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The History of Hinano

Hinano on the Beach, PHOTO: La Nación

Hinano, Tahiti’s national beer, was born in the heart of the South Pacific and has a great deal of history and culture behind it. It was first created in 1955 and launched during the Heiva I Tahiti in July (then known as the Tiurai festival). Since this year’s Heiva I Tahiti is going on right now, we thought we’d crack open a beer with you and share the story behind the Hinano we all know and love.

Hinano - Past and Present, PHOTO: Hinano

Hinano – Past and Present, PHOTO: Hinano

The Beer

Hinano has been around for nearly 60 years. It was created in 1955 and launched by Yves Martin during the island’s annual festival, Heiva I Tahiti. Soon after, it achieved international recognition and expanded its distribution to China in 1960, Japan in 1991, and France in 1992.

Today, Hinano is known for being a deluxe lager with a light, golden color and a slightly bitter taste. It’s made with 5.0% alcohol content and brewed at a highly advanced production site in the Punaruu Valley of Tahiti, Brasserie de Tahiti. This advanced technology guarantees its quality; and Hinano was even awarded with a Gold Medal at the Luxembourg International Beer Awards in Brussels in 1993.

Although we recommend trying Hinano for the first time when you’re in Tahiti, you can also find it in England, France, Japan, Wallis and Futuna, New Caledonia, Hawaii and California.

The Label

The art on Hinano’s label was first designed in 1953 by a Swedish artist named Pierre Heyman. It featured the now-famous vahine (Tahitian for “woman” or “girl”) and was initially engraved on each glass bottle. A few years later, the symbol was adapted by Pierre Pothier and printed on the first paper label in 1957.

Since then, this iconic logo has gone through a number of slight modifications, but the basic design has remained the same since its inception. The latest update was in 2005, marking the 50th anniversary of the beer. In addition, the labels or cans themselves often change for special events. Over the years, Hinano has released a range of collector bottles and cans, including designs for the Heiva I Tahiti — the event responsible for first launching the brand.

Hinano Collector Cans

The Name

Hinano is actually the name of a white, tropical flower that comes from the male Pandanus plant. Indigenous to the South Pacific, this palm-like tree has a very distinctive appearance because of its thick, spreading roots that are visible above the soil. The leaves of the plant are frequently woven into items such as hats and baskets; but most notably, they are used to construct the roofs of most overwater bungalows in the region.

Pandanus Plant, PHOTO: David Eickhoff

Pandanus Plant, PHOTO: David Eickhoff

In addition, Hinano is one of the most popular first names used in French Polynesia. When Yves Martin was seeking a name for his beer, he wanted a Polynesian word that was easy to say in most common languages (i.e. Tahitian, French and English), so he opted for the name Hinano.

The Song

Hinano even has a theme song dedicated to the brand. “Oe Hinano,” which originated in 1955 when the beer first launched, boasts the lyrics: “Hinano, Hinano, it’s the beer we need.”  The song was composed by Yves Roche and originally performed by Alain Mottel. Here’s a version by the Tahitian group, Tamarii Punaruu:

Here’s also a modified version of “Oe Hinano” from 1989, performed by singer Andy Tupaia:

In 2005, to coincide with the beer’s 50th anniversary, the company hosted the “Oe Hinano” Song Contest, giving professional and amateur singers the opportunity to remake the original version of the song. The grand prize was awarded to a local group named Les Métis, which consisted of two girls from Tahiti’s peninsula area. Their version of the song, however, is not available online.

The Lifestyle

Beyond the beer, Hinano has become a complete lifestyle brand in Tahiti, with a line of inspired clothing and apparel for both men and women. The brand sponsors a number of athletes and events and is very much integrated into the everyday life and culture of French Polynesia.

Even though you can try Hinano in other parts of the world, we recommend drinking it first in Tahiti. The flavor is only enhanced by the environment you’re in, and Hinano was meant to be enjoyed on a tropical beach or a private “motu” while watching the sunset or enjoying an afternoon in the sun. From there on out, the flavor will forever remind you of your time in paradise.

Cheers!

Hinano on the Beach, PHOTO: Fab Virge

Hinano on the Beach, PHOTO: Fab Virge

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16 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jeanine #

    Love Hinano! Great logo.

    July 5, 2012
  2. Conchado #

    Tried Hinano for the first time in Tahiti. Now I won’t drink it anywhere else!

    July 9, 2012
  3. Claudine #

    Hinano, Hinano! I love the added musical element in your post today. Thanks for sharing!

    July 11, 2012
  4. Derek Ruva #

    Great photo at the end! Craving a beer on the beach….

    July 15, 2012
  5. Theo Schroeder #

    I could use an ice cold one right now!

    July 15, 2012
  6. Fabvirge #

    Thanks for the photo credit.

    July 27, 2012
  7. arthur #

    terrific stuff! i really like to read this sort of stuff daily.

    August 5, 2012
  8. Jane #

    thanks for the great post!

    August 8, 2012
  9. carolina_crc #

    nice article.

    August 17, 2012
  10. Emily Bousman #

    Wow, amazing blog! The content is wonderful.

    September 30, 2012
  11. This is a really neatly written article. Thank you for the post. I will certainly return.

    November 8, 2012
  12. Allan #

    Great post, really enjoyed it!
    — Allan

    December 18, 2012
  13. Lawrence. B. King #

    I drank Hinano beer in Tahiti in 1962. I see the the present alcohol content of the beer is now 5.0%. I seem to remember it being much stronger in 1962. Am I correct?

    May 9, 2013
    • nicolegriffith #

      Hi, Lawrence. It was actually lower. Hinano launched in 1955 with 4.0% alcohol content. It wasn’t until 1990 that it increased to 4.9%. There have been a few stronger specialty beers since then, including the Hinano “Matahiti Api” at 6.0% in 1995, and the Hinano “Tiurai” at 6.5% in 1996. Source: Hinano.com

      May 9, 2013
  14. I live in Hawaii and love the taste of Hinano, Tahiti’s national beer
    I was wondering if you know how fresh or should I say organic or non gmo or non Glyphosate [round up] the beer is.
    Here in Maui we rejected Monsanto but they still invade
    do they have any influence there in Tahiti
    by the way when I visited Mo’orea 10 years ago I thought it was very beautiful.

    March 2, 2016
  15. I collect hinano beer labels and coasters – do you have any for exchange or sell ?

    March 13, 2017

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