With a catchy and irreverent slogan – "Um tesão de cerveja" – "A hard-on of a beer" – and a catchy and irreverent taste, Devassa, which means libertine woman in Portuguese, in a short few years, has won a lot of converts in Brazil and Europe.
Now the artisanal beer created in Rio de Janeiro is coming to the United States.
Devassa was created in 2002 by three bar owners in Rio and was initially sold in only two bars, one in the Leblon neighborhood and the other one in Barra da Tijuca. Cello Macedo, Marcelo do Rio and Joca Muller would soon find out that what started as a kind of a joke made business sense.
In 2004, with a little less than half a million dollars, they opened a beer factory in the Santo Cristo neighborhood and started producing 30,000 liters of Devassa a month. Soon they were making three kinds of Devassas: blonde (Pilsen), red-haired (Pale Ale) and brunette (Dark Lager).
Devassa has become the fastest growing beer in Rio de Janeiro. The company has retained McCann Erickson, one of the top ad agencies in the world, to develop and coordinate the overall advertising and point of sale material for their brand in the US.
"This brand has all the features to really explode in the US. Devassa has already caught on in the UK and Europe because the package is great, the marketing support is superb and the taste is out of this world," states Ted O'Connor, president of Aladdin, the company that will distribute the beer in America.
O'Connor goes onto say, "We strongly believe Devassa has the ability to be one of the next great imports in the US."
South American Beers seem to be hot right now. SABMiller, for example, acquired Aguila, Cristal and Cusquena through a recent US$ 9 billion purchase of Colombian-based Bavaria, one of the largest brewers in South America. And Inbev is currently spending US$ 1.1 million in advertising in Florida alone for Brahma another Brazilian import, according to the Sun Sentinel.
Devassa is growing rapidly due to the popularity of the brand in the domestic Brazilian market. In just three years Devassa has gone from selling 6,000 liters per month to 90,000 liters per month.
"The move to export to the US was a very easy decision for us because of the great success we have enjoyed here in Brazil; however we needed a US importer who had the same vision and drive as we do at Devassa Brewery. We were happy to sign an exclusive contract with Aladdin because it was the right fit," states Caio Sabino Scarpelli, Devassa Brewery Export Division Manager.
Scarpelli goes on to say, "We strongly believe we will be able to experience the same success in the US market as we are in the Brazilian market."
According to the Brazilian embassy in Washington, DC, there are approximately 600,000 Brazilians in the US, but other estimates put the population at 1 million, 1.5 million or even 2 million Brazilians (half of them illegal).
Most reside in New York/New Jersey, Massachusetts and Florida. Also take into account that Latin Beer brands in the US have intense followings among the population the brand comes from.