Against the Grain Makes its Own Path in European Distribution

Breweries used two methods mainly when it came to bringing American craft beer overseas  they shipped it over from home or else, like Stone and Brooklyn, they opened up shop and started producing their beers there for distribution.

Jerry Gnagy from Against the Grain in Louisville is trying a new path. Partnering with German brewery Vormann Braueri, Against the Grain is producing new beers just for the European market, specifically twists on two of its American brands: A Beer Pale Ale and Pile of Face IPA.

“I got some advice from some of my importers in Europe that they were afraid of people comparing beers produced in Germany to those produced in the U.S.,” explained Gnagy, who is the Brewmaster and a managing member of Against the Grain. “I hope to get around that problem by making a whole separate brand (AtG Europe) that doesn’t pretend to be a clone of something we have in the states but beers that are inspired by our hoppy US beers that can have variations between them.

“So that’s why A Beer equals Plus One — with still same concept but twisted slightly and Pile of Face equals Neoanderthal — still with skulls and stuff.”

Located in Hagen, Germany, Vormann Braueri will send out the Euro labeled beers to multiple countries, many were Against the Grain’s other beers are already exported.

“I’ve learned that the European consumer has become more educated and savvy about hoppy beers styles, what they should taste like and what is and isn’t fresh,” Gnagy said. “With better European brewers making good pale ales and IPAs now we have to compete with a fresher product at a better price, which is why we did AtG Europe.

Gnagy admitted this is a different kind of venture and the advice that he has gotten is different from what some other large US producers did and have struggled with.

“With AtG Europe we didn’t make a clone beer of something we do in the US, but we tailor the recipe and materials to the brewery and area of production, in this case Germany,” he explained. “And more importantly it is a completely different label and format so that there is no comparisons between a pale ale produced here or in Germany.”

So AtG Europe will be about brewing hop-forward beers closer to the consumer to make them fresher and cheaper, both which are good things, Gnagy pointed out

“The two brands we are starting out with … rely on hop character and freshness, also oddly enough both have large charges of German hops in them  with Mandrina Bavaria, Herkules and Hallertau Blanc, so there is a tie to Germany there as well.”

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