TCB Beverages, one of the largest brewing groups in Germany is entering the US market with its own production. In a first step, the brewing group will open a craft brewery in Charlotte, North Carolina with a capacity of 5,000 barrels (5.870 hl) of beer per year in mid-October. The company has bought a half-acre site for USD 3.1 million last month and wants to start construction next month.
The Embassy at Gilde Brewery will not only feature an “authentic German style brewery” but also a taproom with seating for up to 350 people inside the bierhaus and outside in the biergarten. Six types of beer – Pilsener, Kellerbier, Urbock, Red Rooster, Lemon Radler and Pale Wheat – will be brewed on site according to the German Purity Law. American craft beer styles are also planned at a later stage. German brewmaster Willi Wallstab will relocate from Germany this summer to monitor commissioning and production of the new brewery.
“As the original craft beer innovators, we will immerse guests in centuries of German brewing heritage combined with the creativity of the American beer movement,” Karsten Uhlmann, one of the two managing directors at TCB Beverages told The Charlotte Observer. “It will be a true German brew and food experience,” Uhlmann’s colleague Mike Gaertner added, referring to the authentic German cuisine, like schnitzel, bratwurst and spaetzli that will be served in the restaurant, supervised by Michelin star Chef Stefan Hermann.
The beer will be brewed and sold under the Gilde brand name. Gilde Brauerei was established in 1546 Hannover, Germany and has a long and eventful history. From 2003 until 2015 it was part of Interbrew which became later AB InBev before the brewery was sold on January 1, 2016 to TCB.
The brewery in Hannover is one of four breweries of TCB in Germany and France and has a capacity of 1.5 million hl. Only about one tenth is sold under the Gilde brand name with the remainder being sold mainly as private label to retail chains like Aldi, Lidl, Edeka, Mercadona and Norma.
If TCB is successful in Charlotte, the next steps will be to open similar craft breweries in other cities in the Southeast and to build an industrial site of about 100,000 square feet (9300 square meters) that will produce about 500,000 barrels of beer per year (about 600,000 hl a year). “This would supply the American market,” Gaertner said. TCB is already in negotiations with large US retailers like Walmart and Publix.
The idea of the new brewery became already public in June 2019 but was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. (inside.beer, 26.6.2019)
Despite thorough planning the start in Charlotte will not be easy for the German newcomer, as the US market is already saturated with craft breweries and the concept of brewing German style beers is not new to Charlotte.
Less than a mile from the location of TCB’s new brewery is Olde Mecklenburg Brewery (OMB) which was the first brewery to open in the Charlotte in March 2009. Founder John Marrino has invested more than USD 20 million into OMB and its facilities to deliver a traditional German beer-hall feel with its biergarten and brauhaus. In 2018, he produced about 21,000 barrels (25,000 hl).
And Marrino has big plans for expansion. Three years ago, he has bought a piece of land in Cornelius, about 20 miles north of Charlotte where he partnered with a real estate management company to build a mixed-use community consisting of a second brewery and taphouse surrounded by 50 townhouses and nearly 400 apartments as rental properties. Marrino is hoping to open the new brewery late 2022, early 2023.