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Imports on a roll.

Overall growth rates may be stowing, but imports are still cruising to higher levels.

Favorable economic and consumer trends are continuing to drive the imported beer segment this year. While the growth dropped from double-digits to single digits in 99 (imports grew 14% in '97, 15% in '98 and 9% in '99) many importers are hoping to return to double digits in 2000. Analyst Robert S. Weinberg of St. Louis isn't sure they'll make it. "Last year at the National Beer Wholesalers Association meeting when I said that imports wouldn't reach double digits in 1999 a hush fell over the crowd," he says. "I don't think this will be a double-digit year either, although the first few months look good."

It is logical that the growth rate of imports would decline as we proceed. The volume base for imports has increased, and continues to increase, so it will be more difficult to get the higher overall percentage growth numbers seen in the past.

For the current year, Weinberg recommends looking to the immediate past. "For planning, I typically tell people to use last year's numbers," Weinberg says. "And I don't know why the imports would go crazy at this point, so I would say that the growth rate will be approximately the same as last year. No one knows anything until the 2nd and 3rd quarter data is in. In the beer business, the first and fourth quarters are almost fictitious."

Nonetheless, with micros sidelined, imports are leading the high-price charge into the general market. "High-priced beer will increase," Weinberg says, "The interest in flavor beers was rekindled by the domestic specialty players, but then in came the imports. The first tier brewers now have to be saying 'can we tolerate this?' and examining a reentry into the superpremium category It remains to be seen how Anheuser's foray into ersatz imports and competitive products will do. The trends I speak about for high-price are pretty well established (see charts, pages 10-11) but as traditional beers become higher in price, it could have an adverse effect on the growth of high-price."

Mike Johnson, director for above premium brands and strategy for the Miller Brewing Company, sees great continued potential in the higher priced segment. "Whether it's super premium or craft or imports," he says, "we think there is tremendous opportunity for above-premium brands. In the U.S. we are seeing better demographics for the beer industry. We never know what will happen with the economy, but we are projecting that the above premium segment will continue to grow."

In a strong U.S. economy, rapid growth for higher-priced consumer goods has certainly been the rule rather than the exception. "People in this economy are willing to pay more for what they perceive to be superior products," says Dan Tearno, vice president of communications for Heineken U.S.A. "It's not only happening in beer, but in ice cream, and coffee and automobiles. Value is now important, not just price. As long as consumer confidence is strong, these factors will be in place."

Today's favorable economic and consumer trends coincide with the rise of very powerful import purveyors. Importers, once mostly small and independent, are now large and linked to multi-national parent companies. These companies can bring enormous resources to bear on the market, manifested in professional sales forces, executive acumen and increasingly visible advertising. "These people are very good at what they do," Mr. Weinberg notes.

With the exception of the companies handling Corona, the other top import brands are backed by large brewery suppliers. These companies are the ones seeing most of the volume growth, and these trend lines are likely to continue, at least in part because market access is not an issue for them. Some of the big brands are powerful enough to transcend share-of-mind concerns. In other cases, distribution partnerships with big brewers will insulate the brands from the crowded marketplace. For these companies, a place at the table is guaranteed.

Heineken U.S.A. is an example of an importer in partnership with a major brewer. The company has inked a distribution agreement with Miller Brewing Co., linking its fortunes to the number two distribution network in the country. "Access to market is critical," says Dan Tearno of Heineken, "and it will become more critical in the next few years. Our network will be stronger and better as a result of our quality agreement with our wholesalers. Our programs are designed to be responsive to wholesalers, with initiatives that will make us a more efficient supplier to wholesalers."

With Anheuser-Busch wholesalers under share-of-mind constraints, and Miller partnered up, life in the constricted distribution channel can be frustrating for smaller importers, like Joe Heller at Veltins U.S.A. "The major domestic players have done the best job they could to inhibit distributors from acquiring brands outside the family," Joe says. "You look at a distributor's portfolio, and you tell him 'my brand would fit well' and he tells you 'my supplier doesn't want me to carry other brands.' So we're locked out."

Joe and other small importers report that its more difficult to even get into see many wholesalers, much less land a spot on their trucks. "When I started with Warsteiner in 1990, everyone was in acquisition mode," Heller recalls. "It was easy to get in to see people. Now distributors are definitely thinning out the herd."

Wine and liquor houses are picking up some errant brands, and specialty distributors a few others. But although specialty distributors have started in a few affluent, high-density urban markets, the jury is still out on whether wholesalers handling low-volume brands--even high-margin low volume brands--can make a go of it long-term.

It is a topic that is increasingly at the forefront for some of the best minds in the industry. Robert S. Weinberg is currently working on a paper titled "QWERTY and malt beverage distribution." What is QWERTY?, the reader asks. Examine the first letter keys on a typewriter, and there it is--QWERTY, an odd, seemingly illogical line-up of letters. "The standard universal keyboard is an example why change cannot take place," Weinberg says, "even though the need for change is obvious. The U.S. Navy did a study on changing the universal keyboard in the 1940s and found that the savings gained in productivity would cover the costs of changing the keyboard in very short period. But it didn't happen. In the current situation in the brewing industry, micro and specialty beers cannot get good distribution, since the beer distribution system is geared to serve a handful of large brewers. I think if one thinks about the typewriter analogy, by the same token you could design a beer distribution system that could better a ccommodate specialty beer. There are probably more than a few brilliant beer wholesalers who have had the misfortune to represent brands that are leaving the market. There were some very sharp Schlitz distributors, for example, who were gone when Schlitz was gone. Out of that pool, perhaps it would be possible to create distribution for specialty brewers. Are there enough little guys to make the scale level practical? I would say yes."

Specialty brewers and specialty importers are certainly numerous, but some worry that chain retailers are now calling the tune. "There are now markets with huge chain presence, like Florida," Veltin's Joe Heller says. "In those markets, the on-premise business has to be big enough to support them, because they couldn't sell to Publix. Let's say a small distributor had six salesmen and three trucks, and had 100 Publix, it would be impossible for him to service those accounts."

Distribution analysts like Mark Rodman are also tangling with these thorny market access questions for smaller marketers. "With rare exceptions, small and micro producers can't meaningfully compete outside their local home markets unless they collaborate in pre- and post-sale transaction functions," Rodman says. "This means defying entrenched competitive wisdom and beginning to piggyback on each other's strengths and market penetration. For example, someone might start an in-depth study of what the European brewers consider normal when they explore geographic expansion, namely sharing brewing facilities, marketing administration, brand development and distribution collaborations, with or without an equity stake.... I've recommended cooperatives that would assemble now scattered small brands and styles as a solid organizing principle to allow small players to begin to match the supplier clout and selling power that comes with critical mass, tight distribution management and coordinated market investment."

Market access questions will only increase in importance, since the overall beer market is expected to grow over the next decade, even as the distribution conduit is narrowing.

There is now a large cohort of legal age consumers poised to enter the market. This has great implications for growth in the broader beer market, but how will it affect the high end? "People aged 21-27 who have the funds will pay more for specialty products," says Mike Johnson of Miller. "And at the other end, the group aged 45-54, the baby boomers, has more discretionary spending and more responsibilities. But both groups have shown willingness to pay more for beer."

Is there a ceiling? "Any ceiling is based on the price-value relationship with the product," says Johnson. "Part of it is drinkability. The micros were thinking big, but they didn't take drinking occasions into account. There are occasions for certain products, and if a product doesn't fit a certain occasion there are limits, but if the product fits, there is no limit. You have to ask, 'are the liquids right for a given occasion?'."

"The game has changed to an extent," Johnson says. "Micros and imports show that well-positioned brands with a compelling consumer proposition can succeed in today's environment. These are affordable luxuries, so any limit would be economic in nature. One always has to ask, 'are the brands well positioned in terms of the consumer?'."

Interestingly, in recent years there has been a certain blurring of the lines between some domestics and some imports. Imports originating in Canada are often priced at levels closer to domestics in the northern tier of the country. By the same token, many of the brands imported from Mexico are priced very competitively against mainstream domestic brands.

Corona seems to have benefited most from this blurring of the lines, as it has ascended to become the number ten brand in the U.S. "Corona is now a hybrid between an import and a mainstream domestic," one executive asserts.

Certainly as Corona becomes one of the top ten (or even among the top five in some outlets) it can no longer be segregated according to some arbitrary segmentation. "The sheer velocity and size of these brands requires that [retailers and wholesalers] devote more time to them," Ron Christesson, vice president of marketing for the Gambrinus Co. has said. "They can't ignore the package margins that these brands bring."

For other importers, however, retaining the "import" cachet is key to the positioning of their brands. "We don't see any blurring between domestics and imports," says Dan Tearno of Heineken. "With some of the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) imports, there may be some blurring based on price in key markets, but that is not the case with us. Regardless, the price difference between imports arid domestic premiums in a bar is not substantial in actual dollars, and paying that difference is not beyond the means of today's consumers. People are willing to trade up for more occasions."

Today's consumers are certainly trading up more often today (see R.S. Weinberg consumption frequency chart, page 8) Through 1998, flavor imports grew at a higher rate than domestic specialties (see R.S. Weinberg Charts, page 18), although micros enjoyed a good year in 1999. The third tier of the industry (including specialties and imports) has been growing at a faster rate than the general market, and projections indicate that the high-price malt beverage market could approach 50 million barrels by the year 2010.

Consumer demand for diverse higher-priced malt beverages, from importers and domestic sources alike, is growing. Given that growth, the beer industry will have to ensure that distribution constraints do not create a bottleneck between producers and consumers. But as Kevin Moodie of Scottish & Newcastle notes, "The wonderful thing about this business is that consumer demand will always win."
 Relative Consumption Frequency 1998
 Total Consumption Per One Unit of
 Specific Country Consumption
 Total Import Total Malt
 Consumption Beverage
 Base Consumption
1. Mexico 2.8 33.7
2. Netherlands 4.1 49.0
3. Canada 5.3 62.5
4. F.R. Germany 14.8 175.3
5. United Kingdom 18.2 216.5
6. Ireland 20.4 242.2
7. Japan 146.9 1745.4
8. Dominican Republic 163.2 1939.4
9. Jamaica 196.8 2339.2
10. Czech Republic 238.3 2832.4
Source: The Office of R.S. Weinber, St Louis, MO.
 Import Market Share
 Based on 1999 estimates
Gambrinus Importing Co 16.3%
Labatt's USA 11.6%
Molson Breweries USA 11.0%
All Others 10.1%
Guinness Import Co 7.6%
Beck's North America 4.4%
Heineken USA 21.7%
Barton Brands 17.3%
Includes companies import volume only.
 Top 10 Brand Share of Import
 Market '99
Corona 31.3%
Molson Ice 3.2%
Beck's 3.6
Labatt 5.2%
All Others 21.2%
Heineken 19.2%
Guinness Stout 3.6%
Foster's 3.7%
Tecate 3.8%
Amstel 2.5%
Bass Ale 2.7%
 Top 25 Imported Beer Brands
 (31 Gallon Barrels)
 1999 1999
 Market Market
 % Change Share Share
 Brand 1999 (98-99) Import U.S. Variance 1998
1. Corona 5,574,956 41.8% 31.3% 2.82% 1,643,236 3,931,020
2. Heineken 3,412,108 11.0% 19.2% 1.73% 338,137 3,073,971
3. Labatt 921,500 14.6% 5.2% 0.47% 117,100 804,400
4. Tecate 673,200 17.7% 3.8% 0.34% 101,200 572,000
5. Foster's 650,000 5.9% 3.7% 0.33% 36,400 613,600
6. Beck's 639,290 4.2% 3.6% 0.32% 25,839 613,451
7. Guinness Stout 634,000 0.0% 3.6% 0 32% 298 633,702
8. Molson Ice 574,000 -- 3.2% 0.29% -- --
9. Bass Ale 488,310 6.0% 2.7% 0.25% 27,640 460,670
10. Amstel 450,000 2.7% 2.5% 0.23% 11,848 438,152
11. Molson Golden 340,000 -- 1.9% 0.17% -- --
12. Modelo Especial 313,477 28.7% 1.8% 0.16% 69,987 243,490
13. Dos Equis 299,900 16.2% 1.7% 0.15% 41,900 258,000
14. Corona Light 271,592 27.5% 1.5% 0.14% 58,602 212,990
15. Newcastle Brown Ale 234,629 15.5% 1.3% 0.12% 31,480 203,149
16. Molson Canadian 225,000 -- 1.3% 0.11% -- --
17. Labatt Blue Light 170,135 41.1% 1.0% 0.09% 49,535 120,600
18. Harp Lager 160,132 3.0% 0.9% 0.08% 4,664 155,468
19. Pacifico 129,005 22.8% 0.7% 0.07% 23,939 105,066
20. St. Pauli Girl 127,209 10.5% 0.7% 0.06% 12,132 115,077
21. Sapporo 124,100 9.6% 0.7% 0.06% 10,875 113,225
22. Grolsch 119,612 3.0% 0.7% 0.06% 3,483 116,129
23. Moosehead 118,869 6.4% 0.7% 0.06% 7,186 111,683
24. Negra Modelo 98,750 19.4% 0.6% 0.05% 16,056 82,694
25. Warsteiner 92,395 14.5% 0.5% 0.05% 11,686 80,709
 % Change % Change % Change
Brand (97-98) 1997 (96-97) 1996 (95-96)
1. Corona 37.8% 2,852,000 27.8% 2,231,361 35.7%
2. Heineken 7.8% 2,851,550 7.0% 2,665,000 6.6%
3. Labatt 19.3% 674,500 -- -- --
4. Tecate 30.3% 439,000 23.0% 356,879 26.4%
5. Foster's 18.0% 520,000 19.4% 435,484 15.8%
6. Beck's 14.3% 536,734 -- -- --
7. Guinness Stout 24.3% 509,879 23.3% 413,637 21.0%
8. Molson Ice -- -- -- -- --
9. Bass Ale 10.8% 415,669 12.8% 368,347 16.9%
10. Amstel 10.0% 398,320 4.0% 383,000 0.0%
11. Molson Golden -- -- -- -- --
12. Modelo Especial 29.0% 188,709 18.2% 159,677 15.8%
13. Dos Equis 16.7% 221,000 25.6% 176,008 33.3%
14. Corona Light 39.7% 152,419 40.0% 108,870 --
15. Newcastle Brown Ale 25.0% 162,455 29.7% 125,245 42.9%
16. Molson Canadian -- -- -- -- --
17. Labatt Blue Light 46.0% 82,600 -- -- --
18. Harp Lager 37.1% 113,371 30.1% 87,169 24.5%
19. Pacifico 20.8% 87,000 16.1% 74,910 29.3%
20. St. Pauli Girl -16.6% 137,903 1.3% 136,088 0.8%
21. Sapporo 9.9% 103,064 2.2% 100,887 1.5%
22. Grolsch 33.3% 87,097 57.0% 55,481 -6.0%
23. Moosehead -3.8% 116,129 -41.9% 200,000 -8.0%
24. Negra Modelo 26.6% 65,322 19.7% 54,566 25.2%
25. Warsteiner 24.7% 64,717 38.2% 46,814 1.4%
Brand 1995
1. Corona 1,643,950
2. Heineken 2,499,941
3. Labatt --
4. Tecate 282,411
5. Foster's 376,000
6. Beck's --
7. Guinness Stout 341,855
8. Molson Ice --
9. Bass Ale 315,000
10. Amstel 382,882
11. Molson Golden --
12. Modelo Especial 137,903
13. Dos Equis 132,024
14. Corona Light 79,838
15. Newcastle Brown Ale 87,617
16. Molson Canadian --
17. Labatt Blue Light --
18. Harp Lager 70,000
19. Pacifico 57,927
20. St. Pauli Girl 135,000
21. Sapporo 99,435
22. Grolsch 59,023
23. Moosehead 217,417
24. Negra Modelo 43,599
25. Warsteiner 46,161
Note: This year we broke out individual brands from brand families.
Historical data for some of the brands was not available.

Beer from Abroad

Importers present new brands and packages as consumers clamor for imported beers.

Down Under Aussie Lager

Down Under Lager is imported from Australia by the Unified Beverage Group LLC of Orange Park, FL. The beer itself is made by the Down Under Brewing Co. of Leabrook, South Australia.

According to the importer, Down Under "is your traditional, front bar type of beer. Full and flavorful, it displays a generous head, fresh clean color and a dry palate a with slightly bitter aftertaste."

Down Under is packaged in the traditional Australian 375m1 (12.7-ounce) "stubble" bottle in six-packs.

Jever Pils

The Brauhaus Zu Jever is located in Germany's Freisland about 30 miles west of Hamburg. The beer that is made there, Jever Pils (pronounced "Yay-ver") is considered to be one of the finest examples of German pilsner. The celebrated beer writer Michael Jackson gives Jever Pilsener his four-star "world classic" rating and describes the beer as having "an emphatic hop aroma; a dry start; a firm, slightly yeasty palate and a long, bitter finish." According to importer Ed Raven of the Raven Import Co., Brooklyn, NY, "Jever's extremely dry and bitter finish will surprise even the most die-hard West Coast hop-head."

Distribution of the Jever brand will start with draught to help drive sampling on-premise, but the beer will also be available in 12-ounce bottles.

Schlosser Alt

The city of Dusseldorf is best-known for its signature "alt" or "old" beer. It is an ale style that dates back to the early 1800s, before bottom-fermenting lagers took the German (and world) beer markets by storm. Schlosser Alt is one of the signature examples of the style, made by the Schlosser Brauerei. According to importer Raven Brands of Brooklyn, NY, Schlosser Alt will be dispensed in bars and restaurants in the U.S. from barrels by gravity, with no carbon dioxide pressure.

Gambrinus beer from Pilsner Urquell USA

Gambrinus Dark Lager is a product produced by Plzenske Pivovary, brewery of Pilsner Urquell in Pilsen, the Czech Republic. The beer is imported into the United States by Pilsner Urquell USA of Englewood Cliffs, NJ. The beer is a draught-only product, sold in 13.2-gallon kegs, with alcohol content of 3.7% by weight. According to Plsner Urquell USA, Gambrinus "offers a beautiful fresh aroma, malty bittersweet taste, soft body and rich, dark color." The importer reports that the brand is 100% natural, made with roasted two-row barley malt, Saaz hops, water and yeast. No adjuncts or chemicals are used. According to the company, the brand is well-known in Europe for its "G" logo, with consumers often refening to the brand as "Vitamin G."

Herrnbrau Lemon Brew

The Geneva International Corporation of Wheeling, IL, has announced the introduction of Herrnbrau Herrn-Radler Lemon Brew. Brewed ia Ingolstadt, Germany by Burgerlisches Brauhaus Ingolstadt, Herrn-Radler is described as a "refreshing beer and lemonade mix suitable for every occasion." The beer is a blend of 50% Herrnbrau Tradition beer and 50% lemonade made from local spring water. The lemon-beer Radler is said to be a "popular Bavarian tradition." It will be sold in 12-ounce six-packs and 16.9-ounce bottles.

Beck's Light now nationwide

Beck's Light, first introduced in test markets in late 1999, has now gone nationwide. The brand is being sold off-premise in 6- and 12-packs of UV-protected clear glass bottles, and as a single bottle in on-premise accounts. The clear bottle used for the brand is said to be the first of its kind fielded by any brewer. It was developed at the Brauerei Beck glass factory, and will protect the beer against exposure to sunlight and indoor lighting. The company says that the new bottle provides the same level of protection afforded by a standard green bottle.

Beck's Light contains 103 calories in a 12ounce serving, and is made according to the German Reinheitsgebot, or purity law, using only malt, hops, yeast and water.

Veltins from Germany

Veltins Pils from Brauerei Veltins in Germany's Hochsauerland is now imported by Veltins U.S.A. in Atlanta, Georgia. Veltins will be sold on draught in 30and 50-liter kegs, in 12-ounce long-neck six-packs and in 12-packs of 12-ounce "Steinie" bottles. A five-liter mini-keg with a built-in tapping system has also reached the U.S. market.

"We are a player now," says Joe Heller. "We have a brewery that has the financial wherewithal to support this market, and I think that will help us build our network. Our objective is to get a glass of Veltins into the consumer's hand. Once that happens, we're confident that they will be back for more."

According to Heller, the Veltins brand is starting its push on-premise. "I believe in building a brand the old-fashioned way," he says, "with on-premise sampling leading to off-premise sales. It takes time, but it still works."

New packaging for Singha

Singha beer has launched new packaging and merchandising graphics. According to BevReps Enterprises, Ltd., the North American marketing representative for the brand, the new six-pack carriers have started to ship to distributors and the point-of-sale materials are beginning to be placed in That restauraunt accounts.

"The new graphics build on the heritage of the Singha brand and capitalize on the pleasurable experiences consumers have had with the brand in the many Thai restaurants all over the country," said BevReps president Mario Ylanan. He reported that a a basic selection of p.o.s. materials for on- and off-premise is available through the brand's importers.

Ylanan said that the new six-packs will allow the company to expand its distribution efforts off-premise. He said that 12-oz. Six-packs will be priced at a comparable level with other premium imports.

Two Bulls Lemon Lager

Two Bulls Lemon Lager is described as a "premium quality, hand crafted lager beer with a twist of Lemon flavor carefully integrated during the brewing process." It is marketed by the Unified Beverage Group of Orange Park, FL.

"This is not a belly wash lemonade mixed with beer," says company principal Butch Barnes. "This is a specialty brew designed to appeal to the regular beer drinker as a special treat or change of pace on a hot day or a mellow evening."

According to the company, the brand will soon be available in 12-oz. aluminum cans, opening up new venues for the product, including swimming pools and picnic coolers.

Heineken brings back limited supply "keg can"

Heineken has introduced 12-ounce keg-shaped beer cans in six-packs across the U.S. once again this summer. The cans were tested in limited quantities last year, and four times as many cans will be distributed this season (a total of two million 12-ounce cans). The keg cans will be sold through August 31st, or as long as supply lasts. According to v.p. communications Dan Teamo, the imported and specialty canned beer segment is greatly underdeveloped, representing less that 5% of import specialty sales, in a U.S. market where 65% of beer is sold in cans. The "keg cans" will be supported with print and television advertising, along with point-of-sale materials.

Pilsner Urquell in 12-packs

Pilsner Urquell USA, the new agents for the famed Pilsner Urquell brand, have announced their newly-independent importing operation. The Plzensky Prazdroj Brewery has terminated their business relationship with the Guinness Import Company, which had been imprting Pilsner Urquell beer to the U.S. over the past ten years. Pilsner Urquell opened its U.S. operation in 1995, and that entity will now expand to offer logistics, customer service, marketing and a dedicated sales force. One of the first new moves by the company has been the introduction of Pilsner Urquell in a 12-pack of 12-ounce bottles.

Pilsner Urquell recently merged with the Radegast Group, forming the 11th largest brewery in Europe, and holding 45% of the Czech beer market. The company has been acquired by South African Breweries, which is now the third-largest brewer worldwide. "Pilsner Urquell is now one of South African Breweries flagship brands," says Jiri Rais, president of Pilsner Urquell USA, "and SAB is putting focus on this unique brand."

In addition to the 12-pack, Pilsner Urquell is sold in 12-ounce six-packs, 22.3-ounce bottles, 16.9-ounce bottles and draught kegs. The brand is sold in all 50 states and is handled by 300 U.S. distributors.

St. Pauli execs toast success

St. Pauli executives recently toasted the success of the St. Pauli brand in 1999, with sales of over two million cases. U.S. marketing director Fred Graefenhain (at left) and product manager Tom Willett toast the 10% sales increases for the brand. "We're extremely pleased about St. Pauli Girl's strong growth and expect it to continue thanks to the consistent efforts of our wholesalers and retailers on behalf of the brand," Grafenhain said. "In response to the sales success, we have increased our advertising and promotional efforts to provide even more support for the brand throughout the year."

New One Liter Asahi Can

Asahi Beer USA, Inc. has announced that it has introduced a new 33.8-oz. Asahi Super Dry package. The new can will be available primarily at convenience stores in Califonia, New York, New Jersey, Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Georgia. According to the company, the new Super Dry one-liter can is designed to appeal to "heavy beer consumers" hence the 33.8-ounce single serving.

In addition to the one-liter can Asahi Super Dry is also sold in 12-ounce cans and bottles, and 16-ounce and 21.4-ounce bottles. "Please welcome our new one-liter can to our already existing line-up of Asahi beer products!" says Asahi Beer U.S.A. president Aso.

Asahi Super Dry is now the number one brand in Japan, and is said to be the number three brand in the world. Asahi Beer U.S.A. distributes Super Dry and Kuronama "Asahi Black."

A new stout

When first brewed in 1995, Black Biddy was the first new Irish stout to be brewed in 200 years. The brand is made at the Biddy Early Brewery, Ireland's first pub brewery, located in Inagh, in County Clare. The ingredients include roast barley, crystal malt, pale ale malt and British hops. Carrigeen moss, picked in a nearby bay, is used to fine the beer. Although Carrigeen moss was always the traditional Irish method for fining stout, Biddy Early is currently the only brewery using it. "Biddy Early" was the name of a legendary Irish witch, one who was said to only use her powers for good. The stout is imported by B. United International of Chappaqua, NY, in 50-liter kegs served under nitrogren.


The Unified Beverage Group LLC of Orange Park FL, will be importing Dos Toros from Mexico this year. The new brand (Dos Toros means "two bulls" in Spanish) is described as a "hand crafted, super premium beer using an original Mexican formula." The company's new brewery in Mexico will be fully operatioanl by the fourth quarter of 2000.

Dos Toros packaging is being revamped. New label graphics will enhance the hand blown antique glass bottles to "better convey the traditional hand crafted nature of the beer."

Iceberg beer from Canada

According to St. Killian's Importing Co. of Kingston, MA, Canada's "purest" beer is now available in the States. The beer is made from 100,000-year-old water from icebergs harvested in the North Atlantic. "St. Killian is pleased to introduce Boralis Iceberg Beer to the U.S.," said Hank Hague, president of the importing company." We plan to aggressively market this beer to U.S. distributors." Borealis is offered in a clear bottle with iceberg graphics, in a six-pack carton.

Hacker-Pschorr's new Weiss beers

Paulaner North America of Englewood, Colorado, has introduced Weisse Dark and Weisse Kristal, two new wheat beers from the Hacker-Pschorr's Munich brewery portfolio. The Weisse Kristal is described as "clear and bubbly...with a wheat malt taste," while the Weisse Dark is called slightly "fuller and richer." Both brands will be sold in 12-ounce six-packs and in 16-ounce bottles. "Weisse Kristal and Weisse Dark expand the spectrum of weisse beers from Hacker-Pschorr," says Jeffrey Coleman, president of Paulaner North America. "We're excited to offer so many choices to weisse drinkers." Coleamn notes that both new brands include a portrait of "Georg", the founder of the Hacker-Pschorr Brewery, on the label.

Schneider Weisen Edel-Weisse

A traditional Bavarian style wheat beer is now imported by B. United International of Chappaqua, NY. According to the importer, the new beer is true to the original weiss beer formulations of the early 20th century, when wheat beers were much hoppier. Geoge Schneider IV of the Privatbrauerei G. Schneider & Son has produced Weisen EdelWeisse to match the old wheat beers in flavor profile. Schnieder says that the old Bavairan wheat beers had a "hoppy bite" to them, which was balanced by wheat and barley malts that had a higher portion of unfermentable material. "These types of malts belong in the past," Schneider says," so my team decided to use besides the famous Hallertauer hops, the Washington-state grown Cascade hops, to replicate the aroma, flavor and taste profile of Georg Schneider I's original Edel Weisse."

New Importer Profiles

Jiri Rais is president of Pilsner Urquell U.S.A of Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. His company has now taken over the management of the Pilsner Urquell brand from the Guinness-Bass import Co. "It has been our policy to continue with the wholesalers that we inherited from Guinness," Jiri reports, "but we are putting our own sales force in place. We want to bring the brand to the next level, and we'll give our wholesalers the tools to do that, with P.O.S. and marketing programs. It is an extraordinary brand, and we are competitive price-wise, so if we can give it the right level of support that could make all the difference. We are up 20% through May and this is very positive. We are working to make sure that the beer in the trade is rotating and stays fresh."

Ed Ravn in the founder of newly-formed Raven Brands, Inc. of Brooklyn, N.Y. Ed, formerly of the Brooklyn Brewery, is now importing several German imports into the U.S. Jever Pils will be the Raven Brands flagship. It is a pale, hoppy brew that has received a four-star "world classic" rating from beer writer Michael Jackson. Ravn is promoting Jever in draught form to spur sampling.

"Bar managers are really impressed with Jever when they taste it," Ravn says. "We are almost sold out of our first container of kegs, and Jever is on tap in 30 accounts in NYC and Brooklyn. Jever was spotted on the TV food network with David Rosengarten and will be featured in one of his upcoming stories on beer." Ravn is also importing an alt and a Berliner Weisse.

Dominique Levesque is not a "new importer" but his company, Fischer Beverages, has a new charter to handle the specialty beer segment for Heineken in the United States. Levesque became president of Fischer Beverages in 1991, and retained that post when Heineken N.V. took over the Fischer Brewery in 1996. Brands produced by Heineken-owned breweries overseas are now being handled by Fischer Beverages in the U.S., including the Moretti and Affligem brands. "We will handle nothing but specialties," Levesque says. "We can provide the focus to handle specialty-type beers, but it is quite labor-intensive to handle niche brands, so we plan to hire another 10-15 regional people."
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Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 10, 2000
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