Brews & Spirits

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From strong, to craft, to draught

From strong, to craft, to draught

Founded in 2018 by ‘beerpreneur’ Rohan Khare, Bad Monkey strong beer (8% ABV) has recorded Rs 130-crore turnover in just 2 years. The founder of Delhi-based Sinq Beverages is passionate about beverages, going so far as to pursue a course at the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) right after completing his graduation.

Founded in 2018 by ‘beerpreneur’ Rohan Khare, Bad Monkey strong beer (8% ABV) has recorded Rs 130-crore turnover in just 2 years. The founder of Delhi-based Sinq Beverages is passionate about beverages, going so far as to pursue a course at the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) right after completing his graduation.

The beer is brewed in batches in Punjab; but the malted barley comes from Europe, the hops come from North America, and water comes from the Himalayas. Brews&Spirits caught up with him recently.

 

Do you think that the words ‘strong’ and ‘craft’ are terms that cannot be used together for beer? Can taste and flavour co-exist with high ABV?

No and Yes! ‘Strong’ and ‘craft’ can exist together in one bottle or glass. Around the world we can find some such great expressions; be it from a micro-brewery or a taproom. Some variants of craft beers are brewed even stronger than our commercial mass-market beers.

It depends on the materials used and process followed. Some micro-breweries have tried their hands with it, getting selected feedback. The future is full of potential; but first of all the industry and authorities need to come up with a definition for ‘craft’. That will make all the stakeholders more aware in the process and ultimately benefit the consumers.

 

Given the dominance of strong beer in the Indian market are there opportunities for craft strong beers?

Craft as a segment has a lot of potential and with increasing awareness and purchasing power of the consumer, we will see the demand rise, as well as for a true strong craft beer. Presently, we feel there are certain issues which hamper the growth of craft beer in our country that need to be resolved.

Number one is the ‘craft’ definition itself, and the industry/consumer awareness of the same. Another major roadblock is the current excise policies (duties and structures) which discourage small-batch, innovative niche products and brands to expand to reach the ultimate consumer.

Breweries and brands who claim to be one, need to make sure they do justice to the word ‘craft’, and not just use it for the sake of marketing.

 

Do you have any plans of expanding into the draught beer segment?

We have plans to go draught sometime late this year, although this pandemic pushed the plans back. We remain on our track for our consumers looking for a crispier version of Bad Monkey. It’s a tough one, given on-trade suffering right now. But, given a better environment, we are confident craft beer will boom again.

 

Given the situation on account of the pandemic, what plans do you have for increasing your share of at-home consumption?

India is a different market compared to the developed world. More than 70% of sales still come from off-trade retail here. Even with the lifting of restrictions, off-trade beer sales were down by 35%, amid fears of catching cold or Covid-19 infection from consumption of a chilled beer.

All the stakeholders have come in support of each other, with efforts from state excise departments, brands and channel partners already driving the industry out of the slowdown. States such as Maharashtra and Karnataka allowed micro-breweries to sell beer in growlers for home consumption.

Uttar Pradesh has lowered excise duties on beer and licence fees of bars. On the other hand West Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh have allowed home delivery.

 

What has accounted for Bad Monkey being able to capture the imagination of the consumer in such a short time?

From the feedback and feel we got, it’s the consistent quality and packaging that has won over consumers and enabled them to connect with Bad Monkey well, the beer for all times. Bad Monkey targets the youthful, high-spirited individuals looking to enjoy a strong one, with or without anyone, at any-time, any-day.

 

Any plans for export?

We have got a good response from consumers and channel partners in Australia, a market we started exporting to in 2019. Discussions with potential channel partners are on for African and South-east Asian markets.

The year 2020 did pose some challenges, but we are back on track for the next financial year, and soon we will be on our way to reaching more global consumers.

 

What about launching different styles of beer? Would you continue to use the Bad Monkey brand?

With consumers connecting well with Bad Monkey, we are clear in our thoughts of launching some variants next year and expanding the Bad Monkey name.

We have a couple of expressions under development and some exciting innovation coming late next year, which would improve our direct interaction with consumers. We are also looking to expand geographically in the next couple of years to the southern markets, such as Telangana and Karnataka.