First Look: Growler USA Honolulu in Kapahulu

This new pub offers 100 all-American craft beers on tap. Oh, and some food, too.
The concept at Growlers USA Honolulu is simple: lots of craft beer and food TO MATCH—including these hawaiian pork sliders smothered in a stout barbecue sauce.                                    
Photos: Catherine Toth Fox


Before Bill Muneno opened Growler USA Honolulu in Kapahulu last week, he wasn’t much of a craft beer drinker.


“I knew what it was and that it was a growing category,” says Muneno, who confesses his beer of choice was Coors Light or Bud Light. “Five years ago, the craft beer area [at grocery stores] was small. Now it’s blowing up.”


That was part of the reason Muneno, who spent the past 18 years as a sales manager with Coca-Cola in Honolulu, decided to open the first Hawai‘i franchise location for national chain Growler USA. (More are planned for Hawai‘i, Muneno says.)


He also thought it would just be plain fun.


“Beer joints are fun places to be, so that’s why I settled on this,” says Muneno, who’s the brother of KHON anchor Kathy Muneno. “I want to have fun.”


Inside the spacious pub, which opened last week. It occupies the space vacated by Hee Hing Restaurant.


Growler USA Honolulu features 100 taps, all dedicated to American-made beverages including local brews, cold-pressed coffee and hand-crafted root beer.


Growler USA Honolulu, located in the old Hee Hing Restaurant space on Kapahulu Avenue, is the fifth one to open nationally. The concept is simple: It’s a microbrew pub with 100 taps, all dedicated to American-made beverages. Pubs serve local brews, as well as hard cider, wine, hand-crafted root beer, cold-pressed coffee and kombucha tea. (This particular pub also serves soda from Waialua Soda Works.)


The beer menu is 100 deep, all served on tap, with brews from local favorites Maui Brewing Co., Kona Brewing Co. and Waikīkī Brewing Co. But there are some fun options including Laguintas Czech Style Pils, New Belgium Citradelic Tangerine IPA, Midnight Sun Arctic Rhino Coffee Porter, Breakside Passionfruit Sour and Ballast Point Watermelon Dorado IPA. (Right now, Muneno’s favorite is Ballast Point Sculpin IPA. He’s learning, he says.) You can order 5-ounce samplers, standard pints, 32-ounce growlers and 60-ounce pitchers. You can also bring your own growler to purchase beer to take home.


The company has a standard menu of pub fare including oven-roasted chicken wings, an Asian chicken salad, blackened mahi tacos, Bavarian pretzels sticks and beer brat gyros. But each franchise can add regional favorites, too. At the Honolulu pub, you can get blackened ‘ahi served with a shoyu dipping sauce and a side of wasabi (market price); ‘ahi poke with avocado, shoyu, fresh ginger, diced jalapeño and sesame oil (market price); and the Spam burger topped with balsamic glazed veggies, provolone cheese, lettuce and tomato on a brioche bun ($10).


The menu also features four pub flatbreads ($9 to $10) made with naan tandoori crusts with various toppings including bacon-chicken ranch or slices of beer brats with mushrooms, peppers, onions and a Dijon mustard drizzle.


Much of the menu, including this Asian chicken salad, is the same at other franchises across the country. But Honolulu’s location offers some unique-to-the-Islands dishes, too.


Muneno added ‘ahi poke to the menu. It comes with avocado, shoyu, fresh ginger, diced jalapeño and sesame oil.


Also unique to the Honolulu location is the surprisingly delicious Spam burger topped with balsamic glazed veggies, provolone cheese, lettuce and tomato on a brioche bun.


The Growler Mac & Cheese features rotini pasta covered in a four-cheese sauce and can be topped with beer brats, shredded pork or oven-roasted chicken.


Muneno didn’t stress too much about the science behind beer pairings, saying everything tastes good with beer. And he’s probably right. Most of the dishes are basic pub fare—tater tots, chicken wings, pork sliders—that make for easy noshing with an ice-cold draft beer. But some, particularly the Spam burger and flatbreads, are actually fun to eat.


“There are no rules [for beer pairings],” Muneno says. “Just feel free to play and find whatever suits you.”


Hee Hing Plaza, 449 Kapahulu Ave., Suite 105,


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