Patience is a virtue. In this case, the virtue is the return of Kasteel to the United States of America. Our subsidiary Kasteel USA had a difficult start due to the corona pandemic. Now that all the pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place, the American Dream can start to become a reality.
The first containers filled with barrels and cans of Kasteelbier have arrived in America. ‘The first containers arrived in August and September: two in California and one in Pennsylvania,’ our Sales Manager Marc Schrauwen who supports Kasteel USA from our brewery starts off.
On American soil, we can count on the expertise of Bruce Wright. Having his own cider brand ‘Scrumpy Jack‘, Bruce has the right contacts to reintroduce Kasteel to America.
‘Although Kasteel has not featured on American shop shelves for years, there is a new group of young people who aren’t aware of the brand. So, we wanted to tell the story of the independent family brewery who are bringing affordable quality beers on the market. The fact they are Belgian beers is a side issue, because those are often too expensive for the average American. They are mostly bought for a special occasion. ‘So, we want to make Kasteel affordable for and accessible to everyone.’
Stepping away from a luxury product
Bruce explains how in the past you could have easily paid the price of a bottle of champagne for a bottle of Kasteel Cuvée. ‘It was Michael Jackson – not the singer but the world’s most famous beer writer – who put Belgian beers on a pedestal. The price of Belgian beers increased exponentially making them prohibitively expensive. Meanwhile, microbreweries arrived on the scene with affordable Belgian-style craft beers and the expensive Belgian beers slowly faded into the background.’
It was due to the importers and distributors that Kasteel was eventually nowhere to be found in the States. ‘An intermediary used to import our beers, who then chose a distributor per State. Our beers often ended up with distributors who handled many other Belgian beer brands as well. So, it wasn’t the ideal situation,” Marc explains.
By taking the task of importer and representative upon us, we have succeeded in bringing Kasteel to the American market at an affordable price.
With Kasteel USA, we take on the role of importer and choose the distributor ourselves. ‘We take great care with that, after all there can only be one distributor working for you in each state or region. And if you don’t get along? The distributor can withhold your beers from the market,’ Marc states. ‘We therefore look for distributors who really want to be part of our family brewery. ABCD is a great example. They are our new distributor in California, and they visited the Bierkasteel in early September. That team is highly motivated to distribute Kasteel and will do all they can to make Kasteel a big name in California,’ Bruce explains.
And that takes place in close collaboration with the Kasteel USA team. Bruce continues, ‘We support the people working at the distributors, but also go out on the road ourselves. We go to food and beverage venues and visit retailers to promote our Kasteel beers, so they place orders with our distributor.’
Marc concludes,’By taking on the tasks of importer and representative, we have succeeded in bringing Kasteel to the American market at an affordable price. You will still pay slightly more for a Kasteel Rouge than for an American craft beer, but the difference won’t be as much as it used to be.’