These new beers are making their India entry this season
Summer is slowly fading away, but the sales of super premium and craft beers continue to sizzle. And now the FIFA World Cup football in Russia, as many football fans head out to the pubs every evening to watch matches, is adding some more fizz to the market. For young millennials, especially in Indian metros, it’s also time to seek out new craft and super-premium beers. According to a report by Euromonitor International last year, there is likely to be a further rise of craft beers in India this year. The report says that “the huge success of B9 Beverages’ Bira 91 is expected to further encourage many global players to introduce their own craft beers. Additionally, with this category being largely underdeveloped, many new players are also expected to emerge.”
Likewise, a recent report by BMI Research of Business Monitor International, too, sees a strong growth for the beer market in India in 2018 “on the back of changing cultural attitudes and a young, increasingly affluent population, demand for premium and craft beers is rapidly emerging.”
With growth in demand from Indian beer connoisseurs, who don’t mind paying a premium, it’s no surprise that importers and local brewers have launched over 20 new and fresh flavours this summer, including niche craft beers produced in small breweries. “There are over 17 new beers hitting Delhi and Maharashtra shelves this summer and we are excited with all brands that enter our shores and become part of the ever expanding menu. Australia has a diversified craft beer culture, and we are delighted to see some for the first time from there,” says Rahul Singh, founder and CEO, The Beer Café, a chain of pubs. Some of the other summer beers that have hit Indian shores for the first time in the summer of 2018 that Singh recommends are the Belgian style wheat ale Blue Moon; Erdinger Sommerweisse which has summer in its name and is brewed in accordance with Bavarian purity law and Hite extra cold beer from South Korea, which is an ice point beer and perfect for India’s scorching summer months.
Singh finds young Indian millennials in the metro cities mirroring global trends , and trading up toward premium and craft beer offerings from around the world. And they’re willing to pay anything between Rs 250 and Rs 600 a pint. “Craft beers are made in a traditional, non-mechanized brewery and sometimes contain local flavours and ingredients that are different from the standard formulation. While many International beer brands have made their mark, the craft beer market offers an opportunity to Indian consumers to enjoy more flavours. The year on year growth of craft beer, as opposed to standardized brands is 13% rise in volume and a 16% increase in retail value,” Singh said.
And it’s not only imported beers, one of India’s biggest beer makers United Breweries too is betting big on an uptick in the demand for super premium and craft beers in India. “The growth is in high double digits. We have launched Kingfisher Storm last year, Amstel Strong this year, and will launch our craft beer by the end of the year,” says Samar Singh Sheikhawat, chief marketing officer, UB. Amstel, from the stable of the company’s Dutch parent Heineken NV, was launched recently in Karnataka and Puducherry. Sheikhawat finds the super-premium beer segment charged up by high growth, proliferation of brands, increased availability and physical distribution, and a lot of marketing action and consumer conversations.
Bira 91 is a brand that is eyeing a growth in super premium and craft beers in India. “These segments will grow at much faster pace than the industry owing to urbanisation and beer becoming more of a lifestyle beverage. Consumers will demand better tasting, more flavourful products and brands they can connect with. The market has been underserved for long and will explode as more choices open up to consumers,” says Sandeep Singh, director, marketing and alternate channels – Bira 91. Bira 91 IPA, priced at Rs 140 for 330 ML in Delhi, too is a new launch this summer. Simba Wit, a crisp and light-bodied craft beer brewed in small batches in Goa and priced at Rs 110 a pint too, was recently launched in Delhi and is set to be enter Mumbai markets soon.
ABInBev, which has one of the largest super premium beer portfolio globally, too, has launched Beck’s Ice, a pale German lager, in some markets in India recently. ‘We are witnessing a demand for super premium beers across urban centres in the country. These are the consumers with high disposable incomes, frequent travelers and millennials who are exposed to different beer styles,” Ben Verhaert, president, India, AB InBev, told ET Magazine.
Ishan Grover, a Delhi based master brewer has decided to go fruity this summer, having launched his first ever mango ale. “This is our first among the fruit beer series that we are planning to launch in various breweries across India. The beer is made with special Alphonso mangoes directly sourced from Maharashtra. Mango juice is extracted by cold press and 150 kg mangoes is infused. The beer has no artificial essence or flavouring agents, The malt and hops balances the sweetness of the mango and in summers this is the best way to beat the heat,” he explains. He has also introduced a pomegranate ale in Tama Brewery and Kitchen in Delhi.
Bengaluru-based beer sommelier John J Eapen too finds summer a good time to experiment with fruity beer flavours – especially mangoes. “Most brewpubs around the country are experimenting with some sort of mango craft beer be it a mango wheat, mango ale, mango lager or even a mango saison (farmhouse ale) or a mango cider.” He has teamed up with a top brewer in Bengaluru Umang Nair to do a series of collaboration beers this year. “The series is called the Two Hatted Series and our first release, The Easy Pale Ale was done in March and received very well. We will be brewing a second batch of this simple single hop pale ale that isn’t overly bitter but focuses on the balance between the sweetness of the malt and the bitterness/flavor/aroma of the Cascade hops used,” Eapen says. He finds that as more Indian consumers travel abroad, they are beginning to try out new styles.
Wine and spirits consultant Karina Aggarwal feels that conversations around craft and quality beer are helping educate Indian consumers. “International travel and the access to evolved food & beverage shows through television and the internet has impacted the beverage industry across the board and craft beer in particular,” she reckons.
Dhruv Goyle, owner of Cafe Tesu, a new restaurant in Delhi is upbeat about homegrown breweries such as Bira, White Rhino & Simba. “Customers definitely are trying out super premium and craft beers and we serve a variety of beers. We find customers experimenting with new beers and pairing them with food.”
Amit Agarwal, director of Hema Connoisseur Collections, the importer of Erdinger Sommerweisse, and Paderborner pilsner from Germany and Chimay Triple from Belgium this summer, finds Indian consumers experimenting with Indian and imported beers and willing to spend more. “A big reason for this is foreign travel and the vast number of brands now readily available through retail shops and restaurants.”
Mayank Chaudhary, MD, Dark Horse Beverages, an alcobeverages importer, has lived in Germany for many years and is a fan of the beer culture there. The 5.0 Original, a mid-range beer brewed according to German purity laws and available in four variants, was his choice for the Indian markets this summer.
“One of the most popular beer brands in Germany, 5.0 Original is gradually reaching consumers worldwide. We think it will appeal to the consumers in India.” Indian consumers are now keen to try different styles of beers and the stories behind German and other craft beersare attracting them. “There is a different taste, and a story behind all these beers and that is really catching the eye of the Indian consumer,” says Anuj Bakshi, MD of Northern Spirits, a company positioned towards importing premium and luxury beers. He plans to import the entire range of Coopers and RedDot Weizen from Australia over the next few months. So forget the scorching heat and monsoon woes – it’s time to say cheers to fresh brews and watch out for the goals being scored.
The new beers this season
A Belgian-style wheat ale brewed by MillerCoors under the name the Blue Moon Brewing Co. It was launched in 1995, and was originally brewed in Golden, Colorado.
Imported by Molson Coors
Thirsty Simona Hefeweizen
Brewed and bottled in Bosnia & Herzegovina by new age company Thirsty Beers, Thirsty Simona is a traditional German Hefeweizen, which is a favourite summer beer.
Rs 200/330 ML
Imported by Bliquid
Erdinger Sommerweisse, a hoppy wheat beer from Bavaria, Germany
Rs 200/330 ML
Paderborner, a Pilsner from Germany
Rs 200/500 ML
All imported by Connoisseur Alcobev
Carib is a lager style beer from a brewery in Trinidad and Tobago
Rs 110/330 ML
Imported by Allied Spirits
Hite is a South Korean beer, produced just above freezing point to create unmatched freshness
Rs 220/330 ML
Imported by Inovative Activation
RedDot Weizen, brewed by the RedDot Brewhouse in Singapore, it’s a German style Hefeweizen
Rs 260/330 ML
Coopers Brewery Original Pale Ale: All malt brew from Coopers Brewery, a family owned establishment in Regency Park, Adelaide, Australia
Rs 260/375 ML
Coopers Brewery Premium Lager, a lager with a good balance of malt and hop
Rs 260/355 ML
Imported by Northern Spirits
Eichbaum Hefe Weizen Dunkel a Dunkelweizen beer by Privatbrauerei Eichbaum, a brewery in Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Rs 230/500 ML
Imported by: Honeyembest Impex
Weidmann Pilsner is a fun German wheat beer brewed in a village in Germany
Rs 190/330 ML
Imported by: Highland Liquors