Many decades ago when Albert Cramer took the reins for Warsteiner he had two goals in mind. The first was to become the first German beer to be sold throughout the country of Germany. A nationwide distribution for any German beer was unheard of at that time, and Albert did soon accomplish that goal which made Warsteiner the largest selling beer in Germany for many years.
Albert’s second goal was to become a global brand. Part of his strategy was to not only open the U.S. market by starting an importing company, but he also wanted to build three breweries: two in Africa and one in Argentina.
By the early 2000s, however, Warsteiner had lost its dominance in Germany and was struggling worldwide. Albert possessed an unusual insight into the future in the industry. He had worked to created alcoholic flavored drinks made of orange, red, and colas flavors. These products were low ABV but never took off in the U.S. Albert also created a light beer on the tails of Heineken Light. The Warsteiner light came in a clear bottle with a decent ABV, but as with the flavors, that beer did not sell well.
The Warsteiner agency in Vancouver, Canada, however, was a successful importer. The head of the agency had seen the great success of Corona but, he had no product to compete with Corona. In addition to brewing Warsteiner, the plant in Argentina also brewed Patagonia, a beer named after the mountain regions of the country.
Since Patagonia was bottled in a clear bottle, the agency in Canada decided to import Patagonia with the intent that it would compete with Corona. The first container of Patagonia sent to Canada did very well and sold out quickly. It looked as though Warsteiner might have a winner. With the second container, however, there was a QA issue with the bottle caps. Somehow the bottle caps on the second container rusted causing an off-putting taste. The beer was quickly returned to the agency and replaced with a new container; however, the bottle caps had again rusted thereby ending any chance Patagonia had of being a viable product. In the U.S. we were watching Patagonia sales closely. The intent was to bring the beer to the U.S. market had the brand been a success, however, given the poor quality of the crowns, the attempt was thwarted.
In the summer of 2008, Albert with failing health and serious management issues in Africa and Argentina sold all the breweries. He sold the Argentina brewery in 2010 to SAB Miller who in turn sold out to ABI. The Patagonia brand remains with ABI.
On a recent trip to Florida, we learned that ABI will soon be importing Patagonia into that state. The bottle and label have changed, as have the caps! The quality from ABI will be excellent as will the packaging and, of course, the necessary support will be made available. More importantly, however, the brand will have the support of the AB distributor network.
Once again, along with national wide distribution, global expansion, alcoholic flavors, and Patagonia, Albert Cramer was decades ahead of the industry.
Whatever happened to…Patagonia.