The new CEO of Paulaner HP USA has claimed that fruit beers are losing their stigma among “traditional” male consumers in the country's on-trade.

Stephen Hauser, who replaced Jeff Coleman at the beer importer earlier this year, told just drinks today that products such as the company's Früli brand have been benefiting from the new trend. The strawberry Belgium beer is “making noise” across the country, he added, with growth coming in some unlikely locations. 

“Some of our most popular states are in the mid-west of the US, which is traditional lager beer country,” Hauser said. “You'd be surprised how many men - and men you wouldn't expect - we've observed drinking this product.”

Asked if the stigma over fruit beers has lessened among mainstream consumers, Hauser agreed, saying that a growing cocktail culture in the US has helped pave the way for sweeter beers. Spirit mixes such as Anheuser-Busch InBev's Lime-a-Rita and its extensions have also “helped elevate the awareness” of the fruit beer category, he added.

Meanwhile, the CEO confirmed to just-drinks he took over from Jeff Coleman in mid-May. Hauser, who was a marketing executive with Heineken USA for 14 years, said he plans to increase distribution of the importer's brands by working more closely with distributors.

“We will be focussing on the day-to-day of the beer business but doing it better and a little bit sharper,” he said.

The company handles a range of imported beers, including Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr, Fuller’s and O’Hara’s, and also markets New Orleans brand Dixie.

Hauser said all imported beers in the US owe “the craft brewers in this country a debt of gratitude”.

“They opened up the eyes of a lot of consumers to different styles of beer - that's what the imports have been trying to do for years and the crafts just exploded that whole notion,” he said.