Get a Kick Out of Waikīkī Brewing Co.’s Jalapeño Mouth
A new brewery in Waikīkī has some great beer.
Photo: Kawehi Haug
Waikīkī Brewing Co.—not to be confused with Lanikai Brewing Co., Hōkū Brewing Co., Honolulu Beerworks, Brewhaha Brewers (OK, that last one is our own micro-micro brewery that may or may not be located in a closet in our bedroom). The point is: There are a lot of microbreweries out there. And we’ve tried them all. We like beer. As an unofficial rule, we like our beer well aged. All grown up. The kind that’s made by old European dudes that answer to “Herr” or “Monsieur” or “Good Sir.” But that’s not to say that the younger, more hip stuff doesn’t do it for us too, and, when it comes to locally brewed small-batch beer with a decidedly hipper bent (that is, if Franziskaner dunkelweizen is our hipness gauge), we’re happy to report that we think we may have found our go-to local brew house.
Waikīkī Brewing Co., an off-shoot of Cheeseburger Waikīkī, opened in March with a seven-barrel brewery that turns out eight classic American pub beers: an IPA (dubbed “Eee Pah” IPA—the phonetic Hawaiian pronunciation of the acronym “IPA”), a blonde, a pale ale, a hefeweizen, a porter, an English brown ale and two ambers, one of which we can’t stop drinking.
The Jalapeño Mouth beer takes the already super-balanced amber ale and adds jalapeños to the boil, giving it a vibrant green chili aroma right up front, and a perfect little kick of heat at the finish. We’ve had some bad experiences with jalapeño beer in the past, but this one puts us back on the spicy beer bandwagon. We’ve started keeping a gallon growler of the stuff chilling in the fridge just waiting for morning to pass into afternoon, when we feel less judged for drinking our breakfast. But, when our resolve starts to crumble (it’s been known to happen), we’ve found a workaround that saves face: We add bloody mary mix to the beer. Boom. Breakfast beer. It’s the very best beer for making a michelada. A perfect match if ever there was one.
If you’re not into mixing your own beer cocktails, Waikīkī Brewing Co. will do it for you. The cocktail menu includes its own Jalapeño Mouth michelada and an exceptional shandy made with our other favorite WBC beer: the Hana Hou Hefe, a hefeweizen brightened by the addition of oranges and strawberries. Bring on the summer. We’ve also been known to get a growler or two of the English Brown Ale, a nutty, roasty ale that’s a wee bit English and a whole lot American.
The bar’s menu is, of course, created to pair perfectly with the beers, and also uses the brews as ingredients. Don’t leave without trying the sausage and falafel sliders. The bun, the sausage and the falafel are all made with the spent grain from the beer-brewing process, and they’re all good. Also a must try: the pretzel-crusted cheese sticks and the deep-fried sweet pickles.
Waikīkī Brewing Co. is right next door to Cheeseburger Waikīkī, where Ala Moana Boulevard and Kalākaua Avenue meet, with a pint-size parking lot on the property. The brewery itself is literally about 10 feet away from the bar where the beer is tapped, giving customers a front-row seat to the brewing action, with brewmasters at the ready to explain the whole process. They’ve even clearly labeled every piece of equipment to aid in the learning process. Wasting away in beerville? Hardly. More like spending your days broadening your horizons.
Waikīkī Brewing Co., 1945 Kalākaua Ave., beers $6.50, beer cocktails from $8, small plates from $6, waikikibrewing.com.