Paulaner USA, the American imprint of a centuries-old German brewing brand synonymous with Oktoberfest celebrations, has moved its headquarters from Colorado to Harrison. It’s a move that Paulaner USA President and CEO Stephen T. Hauser said allows the company better access to industry talent and also to import-loving East Coast beer drinkers.
Paulaner USA celebrated its move to 2 Westchester Park Drive in Harrison on Sept. 12 with a party that featured its specialty beers on draft and German food to munch on. The company is currently working out of temporary space in the five-story office building, which is run by Heritage Realty Services.
The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Paulaner, which has been brewing beer for more that 400 years, specializing in German styles such as Hefeweizen and Oktoberfest Marzen.
Paulaner USA imports beer from six breweries in Europe. The main brands are Paulaner and fellow German beer Hacker-Pschorr, but brands also include England’s Fuller’s Ales, Ireland’s O’Hara’s Irish Craft Beers, the Belgian Früli Strawberry Beer and another German beer called Fürstenberg. Paulaner USA sells its beer to distributors in all 50 states.
Later this month, 14 Paulaner USA employees will move into a 4,000-square-foot space in the 2 Westchester Park Drive building. The future space is being retrofitted now to feature a large display case for Paulaner products, a large Paulaner logo in its lobby and, of course, a bar to sample its products.
“What good beer company doesn’t have a bar?” Hauser said.
The company was previously based in Littleton, Colorado, a suburb of Denver. Hauser, who has been in his role with the company for three years, said Paulaner USA moved east for a number of reasons.
On the practical side, a location near New York City and its three major airports means easier travel for Paulaner executives in Munich. Until recently, Denver had no direct flights from the German city. Flying into and out of New York shaves about four hours off the travel time.
“We also believe that being here gives us access to better talent,” Hauser said. The company can draw on the experience in the area created by the presence of other beer importing companies such as Heineken USA. Beck’s Brewery, Labatt Brewing Company and Guinness all have had an importing presence in the region as well.
“Because of their presence, not only are there marketing and sales people from those organizations in this area, there are agency support groups that have a lot of imported beer experience,” Hauser said.
But most of all, Hauser said the White Plains location gives the company a chance to grow its reach in the largest European beer import market in the country. Paulaner does some of its best sales in Colorado, which Hauser credited to the company’s presence there.
But the East Coast is actually a better market for European imports than the more craft beer-focused west, Hauser said. He said New York is the top European import beer market in the country.
“If we could incubate New York the way the corporate office was able to incubate Colorado through the years,” Hauser said, “we would have a substantially larger piece of business.”
While the company moved to the temporary space in Harrison just three months ago, its efforts are already paying dividends in the immediate area. Mamaroneck Avenue restaurants in White Plains, including Lilly’s, Hudson Grille, Ron Blacks Beer Hall and the Brazen Fox have all started carrying Paulaner, according to Hauser.
Still, Paulaner USA’s imports will no doubt face some competition at the consumer level. Craft beer in the state continues to grow at a rapid pace. The number of craft breweries in New York grew from 95 in 2012 to 320 in 2016, according to the New York State Brewers Association.
Hauser said that imported beers actually owe domestic craft brewers a debt of gratitude. The new generation of craft brewers had the marketing skill to interest consumers in new styles of craft beers, which Hauser said were often drawn from international brewing traditions.
“They got more American beer drinkers to try more unique and different products than we would have ever been able to do as an importing industry in 10, 20, 30 years.”
But now with the American interest in beer at an all-time high, Hauser said that imported brands such as Paulaner can draw upon a long brewing history to entice customers.
“These are our products, we’ve been brewing them this way for 400, 500, 600 years,” Hauser said, describing his pitch. “Hacker-Pschorr is 600 years old, Paulaner is 400 years old. We’ve been brewing it this way, people seem to like them. They’ve embraced them for all of these centuries. We’d like you to try it.”