Tapping into the craft strong beer segment hasn’t been the easiest journey. But for beer enthusiast Abhinav Jindal, it’s always been about taking on challenges and delivering quality products.
Homegrown brands continue to produce quality products and put India on the map, arguably spearheaded by the craft beer industry.
When the first wave of craft beer began nearly a decade ago with the onset of brewpubs and microbreweries, it was met with equal parts skepticism and intrigue. As it stands today, there are several new brands launching every day, some on larger scales from commercial breweries, proving that craft beer is here to stay. It isn’t about consistency as much as it is about quality and flavour.
Just when you thought things were heading towards a lull with the same old wit and IPA offerings – in comes BeeYoung. The brainchild of Abhinav Jindal, CEO and Founder of Kimaya Himalayan Beverages, BeeYoung offers India its first craft strong beer. The flavours start with a crisp attack of the perfect malty taste, followed by ripe fruitiness on the midpalate.
Of its origins in 2019, Abhinav says, “Being a beer enthusiast, I love to try newer variants and styles of beer prevalent in various parts of the world. Being associated with the Alco-Bev industry for over a decade now I’ve closely observed the beer landscape and consumption pattern in India. While observing the market we analyzed the gap in the beer industry, there were not many players manufacturing quality products, especially in the strong beer segment, something that would appeal to all sorts of customers cutting across preferences.”
Thus came a unique product that was both crafted and artisanal. However, it wasn’t the smoothest sailing, as is the case with most such stories. Abhinav recalls how in the early days, people asked him to consider the IMFL space instead, owing to the strong beer segment being acquired by two giants of the industry.
But he was far from deterred, choosing to focus on further research and creating talking points around BeeYoung itself. It was about promoting craft strong beer as a culture rather than just alcohol, each sip refreshing the consumer as much as exposing them to newer worlds. The brand welcomes beer connoisseurs and experimentalists alike, just promising a consistent, strong taste.
Things might’ve gone more smoothly had the pandemic not gotten in the way of things, but BeeYoung kept their heads up and focused.
“Soon after the launch, we were expecting our first summer sale month and were excited considering the kind of response we got in the initial few months. It was a time of distress, and despite uncertainties and a long halt on expansion plans, Kimaya, with a consistent mindful approach, and the right allocation of resources moved further with proactive analysis of the market response. It helped the company take controlled and effective measures to reach the projected sales number and develop a robust strategy to further expand in bigger markets,” he adds.
It helped that the restrictions on liquor shops were lifted early, so the stocks started moving and they were able to save products in the manufacturing process.
The country’s first craft strong beer USP aside, BeeYoung also comes with the promise of quality ingredients. With an ABV of 7.2%, the ingredients used in the making of BeeYoung are handpicked by their brewer. The brand uses Two Row Argentinean barley lending perfect maltiness, namely the Columbus & Styrian Golding Hop imparting flavours and aroma. Coupled with 100% sortex rice, yeast & pure spring water from Bhakra Dam, it makes for an absolute smooth texture.
There’s transparency in the ingredients used as well, and the ability to trace the raw materials back to their very source. A combination of quality ingredients used from their provenance and Himalayan sourced water with stringent quality by the head brewer ensure the highest quality end product, each time.
Another distinguishing factor for this craft beer brand is its keenness to educate audiences on the right packaging size and conditions. While most brands cater to the audiences’ preferred 330 ml and 650 ml sizes for profitability, they disagree.
Abhinav says, “500 ml is the perfect size for beer consumption. Beer is enjoyed the most at chilled temperature, [which it loses] halfway through in a 650 ml. With bottled beers, there is less chance of oxidisation whereas a can is coated and it prevents the liquid to interact with aluminium. However, the chances of beers getting oxidised are higher in cans vs bottles. You can relatively see the liquid in the glass bottle irrespective of the glass colour – amber, green or clear. In taste, bottles tend to hold much better carbonation than cans. In India, people prefer bottled beer, especially for the same reason.”
Given BeeYoung’s crisp and smooth palate cleansing sips, Abhinav recommends pairing it with classics like pizzas, burgers, and of course, the iconic biryani-beer match. That aside, spicy Mexican food also complements it extremely well. You don’t have to tell the Indian audience that twice.
At the heart of the brand, what kept them going has always been the immense love and support received from patrons. With some stellar marketing strategies in place, they’ve managed to remain relevant regardless of the lockdown. Even with revenge tourism and dining in full swing, however, how optimistic is he about the future?
Very, it would seem, as he says, “The beer industry, especially the craft beer industry is growing at a rate of 3.5% (CAGR Compound Annual Growth). We are seeing a growth trajectory for beer businesses. With other industries affecting the beer sales such as travel and hospitality opening up, people wanting to explore and try new styles and variants, people venturing out to party in clubs and get-togethers, post work hours catchups over beers, all these have gained momentum boosting the sales.”
With the promise of experimenting with different ingredients and flavours to create the best new variants looming, it’s looking like a promising start for the craft strong beer. So here’s to cracking a craft strong one with the boys!