Beer it up! Karan Jain, CEO, BrewDog India avers: “BrewDog is an iconic powerhouse and a multinational brewery and pub chain that has had a brilliant trajectory all across the world.”

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TheGlitz caught up with Karan Jain, CEO, BrewDog India to find out why BrewDog is steadily becoming the buzzword for many craft beer drinkers in Mumbai. And we learned that BrewDog is not only one of the most iconic International Scottish craft beer brewery and pub chains, it is also the pioneer in leading the craft beer revolution globally. BrewDog India has two existing outlets in Mumbai and one in Gurgaon and now have expanded to two new outlets in Amritsar and Chandigarh. Read on as Karan Jain gives you an insight into the craft beer revolution started by the iconic BrewDog…

Karan Jain and his merry band of BrewDog India staffers

BrewDog seems to be very popular these days, could you tell us about the journey in making it a brand?

BrewDog is an iconic powerhouse and a multinational brewery and pub chain that has had a brilliant trajectory all across the world. BrewDog was founded in Fraserburgh (Scotland) by two young entrepreneurs: Martin Dickie and James Watt in the year 2007. Their first beer was Punk IPA, which kick-started the company’s meteoric success. Across the world, BrewDog has a cult following and some of the IPA’s are very well-known and followed – Punk IPA, Elvis Juice, Hazy Jane etc.

As part of its global expansion trajectory, BrewDog launched in India with its first outlet in Kamala Mills, Midtown, Mumbai in 2021, under Aloha International Brewpub and soon expanded to four outlets in the country with the fifth on its way. Every BrewDog bar offers a distinctive vibe inimical to the brand. It is not just a microbrewery but a destination experience. In India, the brand is very distinctive in its offerings and USP. The most exciting one is that it is a pet-friendly space. BrewDog India also offers a localized menu adding eternal favorites, regional specialities as well as many of its International signatures. In terms of popularizing it with Indian consumers, there is a lot of variety in terms of entertainment as well. The International appeal of the brand, relaxed vibe, great experiences and food and beverage mix have all contributed to making it a very popular brand.

BrewDog is pet-friendly

What are the business strategies undertaken by the brand to counter the popularity of international brands?

BrewDog is a globally loved craft beer powerhouse and is iconic across communities. It currently has a global presence in over 30 countries and 110 locations. With its India debut in 2021, the first two years were a learning curve for the brand, where time was spent to understand the audience for the brand and their preferences. This has been followed by a strategic expansion curve across high urban density markets which have evolved consumers. Thus the brand expanded to Delhi-NCR, Amritsar and now Chandigarh. The brand has identified the best locations for expansion and followed that as a strategic road map, choosing vibrant markets and hubs across these locations. BrewDog is a market disruptor with a diverse and varied craft beer portfolio, offering twenty-four beers on tap. It’s a great space for all beer lovers to learn more about their favorite brew and experience more variety.

The brand has been consistent in its offering while working with local tie-ups and collaborations. People come for the beer, enjoy the food, and also come back for experiences and entertainment.

How is craft beer different from regular beer?

Craft beer, by the very virtue of its name, is beer that is brewed in smaller batches, with all manners of flavors, strengths and colors, from a diverse collection of ingredients. BrewDog beer is a craft beer as it meets all the criteria. It is adventurous, with a traditional heart, brewed by artisans and made to satisfy the tastes of people who appreciate good beer.

India is a nascent beer market by virtue of the fact that craft beer has been around for only 12-13 years. Today there are around 400 or so craft breweries in India, but nearly 50 percent of the offering is wheat beer. The remaining players are making only 4-5 different varieties of beer, so this is a market that still needs to grow and evolve in India. Yet, there is more consumer evolution with the proliferation of more microbreweries in the market, popularizing the category. There is also a predilection in the customer where they are willing to spend extra for a better product. The guests want to have a great experience and are willing to experiment. Innovation and superior quality is the target one has to bear in mind to be successful in this era.

What are the trends and challenges craft beer faces?

BrewDog is an international brand, and the only player currently in the Indian Market which serves such a large portfolio of beers on tap. Something the customers have not yet experienced so far with local brands. In India, the few craft breweries which have come up are still only offering 6-8 beers at most. BrewDog with its twenty-four taps in every location and a huge portfolio of different beers to choose from expects to see great success. The main challenge is licensing, when it comes to opening a taproom. Each state in India has different rules and regulations, which one has to navigate. Thus taking alcohol from one state to another can literally be fraught with multiple rules. The permits change across states, and in some states, one might need almost 15 permits to operate a microbrewery. This can be a daunting task for most players as it requires intricate and in-depth knowledge of all state policies and rules and regulations. That said, the Indian consumer is very welcoming to new changes and keen to try out new brands as well.

What are your plans for 2023?

2023 is going to be a very busy year for the brand with multiple outlet launches and expansion. BrewDog started the year with a very interesting brand collaboration with Paul and Mike Chocolates, wherein the two brands, together developed “Your Place or Mine”, a chocolate bar inspired by one of its iconic IPA’s; containing 64% dark chocolate with the Mango IPA by the same name. BrewDog is keen to offer more varieties of craft beer to consumers as the current craft beer segment has been dominated by wheat beer. The brand hopes to change that and get more consumers to try our IPA – which also happens to be one of BrewDog’s best offerings!

Since we are proud Mumbaikars, we have to ask, what makes the Mumbai outlet stand out?

As a brand, BrewDog adapts and assimilates across the different spaces it goes to. One of the very few pet-friendly taprooms, and that makes us very popular with diners as they get to enjoy the space with their pets. We also offer multiple fun events tailor-made to appeal to the vibe and energy of each city, from relaxed Sunday brunches in Mumbai, outing days for pets, curated flea markets and trivia nights. It’s a distinct universe for the brand, which our consumers love as much as they love the beers.

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