Beer no longer a favourite?

With single-spirit bars coming up in Bengaluru, industry insiders say lager is facing new challenges, and facing them well
Last Updated 30 January 2020, 03:31 IST

Last year, many single-spirit bars sprang up in the city. Suddenly, there were whiskey lounges, gin bars and rum taverns across Bengaluru.

For Gin Sling 2020, held in Bengaluru on January 18 and 19, gin lovers gathered on a rooftop to celebrate the concoction.

So does the growth of single-spirit bars show a decline in the popularity of beer? Is Bengaluru losing its beer capital status?

Metrolife spoke to industry insiders to understand the latest trends.

Single spirits up beer demand

Manish MK, brewer at Windmills Craftworks, says the craft beer business in India is still nascent. “Since we see beer being used for cocktails and with other single spirits, the need for beer has only increased,” he says.

While Windmills Craftwork hasn’t experimented with beer cocktails yet, the brewer believes fruit-infused beer is catching on in a big way in the city.

“Bengaluru customers are averse to bitter beer. They like something that’s on the sweeter side — fruit-based, especially with seasonal fruits,” he says.

“There’s a lot of demand for mango beer in summer. Though we have tried to make it available throughout the year using mango puree, it hasn’t been successful. They want fresh mango,” explains Manish.

Perhaps it’s the mixed culture of in the city that still makes beer a popular drink. Customers are open to trying out new things but they also have classic preferences.

Customers know what they want

Narayan Manepally, CEO of Geist Beer, says people are always curious to try out new things. “So naturally, when some new place opens up, they want to know what they are missing out on. Having said that, young people care about what alcohol they are drinking. They want to know where the produce is coming from,” he says.

Narayan says the organic movement is encouraging the trend.

Party-goers want variety

While customers are open to trying out new things, they also know what wouldn’t work.

Sakshi Sagaraju, founder of Bangalore Brew Works, says, “The only variety that didn’t work was the apple cider beer, as the flavour is dependent on the apple juice that comes from Himachal Pradesh. If you try it off season, it has a bit of tartiness.”

Her team is working on jaggery and coconut-infused beer which they hope will work. There’s also a demand for draught beer as it is fresh.

Younger customers prefer beer

Rekhansh Karamchandani, owner of XOOX Brewmill, says the beer community is made up mostly of youngsters.

“We haven’t seen a decrease in demand for beer at all. We have a mixed crowd at XOOX but we’ve realised it’s mostly youngsters fresh out of college. They are usually beer drinkers; not too many indulge in hard spirits,” he adds.

Explosion of breweries

Every month, we hear there’s a new brewery in town. Some don’t survive, but their mere presence is helping well-made beers develop a market, say trade insiders.

Since acquiring a brewing licence is not easy, brands like Geist help microbreweries flourish by supplying them with fresh beer.

“These days, customers aren’t too fond of visiting a brewery that has barrels in the background if they know it can’t produce good stuff. They don’t care much for the machinery. In that case, as a business owner, you are paying rent for a space that isn’t needed. It’s better to think your brewing process through and give the customers a better product,” explains Narayan.

Water aspect

“We are trying to minimise the water wastage when making beer but there isn’t much of an alternative. If we want the quality to be consistent and please customers, we cannot be stingy about water,” says Manish M K, brewer at Windmills Craftworks.

(Published 29 January 2020, 14:30 IST)

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