Primo Brewing & Malting Co. today announced that for the first time in more than a decade, Primo Island Lager will be made available in select bars and retail locations throughout California and parts of Nevada. A mainstay of Hawaii and surf scenes, production of Primo began again in its home state of Hawaii in 2007. Due to popular demand that reached across the Pacific Ocean, Primo is now returning to the mainland US.
While the name and imagery of the iconic Primo brand will stay the same, the flavor has been updated to be more in line with today’s beer consumer. The new Primo Island Lager has the rare combination of craft-brewed richness with the smooth taste of traditional American lagers. Primo’s recipe is entirely unique, using a blend of 95 percent malt and five percent raw Hawaiian cane from Maui Sugar Co., the last raw-cane producing company in Hawaii. This blend delivers a brew that is more flavorful and at the same time, still very refreshing. Primo also uses two distinct varieties of noble hops that impart a subtle spicy aroma, setting the beer apart from leading import brands and other domestic lagers.
The recipe was derived by two award-winning brewmasters, Phil Markowski and Bob Newman. Markowski brews at Southampton Publick House, while Newman is the two-time “Brewmaster of the Year” recipient at the Great American Beer Festival. The two consulted with native Hawaiians and true watermen to help refine the new taste of Primo. Big wave champions, Shane Dorian and Keoni Watson, along with other Hawaiian watermen, helped the brewmasters determine the taste of today’s Primo during numerous beach-tasting sessions that led to the final recipe.
Primo’s return is due in part to the Pabst Brewing Co., which owns the Primo brand. Absent from the beer market since 1997, Primo also tapped local brewery, Keoki Brewing, to assist in the production Primo Island Lager.
“Primo is one of the only modern brews that has a legitimate Hawaiian history, with roots that go back to 1897. When we decided to bring Primo back, it was important that we worked with and received approval from the locals and watermen to make sure this was a beer people of the islands would enjoy and be proud of,” said Kyle Wortham, senior brand manager at Primo Brewing & Malting Co. “The reception that the new Primo received in Hawaii last year was overwhelming and we’ve heard increasing demand for the beer from California and beyond.”
Surfers and Watermen Guide The Relaunch From Hawaii to California
Shane Dorian and Keoni Watson recruited a team of tight-knit watermen and kamaaina (longtime Hawaiian residents) to consult on everything from the formula and packaging to the best surf breaks for shooting many of the photos used in Primo’s advertising.
Joining in representing Primo’s aloha heritage is longtime Maui resident and DAKINE surf team manager, Micah Nickens. The crew finished out the team by tapping into renowned big-wave riders, Brad Gerlach and Chris Malloy, to help ensure that Primo’s authenticity is carried through to the mainland.
“Staying true to the beer’s Hawaii roots is a top priority for Primo and we’re stoked to be a part of the team,” commented Dorian. “It’s one of those beers that connects people, everyone who has ever experienced Primo has a story to tell about it. I know our ohana and friends in California are excited to be able to drink Primo again. I think anyone who is a fan of Hawaii will enjoy Primo beer.”
Part of Primo’s relaunch includes a commitment to support the environment and culture of Hawaii. A portion of all Primo sales will go towards the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation and the Hawaiian chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.
About Primo Brewing & Malting Co.
Primo Brewing & Malting Co. was founded in 1897 as Honolulu Brewing & Malting Co. and has been an integral part of Hawaiian lore since. The Company is a division of Pabst Brewing Co. of Woodridge, Illinois. Pabst was founded in 1844 and produces many fine quality beers around the country such as Pabst Blue Ribbon, Schlitz, Lone Star and McSorley’s Ales. For more information about Primo beer, visit www.primobeer.com.