Primo Returns

After discontinuing Primo Beer in Hawaii and on the mainland due to poor sales in 1998, the beer is being reintroduced by Primo Brewing & Malting Co., a division of Pabst Brewing Co.

Keoki Brewing Co., Hawaii’s second-biggest beer maker after Kona Brewing Co., is expanding its Lihue facilities in part to help produce Primo, said Andy Baker, one of Keoki’s managing partners. It is the first outside brewing contract for the company. The company will add three fermenters by next month and will supply the draft version of Primo to an anticipated 30-40 Oahu bars and restaurants during the second week of December. Draft production is initially expected to reach 200 kegs a month.

The beer will be available in bottles throughout the state by this spring. Bottle production will take place under a contract with Miller Brewing Co. at Miller’s Southern California plant.

Primo’s logo, which depicts a warrior head, is almost a replica of the one used in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, Wortham said.

Primo Beer was in production from 1898 until Prohibition by Honolulu Brewing & Malting Co. Renamed Hawaii Brewing Co., the company resumed making Primo in 1934 until closing in 1979.

Detroit-based Stroh Brewery Co., which has since been purchased by Pabst, acquired the Primo brand in 1982 and tried to improve the formula.