Brew History: Primo

Some nice historical info about legendary Primo beer. I always heard that it was awesome when it was brewed locally, but then lost its special taste after moving to the mainland.

This historical piece about Primo is on a tourist site, of all places.

Eventually, the cost of production on Hawaii was too much, and in 1979 the canning operations were moved to the mainland - some great deals on used packaging machinery probably ensued! Primo beer lost its appeal to the locals as the jobs went with the canning operations, and the Hawaii tourists lost their reason to support the brand. Primo struggled on for some time in other markets, and was eventually discontinued in 1997.

The version I recall tasting in the 1990s was average at best. Boy, what I wouldn't give to taste the original Primo beer right now. Funny how Schlitz, which owned Primo, has also disappeared over the years. Maybe Schlitz was bought out by one of the kingpins, which is the norm. This site below has a summary of Schlitz's history.

Chiptin on Schlitz/Primo

Schlitz officially acquired the Hawaii Brewing Company from Beatrice Foods also in 1964 and by the next year, Primo beer sales had climbed at a phenomenal rate and this operation then began to run on a 24-hour basis. Primo made brewery history by gradually capturing 70% of the Hawaiian beer market, holding this position until 1971.

In 1965 ground was broken in Hawaii for a new brewery. As the old Primo brewery was phased out the new one produced and shipped its first barrel in 1966.

This explains, in an indirect way, that low-cost beer is not a feasible expectation in the islands. I just came back from Foodland, and all the locally made brews are in the $10 range for a 6-pack. I don't mind paying that much, but I always look for the sale items first along with singles since I never drink more than one (regular or large) bottle a night.

From Mehana to Kona Brewing, all the local brews I've had in recent months are excellent. Surpringly so, since beer is supposedly difficult to brew in warm weather.


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