“OUTSIDE!” came a sarcastic shout. “CHOPES!” came another. It was a frigid January afternoon on the 13 mile long New Hampshire coast. Epic conditions of 1-2 foot Hawaiian, top to bottom miniature close outs with 6 millimeters of smelly neoprene covering my brother, Craft Beard, and I from head to heel.
Chopes is corny surf shorthand for Teahupo’o which is a surf break in Tahiti known as one of the heaviest waves in the world. This NH day had many similar characteristics to a Code Red day in French Polynesia which is to say it had absolutely nothing in common. Why do I make this circular, nonsensical parallel? Because Tahiti has somehow managed to play a role in my life without ever having visited. So when I saw this Hinano Gold brewed in Pape’ete, I had to have it.
In college, I attempted to sell actual snake-oil under the brand name Tahitian Noni Juice. I think it was made from some mystical fruit named Noni that only grew in Tahiti and could give you super powers. Except I had to buy it on auto-ship, by the case, and then sell it. After acquiring 6 dozen bottles and not selling a 1, I moved on.
My wife and I wanted to go to Tahiti for our honeymoon. She had a gazillion frequent flyer miles from her consulting job so we figured it would be easy. Wrong. Plane tickets to this far flung speck of sand cost 1 gazillion miles PLUS a whole bunch of money.
And then of course the regular, oddball comments during tiny surf sessions with my brother as noted above. He has since gone on to become a pretend pro-surfer (says so in his Instagram bio) and I am left to drink this beer in hopes that it will transport me there vicariously.
I drank it on a November day in Switzerland so safe to say it wasn’t as though I was on the island. But as you can see by my professional photograph, I was able to mind surf the wave whilst enjoying the brew. A simple lager, this beer gave me essence of lightly sweetened apple juice with a plate full of hay and cut grass on the finish. Overall, something of a vegetabley flavor but not in a bad way. It pours golden in color with a thin head. The body was light and with an ABV of just 5% it was easy drinking.
This beer won gold medals for something in Luxembourg in 1990 and Brussels in 1993 according to the website. And I’m going to assume, since the brewery is on the island, it’s made with island water. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing but I’m suggesting it is because it means you’re drinking a bottle of Tahiti. One day I’ll make it there but in the meantime I’ll continue to scream “CHOPES!” at awkward times in the lineup.
P.S. This article is not to say the surf in New Hampshire is lame. On the contrary, it can be epic. Make sure to check out Cinnamon Rainbows in Hampton if you’re in the area.