Young, millennials and crafty – Meet India’s New Beer Barons and the Kings of Good Times – The Founders of Bira91, Simba and White Rhino.
Beer understands emotions and so does its makers. For a long time, Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher rode the chariot of glory being India’s choicest brew. But now, India is witnessing a brewing revolution of sorts. New names have taken over the mantle of making party animals feel good. These are India’s new liquor Barons and here’s their story.
Bira91, Simba and White Rhino – India’s New Kings of Good Times.
Ankur Jain – BIRA91
Bira91 is a rage among today’s millennials. Founded by Ankur Jain, BIRA91 derives its name from a Punjabi word ‘Bira’, that literally means ‘elder brother’. Bira also connotes ‘the brave one’ in Bengali.
The number 91 that follows is India’s country code signifying the brand’s roots. Then there’s a mascot which is a hilarious monkey that itself is quickly becoming an icon.
After completing his studies, Jain settled in the US, running an established healthcare revenue management business that he co-founded. But when the time was beer o’clock by his watch, he sold the company, got good returns and came back to India with the dreams of crafting an Indian beer on Indian soil. Hence, Bira91 came into the picture. Today, it’s one of the finest tasting rice beers.
Headquartered in New Delhi, BIRA91 or B9 has nine offices including one based in New York. BIRA91 is backed by Sequoia Capital, the Midas of the VC world. Jain’s venture has crafted a loyal fan base in no time. Today, Bira91’s revenue stands at a whopping INR 165 Crores. Unsurprisingly, this is 5 times what it made in 2017. That’s one huge monkey leap for beer baron Ankur Jain’s vision.
Prabhtej Singh Bhatia – SIMBA
Prabhtej Bhatia is probably the youngest craft master or beer baron to make this list. The owner and CEO of SIMBA Beer, Bhatia is only 27 and has already generated a revenue of INR 125 crores in the fiscal year 2018-19.
Prabhtej was born to a family in the liquor business since 1948. With the motive of making Simba a drink for the millennials, Bhatia launched Simba strong in the market in 2016 and started producing revenue from the same year. Undoubtedly, Bhatia is one of India’s new kings of good times.
Simba is available in Goa, Bengaluru, Assam, Kolkata, Chhattisgarh and Delhi, and now Bhatia plans to conquer the North Eastern liquor market by launching the product in Arunachal Pradesh.
Simba is derived from Disney’s famous Lion King Simba. The mascot is a depiction of an animated lion sporting a cool jacket. Taking a jibe at its direct rival Bira91, Bhatia once said it he takes pride to share that Simba does not “monkey around while doing business.”
Ishaan Puri – WHITE RHINO
It all boils down to the fact that White Rhino’s founder Ishaan Puri’s well-earning job at asset management firm BlackRock Inc. was hit hard during the 2008 recession. Puri knew he needed a long-term plan. So in 2010, he returned to India with the dream of setting up a craft brewery business.
Puri did a six-month diploma in the art of brewing at Brewlab in the UK and then went on to set up a brewery in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. Consequently, Puri launched White Rhino in 2016, as India’s pioneer home-brewed craft beer.
He started with select restaurants and wine shops in Gurgaon, but when the beer became an instant hit, Puri began a much-needed expansion. However, unlike Ankur Jain’s Bira91, Puri went on a calm and collected approach to expansion. He ensured that each market he entered ran smoothly without a demand-supply gap.
The average sales of White Rhino have topped over half a million liters a year with two variants — a Belgian-style wheat beer and a Munich-style lager.
The great thing about White Rhino’s success is that Puri did not spend on marketing and promotions and almost all the growth has come from word-of-mouth appreciation by a growing customer base of White Rhino loyalists. Puri is taking the slow and steady approach to making White Rhino a national beer brand and Ishaan Puri one of India’s new Kings of Good Times
Craft Beer Era in India
Indeed, with these flag-bearer beer barons, the craft beer culture is quickly developing in India. The industry is on a growth rate of roughly 20% YoY, as per the All India Brewing Association.
Currently, India has over 80 microbreweries. A decade ago, there were only 2 in 2008. Furthermore, the overall beer market in India is growing exponentially. It grew by 96% between 2010 and 2015.