This time, German beer is coming directly to the U.S. beer market, rather than the other way around. According to an exclusive today in Charlotte, NC’s The News & Observer, German brewery Gilde, based in Hannover, Germany, is planning a massive U.S. production facility in the city, which would have up to a 500,000 barrel capacity. That would apparently be almost 25 times the production ceiling of Charlotte’s biggest current brewery, the similarly German-themed Olde Mecklenburg.
Gilde is one of Germany’s oldest breweries, in operation since the 16th century, but it still doesn’t seem to be particularly well known throughout the country. Despite reportedly having a massive, 850,000 barrel brewery in Hannover, the beer somehow still doesn’t make it that far from its home city, indicating that the city must drink one hell of a lot of Gilde. Primary exports appear to be light lager styles, pilsners and additional styles such as hefeweizen. The official Gilde website highlights a few more, such as a bottled radler, a grapefruit beer, a helles and several pilsner substyles.
The brewery planned to eventually open in Charlotte would be truly huge—100,000 square feet in size, according to the News & Observer. However, before the company gets to work on that giant facility, they plan to open a smaller microbrewery called “the Embassy” in the area, priming the local market with a venue that will only brew a few thousands barrels per year in small batches. At the same time, Gilde will begin importing its German products via Charleston, with production on the huge flagship brewery intended to begin “two to three years down the line.” You’ll have to forgive us if that falls into the “we’ll believe it when we see it” territory for us, at the moment.
Still, it’s fascinating to see a German brewer of traditional lager styles eyeing the U.S. market as a good fit for a large expansion. In recent years, this is a story that has largely been reversed, with U.S. breweries exporting their beer to Germany, or brewers such as Stone launching costly (and ultimately unsuccessful) brewing ventures in the country. Could Gilde have picked up on the rising tide of lager enthusiasm among craft beer fans?
If Gilde manages to get in operation, and begins producing authentic German lager at competitive prices for the U.S. market, who knows what could happen? We’ll be excited to taste them, whenever they finally arrive.