Picture this… Buzzing club, people queuing up, huge steel casks, busy team members, pulsating music, animated conversations and the desire to quench that thirst…what are the options? Plenty is the answer, while H2O still remains the most popular thirst quencher. While an array of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic is available, beer continues to be the favorite among many.
There’s been a huge drift in how the good old bottles have transformed it from bottles to breweries and even microbreweries today. While there’s a wide variety of beer, it’s also found that if consumed in moderation, it has certain health benefits. After tea, beer is the second most popular beverage in the world. In a beer enthusiast’s expression it is also referred to as Adam’s new ale. Beer can be one of the most intricate and diverse drinks with a wide variety of flavors; it can taste like lemon or smoke, coffee or coconuts, banana or chilies. It can be earthy or acidic or it can be bitter or aromatic.
India’s association with beer goes back to the Vedas, which has a mention a drink similar to beer called as Sura, it also has a mention in Ramayana. Megasthenes, a Greek explorer has recorded usage of rice beer from his visit to India during the Maurya’s empire. Traditionally beer in India was prepared from rice or millet. India was introduced to European beer in the 18th Century. The first brewery in India was set up in Kasauli in 1830 by Edward Dyer; they produced beer by the brand ‘Lion’, which is still available. The brewery was bought over by H.G. Meakin and in 1967 was renamed as Mohan Meakin Breweries.
It has expanded momentum during the last decade in India. It’s a lifestyle choice, which was considered frolicsome couple of years back. According to a report by NIIR project Consultancy Services titled India Beer Market – Industry Size, Share Trends, Analysis and Forecasts till 2017, suggest that though the IMFL dominates the alcohol industry, beer has been able to make its mark and its presence. A consumer nowadays looks at alternative from whisky and beer perfectly fit the bill. India is a huge market for beer and that explains the breweries springing up all over the country.
The Indian consumers today do not mind spending extra bucks for a good ambience and great beer, just as they would do for a cup of coffee. There are close to 300 establishments that sell imported beer and currently stand at 3-4 lakhs cases annually and are growing at 40 – 50% every year. In the last 18 months India has seen entry of around 35 brands. Half of the Indian beer market is controlled by UB group, SABMiller, which markets Fosters owns another 30%.
Keep watching this space for more, as I discuss more insights and upcoming trends from the brewery industry.
-Ms. Bindu Menon, Sr. Faculty, INLEAD