Symbrosia so that the local tap house can source the meat. She thinks the supply will last about four days.

“If we can incorporate limu kohu (red seaweed) and get all the cows on the island and in the state (on the diet) that would be huge,” Breeland said.

Founded in 2019, Symbrosia’s creation of the food additive, also known as “SeaGraze,” has been fed to 160 cows between Oregan and Hawai‘i Island. The Kona-based company’s goal is to have one million cows on the diet by 2030.

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Heather Remo, head of marketing at Symbrosia, said this partnership with Ola Brew marks a bold leap into a more sustainable way of farming and eating.

“A low-methane burger directly tackles one of the biggest environmental challenges we face: livestock methane emissions,” Remo said. “This isn’t just about making a smaller carbon footprint; it’s about setting a new standard that we hope will inspire the entire food and beverage industry.”

Breeland met Alexia Akbay, chief executive officer for Symbrosia, during an event in Kona. She learned about the company’s successful study in reducing livestock methane.

“I learned her story, and it was really inspiring to see her dedication to the environment in a very particular way,” Breeland said, adding she was blown away by her ingenuity and the whole process of feeding cows this red algae to lower methane emissions.

Symbrosia explains cows produce methane by burping.

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“These livestock burps account for an astounding 6% of Earth’s current warming,” Symbrosia stated on its website. “This means that if cows were a country, they would produce just about as much GHG ( greenhouse gas) as the entire European Union.”

According to Symbrosia’s study, a 28-day trial revealed that six out of 12 cows fed SeaGraze reduced 75% of the livestock’s burps.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, methane is a primary component of natural gas. It’s also present greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, which is affecting the earth’s temperature and climate system.

“Because methane is both a powerful greenhouse gas and short-lived compared to carbon dioxide, achieving significant reductions would have a rapid and significant effect on atmospheric warming potential,” the EPA states.

Breeland said she cares about the environment and sees this partnership with Symbrosia as an easy way for people to help the earth.

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Ola Brew has a mission to support the growth of agriculture and livestock in Hawai‘i. Breeland said the business has spent $2.2 million over the years in local agriculture and purchased from 140 farmers to date.

Breeland said the taproom sources all kinds of locally sourced fruits — pineapple, dragon fruit, guava, lilikoi, mango, lemongrass and others — for the hard juices and teas.

“We made the switch from hard cider to juice because apple isn’t local,” she explained.

The Ola Brew and Symbrossia collaboration adds an extra layer of excitement to this venture, Remo said. This partnership is more than a business match—it’s a shared vision for a sustainable future, proving that local initiatives can indeed spark global change.

“Together, we’re not just launching a new product; we’re sowing the seeds for a movement that fosters real, lasting impact on how our food is produced and enjoyed, paving the way for a healthier planet,” Remo said.

The goal is to have it on the low-methane burger on the Ola Brew menu all the time.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a full-time reporter for Pacific Media Group. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat.

Tiffany can be reached at [email protected].
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