The US beer distribution joint venture between Grupo Modelo and Constellation Brands is to include the St. Pauli Girl and Tsingtao beer brands in its portfolio.

Crown Imports, which begins operations today (2 January), will represent the imported beers of the St. Pauli Brauerei in Bremen, Germany and from Chinese brewer Tsingtao.

"St. Pauli Girl and Tsingtao have been valued and strong performers in our portfolio for many years," said Bill Hackett, the president of Constellation's Barton Beers arm, who will become president of Crown Imports. "I am especially pleased to announce that both brands will be represented in the US market by the new joint venture and will help make our portfolio one of the strongest in the business.

"We are excited to continue to work with these outstanding brewers and greatly appreciate these valuable long-term partnerships."

In July last year, Modelo and Constellation unveiled the joint venture, which will import and distribute Modelo's portfolio, including the Corona beer brand, across the US.

The move saw Modelo part ways with the Gambrinus Co., who had distributed its brands in the eastern part of the US. Constellation was already the distributor for Modelo in the western areas of the country prior to the formation of Crown Imports.

Modelo is half-owned by US-based brewing giant Anheuser-Busch.