Tag Archives: beer

ASCI bans surrogate advertising in IPL

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) banned surrogate advertising of liquor during India’s showstopper event – Indian Premier League 2021 which however, got truncated, due to some players and franchise staff testing positive. Talks are on to hold the unfinished spectacle in the United Arab Emirates, like it did in 2020 without crowd attendance, to be viewed on a broadcast platform.

It was during 2020 IPL that surrogate advertising was active on television and digital medium, particularly OTT (over the top), the latter in the absence of clear guidelines. “The IPL broadcaster for TV has confirmed to the ASCI that all advertisements are checked for CBFC clearance so that they are not in violation of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 (CTNR). Keeping that in mind, the ASCI processed complaints on advertisements appearing in OTT, digital and print media,” ASCI said. The association suo motu took up 14 complaints and some of the advertisers withdrew the ads.

Brand extensions have some leeway

The CTNR rules prohibited the direct or indirect advertising of cigarettes, tobacco products, wine, alcohol, liquor or other intoxicants in 2009. The Information & Broadcasting Ministry, however, allowed advertisements of products even if they shared a brand name with a liquor or tobacco product so long as it wasn’t a manifestation of the prohibited product. Advertisement of brand extensions of liquor and tobacco products is permitted under CTNR, provided the product sold under the brand extension does not make direct or indirect references to the prohibited product, it is distributed in reasonable quantity and is available in a substantial number of outlets, and the proposed expenditure on the advertisement of the brand extension product is not disproportionate to the actual sales turnover of that product.

ASCI guidelines for brand extensions

The Advertising Standards Council has ‘Guidelines for qualification of brand extension product or service’ wherein for an advertisement to qualify as a genuine brand extension advertisement (by implication, not surrogate), the in-store availability of the product sold must be at least 10% of the leading brand in the product category or sales turnover of the product must exceed `5 crores annually or `1 crore in the state where the product is distributed.

Age-old question, whether to allow liquor advertising or not?

However, the question that keeps raking up is an age-old issue – whether to allow liquor advertising / surrogate advertising or not? And the topic is universal leading to unending debates. Across continents, there are countries where liquor advertising is allowed and then there are as many countries that have banned / restricted advertising of alcoholic beverages. In the United States, spirits advertising has self-regulatory bodies that create standards for the ethical advertising of alcohol. In the UK, advertising for alcoholic drinks follows a code enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority, while the packaging and branding of the products is subject to self-regulation. In Thailand, alcohol advertisements are allowed but with a warning message. In South Korea, public advertising is allowed only after 10 p.m. In the Philippines, alcohol advertising comes with a disclaimer ‘Drink Responsibly’. In India, liquor advertising was banned after the Ministry of Health found that cigarettes and liquor had adverse effects on a person’s health. However, advertisements for liquor brand extensions can run on television only if they have a certificate from the Central Board of Film Certification. That led to the companies (manufacturers and also advertising agencies) becoming innovative with ‘surrogate advertising’ wherein unrelated products with the same brand name is manufactured / advertised and sold, only to ensure that the liquor brand name stays right on top of consumers’ minds. Unrelated products include mineral water, music CDs, soda, sports accessories and anything that can be advertised.

Active on digital media

The question here is when liquor companies are active on social media which is a major influencer, an indisputable force and not to mention its enormous reach, the whole idea of banning on OTT and television smacks of hypocrisy. It is indeed paradoxical that excise which is one of the top revenue earners for most states, going up to 15 % of the overall revenues, is not allowed to be promoted. There is a school of thought that believes if a product is allowed to be manufactured and sold, it should be allowed to be advertised, but that is over simplification as it will certainly be like opening up the Pandora’s Box.Gokul Krishnamoorthy who worked with an agency that handled United Breweries in an opinionated article in the Financial Express says “While ASCI banning surrogate ads by liquor brands during the curtailed IPL 2021 was a welcome move, it prompted a question in many minds. What explains the existence of a team called ‘Royal Challengers Bangalore’? One can’t help but remember that the current captain of the team Virat Kohli is idolised by a young boy in a health beverage commercial, among many others. Royal Challenge is a brand of whisky owned by United Spirits, which also owns the Royal Challengers Bangalore cricket team. If scale of presence, volume of advertising, market share and the likes are the key metrics by which one decides whether or not an alcohol brand can advertise its extension, then Royal Challengers Bangalore has no problem at all.” He goes on to add “The only seeming solution then, albeit rather simplistic and overarching, is that if a brand is present in a category where promotion is banned, it should not be allowed to promote itself in any context. It should be denied the right to promotion, whether for its shared corporate brand, for its extension, for its event, for its cricket team or whatever else.” Since such conundrums exist, there are those who feel that we need to shed this hypocrisy and accept that people do drink and reaching them is a legitimate part of a company’s business plans. The companies should be allowed to promote safe, moderate and responsible drinking. In states where there is prohibition this issue does not crop up at all. With digital media coming into play, some players have been advertising brand extensions as the CTNR does not apply to advertisements over the internet. This is changing as we have seen the government bringing social media under control. The digital medium is pretty nascent and governments are grappling with policies to rein in the medium. Indian liquor companies have been using social media to promote their brands. The UB Group recently tied up with a digital content company which produced a web series titled ‘Pitchers’, a five-part series on four friends trying to launch a start-up. With over 10 million viewers, the show got a rating of 9.7 out of 10 on internet movie database website, making the new concept of advertising, going beyond surrogate advertising. As rules become stricter, liquor brands will look at different channels – events, experiential, branded content and in-film, like ‘Pitchers’. As manufacturers need to advertise, one way or the other as to get their products sold, they have been innovative in how to get the message across.

Opportunities for beer in 2021 & beyond

Beer suffered quite heavily during 2020, primarily due to its reliance on the on-premise. Beer markets in Italy, the UK and Colombia were amongst those particularly hard hit due to lockdown restrictions. Traditional inbound tourism hubs continue to hurt. Some brewers also faced legislative issues, notably full bans on the sale of alcohol in South Africa and India, and a ban on domestic brewing in Mexico. Changes in consumer purchasing behaviour in the off-premise, such as a tendency to purchase multi-packs and less time spent browsing, meant some players had to adapt to new packaging offerings and/or new distribution channels as well. Overall, the industry will likely see an approximate 9% decline in beer consumption across 19 key markets (2019 to 2020). Amidst the challenges, however, there are bright spots:

Market recovery

IWSR research shows that some beer markets will emerge from 2020 relatively unscathed: beer proved remarkably resilient in Japan, for example, especially in the face of a strongly-advancing ready-to-drink (RTD) category. Although beer in China will see an approximately 7% loss in volume in 2020, the decline is not as bad as many feared it could be, primarily as restrictions had largely been lifted by the key summer months. Looking forward, developing markets will continue to provide growth opportunities for brewers. Even before Covid-19, many developed beer markets had stagnated in recent years. Key players have invested heavily in increasing their brewing capability and distribution networks across developing markets. Africa has been a particular focal point for investment, with new breweries opened in countries including Mozambique, Kenya and Ethiopia. In Asia, Heineken and Carlsberg have been very active in Vietnam and Cambodia. In 2019, Heineken enjoyed success with the launch of Heineken Silver in Vietnam, while Carlsberg’s relaunch of Huda was also well received. Of the leading markets, IWSR projects these two countries to be in the top ten growth markets between 2019 and 2024. The potential for beer growth in India is strong as well. AB InBev, for example, began brewing Budweiser in the market back in 2010. In January 2021, Kirin Holdings announced an investment of $30 million in New Delhi-based B9 Beverages, the maker of the Indian craft beer Bira. IWSR anticipates beer consumption in India to return to pre-Covid-19 levels by the end of 2023, continuing on its growth path from there.

Expanding beyond beer

As consumers moved to the at-home occasion, the trend for convenience has helped to shape purchasing behaviours. In markets such as the US, the ready-to-drink (RTD) category, which includes hard seltzers, has been taking share from beer. RTDs provide a growing opportunity for brewers to diversify their product portfolios. Indeed, Heineken entered the hard seltzer category in September 2020, with the launch of Pure Piraña in Mexico and New Zealand. In the US, Heineken partnered with AriZona to launch the AriZona SunRise Hard Seltzer in October 2020. AB InBev states that Bud Light Seltzer is their leading innovation in the US market, with over 75% of volume being incremental to their portfolio. In fact, 2021 was the first year in which a hard seltzer commercial (Bud Light Seltzer) aired during the Super Bowl. Malt-based RTDs are currently dominant in the US owing to their taxation base, and brewers there are in prime position to take advantage. Elsewhere, the alcohol base of choice varies by country, driven by consumer preference and local alcohol tax structures.

Changes in purchasing behaviour propel e-commerce

As with the wider beverage alcohol industry, Covid-19 has propelled the value of the alcohol e-commerce channel. Heineken, for example, reported that Beerwulf, its direct-to-consumer platform in Europe, nearly doubled its revenues in 2020, while in the UK, its revenues tripled. Online sales of its home-draught systems grew as well. Beer has traditionally under-traded online, primarily due to the channel offering lower margins. However, this will change as consumers continue to buy more groceries online and beer is included in the weekly shop. This is especially true in the US, where IWSR expects sales of online beer to grow rapidly as supermarket chains increasingly invest in the channel. Online beer sales hold the greatest market share in countries including Japan, the UK and the US. From a lower base, online beer sales will also grow rapidly over the next five years in markets such as Israel and Nigeria.

The entrepreneurial spirit of small-batch players

Craft breweries, which tend to be more dependent on the on-premise, have propelled interest in the global beer category and revitalised its fortunes in many markets. IWSR believes that the entrepreneurial spirit of the sector will mean that craft brewery regeneration will be quick. In the US, for example, IWSR has seen the pandemic lead to a “buy local” approach amongst some consumers, which will benefit small-batch players.

Innovation in the no/low space reignites the category

No- and low-alcohol beer is a bright spot for the category, as moderation and wellness trends continue to resonate with consumers. IWSR data shows that, to date, most volume has come from no-alcohol rather than low-alcohol beer across 10 key markets. Broadly, low-alcohol beer is giving way to no-alcohol offerings particularly in markets such as Australia, France and the UK. Spain, for example, is seeing a shift from low- to no-alcohol beers, as consumers seek healthier choices and view the newer 0.0% brands as more modern. In South Africa, investment from Heineken and the emergence of a craft segment has helped to generate interest in the no-alcohol category. While no-alcohol beer has existed for decades, in markets like the US, no-alcohol beer has premiumised through the release of no-alcohol versions of non-lager styles, long the domain of no-alcohol beer. More recent no-alcohol styles, such as IPAs, stouts or porters, are starting to make a real impression, driven particularly by new challenger brands, many of which are not linked to traditional brewing. The recent no-alcohol extension of Guinness – despite some teething issues – will help to underline that no-alcohol beers are no longer the sole domain of lagers. While several key beer players continue to steer the no/low beer category, the market is fragmented with a number of smaller brands vying to establish themselves as market leaders in this space. The segment is likely to become even more of a focus for smaller craft producers who are able to bring a diverse range of products to the market in future.

Women in the Dry State of Gujarat are Jumping on the Alcohol Consumption Bandwagon!

Earlier, we reported that binge drinking among women has been increasing steadily over the past few years. Thirteen percent of adult women have reported binge drinking four times a month on an average while consuming five drinks per binge. A 2019 survey conducted by TU Dresden in Germany found that Assam led alcohol consumption among women in India. However, the North-eastern state is not the only Indian state where alcohol consumption has increased drastically. Gujarat, the Dry State, is climbing up the charts steadily too.

According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) released recently for the year 2019-20, it was discovered that the number of women consuming alcohol in the Dry State has doubled in the last four years. The survey studied a total of 33,343 women and 5,351 men from Gujarat. 200 women (0.6 percent) and 310 (5.8 percent) reported that they consumed liquor. 

Previously, in the NFHS-4 Survey (2015-16), the sample under study in the state included 22,932 women and 5,574 men amongst whom 618 men (11.1 percent) claimed they drank liquor while only 68 women (0.3 percent) claimed the same.

A comparison between both the surveys shows that while the number of women consuming alcohol in Gujarat has doubled, the number of men doing the same has nearly halved.

Gaurang Jani, a sociologist, said “The middle class and upper middle class have embraced the party culture in recent times. As a result, women in families have also started consuming liquor. Earlier, men used to go out to drink. Now, a new culture of consuming liquor in family parties has emerged. People are throwing family parties to celebrate even small events. Moreover, kitty parties have also contributed to higher liquor consumption among women, NRIs are also bringing liquor with them and enjoying it during house parties here with relatives.”

Jani thus pointed out that the rise in party culture as well as the growing acceptability of drinking in society has contributed to the rise in the number of women drinkers.

Japan’s Kirin Holdings to buy under 10% stake in Indian craft beer brand Bira

According to Bira’s CEO, Ankur Jain, and a spokesperson of Kirin Holdings, the Japan-based company is buying under 10% stake in Bira, an Indian craft beer brand by investing 30 million (nearly INR 220 crore). Bira is owned by B9 Beverages, a company based in New Delhi. No further details about the financials of this deal have been released to the press yet. However, Jain mentioned that he expects the deal to be closed over the next few days.

Ankur Jain added that this investment will enable Bira to break even in the 2022 fiscal year after having reported losses in the recent years as well as in the pandemic. Furthermore, it will facilitate the plans ofthe Indian craft beer brand to launch its product in Japan in the later part of 2021.

In August, Reuters had reported that Bira was in talks with international brewing companies to sell 20%stake. Valued at $210 million in 2018 by Data Provider Pitchbook, 30% of the company is owned by theCEO Ankur Jain and his family while Sequoia Capital, the U.S. based venture capital firm, owns around 45% stake.

The craft beer products offered by the company have gained popularity recently. According to Bira, the company has a 5-10% market share of the beer market in the metropolitan cities of New Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai although it was launched in 2015.

On the other hand, due to falling sales in its home country, Kirin Holdings has been showing interest in investing in independent breweries. It owns a minor stake in New York-based Brooklyn brewery. But all international dealings have not gone well for Kirin. In the year 2015, its operations in Myanmar came under investigation as its local partner had military connections and in 2017, the company sold its loss-generating Brazilian unit to Heinken after losing market share.

Spirits Producers & Producer Organisations formally unite as the World Spirits Alliance

Global spirits producers unite to get a global voice.



Spirits producers and producer organisations from across the world joined forces recently in Geneva for the formal creation of the World Spirits Alliance (WSA), an international trade association dedicated to representing the views and interests of the spirits sector at the international level. Following many years of successful cooperation, members decided to set up a dedicated, formal organisation to act as the common global voice for the distilled spirits sector.

WSA will act as a representative partner and interlocutor before international organisations, such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations (UN). WSA and its members will continue to pursue the elimination of tariff, non-tariff barriers, and discriminatory taxes, fair, transparent and evidence-based regulation, adequate excise tax structures, proportionate evidence-based public health measures for distilled spirits and ambitious strategies to combat illicit alcohol.

“Many of us have been working together for nearly two decades, hence setting up a formal trade association to act as a united global voice on the integrity and social responsibility of our spirits industry is a natural and important step forward. Distilled spirits are a vibrant and highly dynamic sector with a unique diversity of products and producers across the world,” said Marie Audren who will act as Secretary General for the WSA.


       

“The aims of the WSA are to create a common platform for exchange and have a representative body that will allow us to comment on issues of global relevance, particularly in the areas of trade and regulatory policy, and help develop a positive environment for the sustainable success of the sector,” said Rodolfo González González (Camara Nacional de la Industria Tequilera) who was elected as first President of the WSA.


         

WSA members represent producers of products such as Baiju from China, Tequila from Mexico, Brazilian Cachaça, Indian IMFL, Cognac and internationally traded whiskies like Scotch Whisky, Irish Whiskey and American Bourbon (to name but a few).

“Distilled spirits are celebrated and responsibly enjoyed around the globe and generate jobs, economic growth and tax revenue in the countries where they are produced. At the same time, in many markets around the world, distilled spirits are heavily taxed and regulated, and we face trade barriers that are only applicable, or applied more excessively, to distilled spirits. This situation needs to be reviewed and addressed,” said Amrit Kiran Singh (International Spirits & Wines Association of India) who was elected Vice President.



       

“We want to demonstrate to national authorities that we are committed to responsibility and that advancing fair treatment of spirits products in the marketplace will have a positive impact on their economies,” concluded Chris Swonger, President and CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS).

WSA and its individual members are committed to responsible production, advertising and marketing practices and to encouraging adults who choose to consume spirits, to do so responsibly and in moderation.

The WSA membership includes trade associations and producers of distilled spirits from across the world:

• spiritsEUROPE
• Asia Pacific International Wines & Spirits Alliance Limited
• Camara Nacional de la Industria Tequilera
• The Scotch Whisky Association
• Association of Canadian Distillers
• Pernod Ricard
• DIAGEO
• International Spirits & Wines Association of India
• Japanese Spirits Liquor Makers Association
• Brown-Forman
• Distilled Spirits Council of United States
• Spirits New Zealand
• Rémy Cointreau
• Beam Suntory
• Spirits & Cocktail Australia
• Campari
• Edrington

Sterren Beer bags coveted award in Malaysia

Sterren Beer with its authentic German recipe produced in India under the guidelines of German Standards has been selected as the Prestigious Rising Brands of Asia 2019-20.

Incorporated in 2012, by the Chairman and Managing director, Mr. Vasudevan S, who established Sterren under the entity KALS Breweries.

Triumph of Celebration:

The KALS Group of Companies has varied interest spanning liquor retailing, motor fuel and lube, transport and logistics as well as FMCG distribution. With a grand vision to be successful in building a professional team with focused endeavors in the vertical and horizontal expansion of the Group, KALS Distilleries, KALS Beverages and KALS Breweries were formed by the visionary. Their products have already made their imprint in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, AP, Andaman, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, UP, and Puducherry and with global presence in UAE, Singapore, Malaysia, and Central Africa. Mr. Vasudevan’s visionary thought of Going Global has enabled the Product Life-Cycle Excellence of this product.

L to R: Dr. Uppilliapan Gopalan, COO, Mr. Arulmani Sekaran – Director and Mr. Rajasekaran S – Director of KALS Group, Dr. A.T. Kumara Raja – Chief Economic Advisor to Malaysian Government, Mr. Amit Sengupta – Indian Economist – Cabinet of Parliament to Modi and Chief Editor of Deccan Herald

Brand Quotient

With the headquarters in Chennai, under the stewardship of Mr. Vasudevan S, the brand Sterren celebrates more than 20% market share in this segment in TN and KALS employs more than 3000 employees. Sterren is an entry into ultra-premium with proud variants that fits the choice of all.

Sterren 6 – Premium Quality Beer (Wheat-base Beer)

Sterren 7 – Premium Quality Strong Beer (Lager Beer)

Sterren 8 – Premium Quality Extra Strong Beer (Extra Strong Beer)

Sterren- Authentic Sporty German Word-a Royal Blend of Excellence with Contemporised Brew which are available in three variants of ABV 6%, 7% and 8%. Its quality is simply stellar with an orange citrusy note and available in 650ml, 500 ml and 330 ml beverage grade cans.

Sterren 8 – Premium Strong Beer is enroute to ultra-premiumisation. Sterren -8 indeed is a mix that is consciously branded as a blend of contemporary touch with traditional pitch. Flavour and imported hops makes it a perfect top-notch that rollickingly touches the sentiments of millennials and youths. Sterren is manufactured under the aegis of an agreement through a Technology Transfer Programme from VLB (Berlin) with GMPs complying with the standards of Food Safety Management Systems (ISO 22001:2015), Environmental Management Systems (ISO 14001:2015), & QMS, & BRC AA Standards of International Food Safety Norms

Trailblazing

Practicing brand values like trust, respect, passion and commitment, they strive to create an organisation that delights customers and associates creating a higher recall in every market present. Using their unique German technology and German Recipe they have earned a turnover of 590 million USD. Their recipe is certified under the German Standards. In order to be part of the growing consumption of the beer business and also to be a full-spectrum alcoholic beverage company they strive to deliver integrity, quality and consistency with Sustainable Brand Augmentation for customer loyalty. Their brewery plant is a fully-automatic plant best-in-class in the country with end-to-end manufacturing. It is one of the few brewery plants in the country with Can Beer Line, which services the export market.

Cutting Edge

The German quality of Sterren Beer embarks the taste, flavour and texture on the taste-buds of the consumers. They have invested in research and surveys as they strongly believe in feedback resulting satisfaction and an opportunity of loyalty. The brand interacts and engages with their customers through influential marketing, participation in Oktober fest in Chennai (India), Beer fests and organising Sterren Nights. Their impeccable quality and product packaging also contribute to the high customer acceptance.

When to bottle craft beer?

Craft beer which is available mostly in kegs is now moving to the retail shelf. A look at some of the compelling reasons.


As the craft beer demand continues to grow, the more successful craft beer produces have a happy dilemma when growing organically, is moving on from the first phase when the start-up microbrewery only kegs the beer to bottling beers. The margins created by retailing your beer instead of selling it wholesale have sustained the growth of microbreweries. This successful approach has succeeded in generating phenomenal growth in the industry.

Wholesaling only has downsides, mainly for those micro breweries that do not have their own direct chain of distribution. Those without direct distribution have struggled in the past and are the micro breweries most likely to disappear. Microbreweries without their own direct outlets are those that have tended to fail first over the years. The need to have a substantial distribution network was recognised immediately for example by BrewDog in Scotland, and Whitewater Brewery in Northern Ireland.

The important initial capital outlay required to open a microbrewery needs a rapid growth of sales and margins to sustain the business. You have to have a guaranteed high margin from your own distribution from the very start, or you will need deep pockets to sustain the start up from zero. Many of your clients will also want to enjoy their favourite beer at home or on a picnic. And you need to serve them, or they will buy their tipple from the competition. Therefore you need to satisfy this type of consumption by offering bottled beer, pretty soon after starting your brewery. Initially the quantities to be bottled are relatively modest – maybe only 500 or 1000 bottles at a time for each of your various recipes. Initially, therefore, the easy way, although an expensive way, is to contract bottle outside the premises. This seems the way to go. Contract bottling has many disadvantages and could eat into your margins because of extra logistics cost and scheduling. In-house bottling could be the solution. Bottling in-house requires generally more money than anticipated.

More and more fancy craft beer is also showing up in aluminum cans. Five years ago, just a few dozen craft brewers in the U.S. were canning, while today there are more than 500. The beer in a can cools faster. The can protects from beer-degrading light. Beer cans are portable and take up less space, advantages both for retailers and for consumers who want to take them camping, hiking or fishing. There’s also more space on a can for wraparound design and decoration.

While glass bottles take longer to cool down, they also stay cold longer once they come out of the cooler. Plus, glass producers and plenty of brewers will tell you translucent amber glass has been working fine to protect beer from light and air. The biggest selling point for the bottle, though, is flavour. There’s at least a perception that cans impart a metallic taste, whereas liquid stored in a bottle comes out tasting pure. The metal touching your lips is still a factor in terms of flavour, but most craft brewers suggest pouring out beer into a glass before sipping, whatever package it comes in. It may be coolness, or it may be convenience, but the bottom line is, cans are getting cheaper. Bottling in-house remains a simpler, cheaper process. The Brewers Association estimates just 3% of craft beer on the shelves is in a can. Sixty percent still goes out in bottles, and the rest is sold in kegs. Glass has been a very reliable package and tradition will prove itself well that glass is not going anywhere.

In India quite a few microbreweries plan to launch bottled beer brands to cash in on rising demand for India’s craft beer. So far, India has seen just a few craft beer brands such as Bira, White Owl and Simba, sold off shelves despite nearly 170 microbreweries that opened over the past decade. Karnataka government does not allow brewpubs to distribute in-house beer and are permitted to produce a maximum of just 1000 litres a day. Windmills Craftworks will start producing cans of craft beer from their newly-acquired 2000-litre production brewery in Goa. India’s craft beer industry accounts for 2-3% of the country’s beer market which is largely skewed towards the stronger version. The surge of interest in craft beer has been driven by millennials, many particularly interested in this form of beer that is more authentic, premium and has a complex flavour compared to regular lager sold by MNCs.

But making and selling craft beer at a larger scale isn’t easy. Besides licenses and distribution, brewpubs have to wrestle with cold chain supply infrastructure, short shelf-life of craft beer and smaller budgets compared to United Breweries, Ab InBev and and Carlsberg that together control 90% of the market. As a result, many are planning to roll out variants such as hefeweizen, stout and light golden ale – that can survive better in these tough conditions. And some are opting for pricier cans to package their products instead of glass bottles. Cans are lighter, unbreakable, carry more branding information, have little oxygen uptake and do not allow light to enter easily, unlike bottles. International craft beer brands can collaborate and set up bottling plants in India to retail now. Big commercial beer brands are also waiting, and will hop on the craft brewery segment in the next two-three years. Perhaps herein lies the opportunity for Praj, Krones, Alfa Laval and KHS.

Mead – From bee to bottle

Mead is the new beer or wine for millenials. A look at the history, its production process and its growing importance.

Mead or honey wine is made by fermenting honey with water. Like beer, mead is sometimes flavored with fruits, spices, grains or hops. But it’s generally higher in alcohol than beer and more in line with grape wine – typically between eight and 20% ABV. Also like wine, mead is produced in a variety of sweetness levels, from bone dry to lusciously sweet and can be still or sparkling.

Within the world of mead, there are sub-group. For example, if mead is mixed with beer or brewed with hops and malt, it becomes a hybrid style closer in taste to beer known as braggot. This beverage, unlike its purely mead-made counterparts, can be produced in breweries. Mead with added fruit is known as melomel, while hydromel is a watered-down version consumed in Spain and France. Great Mead is mead that’s meant to age.

Honey wine occupies a somewhat precarious position between beer and wine. Legally, mead is produced in “wineries” and bottles are usually sold in wine shops. But, thanks to the presence of hops, which some brewers choose to add as a natural preservative, mead is often clumped into the craft beer category. But, the reality is that mead is in a category of its own much like cider or sake. A ubiquitous alcoholic beverage, everyone – ancient Greeks, Africans, and Chinese – all drank mead as far back as 3000 BCE. Mead holds particular importance in Norse mythology, especially in the legend of a fabled beverage with magical powers known as “Poetic Mead”. As the story goes, mythological gods created a man named Norseman Kvasir who was so wise he could answer any question. When he was eventually killed, his blood was mixed with honey, and whoever drank this honey-blood mead took on Kvasir’s power of intelligence. And it’s likely this myth that inspired Danish craft mead producer Dansk Mjod to make its Viking Blod Mead, which is flavoured and coloured red from hibiscus. Mead is frequently consumed in Eastern Europe and Russia. Pretty much any country that produced honey has a history of mead production and appreciation.

Outside of Europe, Mead has been and continues to be popular in Ethiopia, where it’s referred to as tej. Customarily a home-brewed beverage, tej is usually flavoured with powdered leaves of the gesho plant, an African shrub which imparts a slightly bitter flavor and preserves the drink, like hops do for beer.

While Ethiopians typically drink tej out of a bulbous glass container called a berele, nowadays in the US mead is usually served in wine glasses. Though sometimes the drink will come in an Old World drinking vessel like a mazer cup from Germany, which is also the name for the world’s largest mead competition. And, for serious history buffs, there’s always a mead horn. Mead is an ancient drink, thought by many to be the first fermented beverage. Mead is diluted honey that has been fermented. The earliest meads were likely accidental fermentations with wild yeasts, but this eventually developed into organised, intentional meadmaking.

But with the rise of beer and spirits, mead started falling out of fashion in the 1700s and never really made a worldwide comeback. The traditional wine industry has largely ignored the shift to tastes for sweeter beverages and/or more direct use of fruit, spice and other flavours. The craft beer industry on the other hand has embraced these changes. Meads with more alcohol, more body/viscosity and more sugar/acidity definitely have a lot more going on, and a glass of complex wine like a late harvest Riesling or Vidal Ice Wine.

There are almost as many kinds of mead as there are meadmakers. There are several general categories that meadmakers use to classify their products. Traditional meads are made from water, honey and yeast. They range from dry to semisweet. The driest are lacking in the characteristic honey sweetness, but they capture the true “essence” of the honey. The sweeter versions retain some of the sweetness of the honey without being syrupy or cloying. Bochets are made from caramelised honey which adds a layer of complexity, especially to sweet meads.

Sack meads are very sweet traditional meads, often aged for extended periods. They can have the character and complexity of a port or sherry, or the sweetness and fruitiness of a late harvest grape varietal. Melomels are meads made with fruit. Depending on the process and fruits used, these can be very fruity, aromatic and sweet, or dry with just a hint of fruit essence (or anywhere in between).

Metheglins are meads made with herbs and spices. Our word “medicine” likely descended from this term. The varieties in this category are almost limitless. Frequent spices used are clove, cinnamon, ginger, and other “wintery” spices. Juniper is another common additive, as are many herbs in the mint and sage group such as mint, lavender, rosemary, sage, etc. Pyment is a fermented blend of honey and grape juice – probably an ancestor of our grape wines. Pyment can be as diverse as the grapes and honeys used to produce it.

Hippocras is a spiced pyment, usually sweet.It is believed to have been popular among early Mediterranean peoples.

Cyser is mead made with apples, and can be as varied as the myriad apple varieties and the numerous British, French, and American interpretations of cider. The addition of honey allows more variation in sweetness, alcohol content, and shelf life.

Hydromel is a newer category used to classify any mead that is less than 10% alcohol (unless you speak French – then it’s just mead). Our Bee Brews are hydromels. These meads can be as varied as the other categories listed above, if not as common.

Braggot is mead made from malted grains and honey, often with hops as well. It can be thought of as a beer/mead hybrid, and probably predates all-grain beers in origin. Modern interpretations vary from sweet “barleywine-style” braggots, to light, hoppy brews.
Mead is experiencing a renaissance, both among commercial producers and homebrewers.
That growing interest has Jeff Herbert, owner of Superstition Meadery, the first of its kind in Arizona, calling mead “the smallest, but fastest growing sector of the U.S. alcohol business.” He sees it firsthand. Superstition made 300 gallons/year when it opened in 2012, and it’s on track to produce 20,000 gallons in 2017. “That number will more than double in 2018, and in 2019, we plan to produce 100,000 gallons of mead and hard cider,” he says.

“Mead is growing because it is amazing,” he says. “Mead is delicious, and the range of style traverses from dry to sweet, still to sparkling, from quaffable to the most complex beverage that will ever pass your lips.” In India Rohan Rehani, co-founder of Moonshine Meadery, tasted mead, he hated it. It was December 2014 and Rehani and his friend Nitin Vishwas were visiting someone in the US. During the trip, Rehani was curious to taste this alcoholic beverage made with fermented honey that had become the new cool drink in America. But he went beyond just trying it out – one day, Rehani and his friends attempted to brew their own batch of mead. Moonshine’s mead is made from multi-flower honey locally sourced from Maharashtra. “The taste of the mead changes completely depending on what honey we are using,” said Rehani. “Just like all grapes aren’t the same, all honey is not the same. The flavour differs depending on the nectar source [flowers]. There is lychee honey, ajwain honey, eucalyptus honey, jamun honey and each one has a slightly different taste which has a huge impact on the final taste.”

Asahi Super Dry Beer – The Beer for All Seasons!

  image006  

As the world raises its glass of beer to celebrate ‘International Beer Day’, it’s time we do too! From the house of Sula Vineyards’ import arm – Sula Selections, in India, comes a much loved beer by beer-aficionados from across the world – Asahi Super Dry!

The premium beer is known for its clean, crisp and refreshing taste. Brewed by an authentic Japanese recipe using only the finest natural ingredients, Asahi Super Dry is made from very rare yeast which not only yields outstanding fermentation, but produces a complex aroma that results in an elegant and sophisticated flavour and ensures Asahi’s pure, crisp, dry taste. In order to obtain the sophisticated and the clear taste of Asahi, strict attention is paid at every step in the manufacturing process in order to eliminate the unwanted tastes of by-products. The beer has a clear light golden look with a big white foamy head. It has a subtle citrus sweet aroma with hints of lemon grass and is flavourful and balanced.

The bottle labelling is stylish and consists of a shiny silver background ‘Asahi’ standing out, printed in black.

A 330ml bottle of Asahi beer costs INR 220 in Delhi.