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Oktoberfest kicks off: How brewer Paulaner became one of the few beers served

Saturday marks the 188th Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, drawing people from all over the world. Paulaner USA CEO Steve Hauser joins Yahoo Finance’s Rachelle Akuffo to give us a taste of Oktoberfest. Palauner brewery and their sister brewery Hacker-Pschorr 's products will be served at the festival.

In terms of sales outside of Oktoberfest for the business, Hauser notes that the “beer market is a little bit soft”, but that hasn’t impacted their company as much because consumers are “reengaging with classic beers” without having to spend as much money as they would on other luxuries.

Video transcript

RACHELLE AKUFFO: This Saturday marks the 188th Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. Now, what started as a horse race and celebration of marriage between a Prince and his Princess is now an annual event, drawing more than 7 million attendees consuming nearly 2 million gallons of beer.

Here with me now is the US CEO of Germany's number one Oktoberfest beer, Steve Hauser of Paulaner. Welcome to the show. Looking at some of that--


STEVE HAUSER: Thanks for having me.

RACHELLE AKUFFO: --has me very thirsty. [LAUGHS]

RACHELLE AKUFFO: So looking forward to this Oktoberfest. How will this year be different? What is going to draw people in?

STEVE HAUSER: Well, I don't think there's anything special needed to draw people to the Oktoberfest, right? It gets about 7 million visitors a year, give or take, depending on the weather. But certainly, people are excited. I know people in this country are excited.

Everybody you talk to, it's on their bucket list. Rightfully so. And we think this year's going to-- this is the second year back from COVID. We think this year is going to be just as exciting, and looking forward to it.

RACHELLE AKUFFO: And, Steve, people might not know, but this is a very select group who is able to serve at Oktoberfest. Talk about how your company was able to get in that pole position, that number one spot here.

STEVE HAUSER: So we were present at the first Oktoberfest, the Paulaner Brewery and our sister brewery Hacker-Pschorr. And over the years, the number of tents that we've been able to serve at is only six brewers, and you see them there on the visual.

We have six tents within our two brand names, and we sell about 40% of all beer sold at the Oktoberfest each year. The tents are quite large, and it makes for quite a great time. The only beer that is sold, you see the golden lager there, the Oktoberfest beer, it is a seasonal brew. It is a classic lager, a little more robust, a little more-- with a little bit more impact of flavor, and a little bit higher in alcohol than is the normal lagers that US beer drinkers are used to.

RACHELLE AKUFFO: And, Steve, you all were kind enough to send me some here. So the one that you just saw on your screen there, the Paulaner Oktoberfest marzen here. So I have it here. I'm going to have a little taste here.

STEVE HAUSER: Now, so you're drinking the marzen, which was served at the original Oktoberfest in the 1970s.

RACHELLE AKUFFO: It's got some kick to it.

STEVE HAUSER: Yeah. Yeah. That's actually a terrific brew. In the 1970s, the brewers and the six brewers made a decision to serve a more golden-style lager. That's an amber lager. And the reason why it's an amber lager, because at the first Oktoberfest, you couldn't store beer because there was no refrigeration.

So the beer was brewed in March and lagered until the celebrations in September. But it was a more robust brew to be able to retain its flavor through the lagering process.

RACHELLE AKUFFO: And, Steve, I do have two others to pick from here, but I want to ask you the-- so we have the hacker, I'm sure the one that you mentioned there, as well as the Oktoberfest beer. So I have these two here, but I do want to ask you, in terms of how your company fares outside of Oktoberfest-- obviously, Oktoberfest is like-- that's the big selling point. That's the celebration that gets everyone together. But how does the rest of the business do outside of Oktoberfest?

STEVE HAUSER: So that's-- thank you for asking that. So the beer business, as you know, is always interesting, if you will. This year, the total beer market is a little bit soft for a lot of different reasons, but our business is performing quite well. We're up about 11% this year, and we believe it's, in part, due to-- consumers are re-engaging with classic brewers and classic beers.

So we sell a broad portfolio. We have a wheat beer. We have a lager. We have a pils. And they're all growing, and we believe it's because consumers-- beer is really an affordable luxury, if you will, and consumers, on the weekend, want to treat themselves a little bit. $1 or $2 more a six pack for a better quality beer is something that they're quite happy to invest in.

RACHELLE AKUFFO: I like that, an affordable luxury. But we wish you a wonderful Oktoberfest. Hoping it's successful for you. And a pleasure having you on the show. Yeah, that does have a kick to it. Steve Hauser, thank you so much for joining me on this. Yes.

STEVE HAUSER: Enjoy it tonight after you're done. It's the weekend, so have a beer.