Hinano’s most valuable flavor comes from the place it takes you in your mind.
Hinano, the beer of Tahiti, first found itself draining down my throat one hot day in Hawai’i. Alas, I’ve not had the privilege as of yet to visit Tahiti, Bora Bora or many of the other South Pacific Islands where it is often served but I plan too.
You can picture it can’t you? A bucket of Hinano bottles poking out of fresh ice, the sexy girl on the label peeking out at you. You are sitting on the deck of your hut built out of over a lagoon. You stare up at a majestic green mountain and palm trees that lean over at crazy angles from the prevailing winds. A bit of sweat rolls down your temple as you crack that first cold beer and take a swig. You feel the cold reward of the brew as it settles in your stomach. Heaven.
Hinano was first released back in 1955 during the Tiurai Festival, the South Pacifics largest and most famous festival held for nearly 3 weeks in July. It had an ABV of 4.0%. Artist, Pierre Heyan, designed the iconic Tahitian girl logo. The brand has slowly built its brand over the past 60 years. Not all years have been kind to the company but it has a rich history. Manulo beer, the first real competition showed up in 1965 and kicked their butt for many years.
In the ensuing years the brand started to distribute to China and Japan and other South Pacific Islands. The beer can be bought in the US at the larger wine and beer specialty super stores. You should call ahead if you are looking for it at whichever retailer is your hometown.
The company has put much attention to art and have progressively updated and used their Tahitian Girl logo as a touchstone to their marketing. Their website highlights numerous artists who’s work can be seen at their website. This is an astute marketing move on their part I believe.
Like many adult beverages half of the flavor comes from the environment you drink it in. My friends at Team Cocktail (clothing retailers) have a shirt that says, “Travel Global, Drink Local”. I like that and it fits here. When I was researching this beer the most common comment was that people did not like their first bottle. They found it average at best. Most went on to say that they actually love the beer now. Of course most of those people drank it by the gallon in some beautiful beach setting in Tahiti or similar. Like I said, flavor comes from the environment as well.
Hinano is classified as an American Lager but it is not your American yellow fizzy water. The beer has more of a sweet malty nose and bready flavor but overall it does not have an overly complex flavor profile. It can be compared to a Spaten Lager from Germany. The beer is clear and pours a nice yellow with thin white head. The modern ABV is 4.9%. The beer is inexpensive for an import, making it a great beer to try.
A beer like Hinano is very typical for a local beer brewed for a small market in a tropical climate. Beers from the smaller Caribbean islands, Mexico, Dominican Republic and Bahamas all take the same approach. Who can blame them, these beers are meant to be served cold in a hot climate. The formula works, why mess with it?
Next time you throw a pool party or head to the beach full of bikinis make the extra effort and take something different, something that came from the heart of the South Pacific. When you pull the beautiful bottles or cans out of your cooler everyone will want one and their first drink will be positive because all of you are having fun.
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Photo Courtesy of JennsAdventures. Visit her blog at: www.jennsadventures.com