The Power Of I 2018

Prince of hops

A three-year-old homegrown craft beer brand is making waves in Indian pubs

Photographs by Vishal Koul

India’s beer market has for long been ruled by three big multinationals — the Heineken-owned United Breweries, Carlsberg and AB InBev. But 38-year-old Ankur Jain’s homegrown craft beer brand, Bira 91, is brawling it out with the biggies at pubs and homes. Between challenging a mammoth incumbent, Kingfisher, in the premium category, to becoming the most sought after beer in metro pubs, the quirky monkey sold 2.6 million cases last year. With its focus on light tasting beer and unique brand positioning, it has caught the fancy of millennials, a target segment that the incumbents took for granted. In less than three years, the brand has cornered 14% share in key markets such as Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. After tasting success in India, Bira 91 wants to repeat the same in Asian markets and the US. While it’s still early to predict if Bira 91 can win globally, back home it has ended up giving MNC players a hangover.