Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Imported Beer in India

India has the largest population of whiskey drinkers in the world, beer on the other hand is a different story. Though there are foreign brewers like SABMiller who brew both local and international brands in India, finding a pint of imported beer in India is quite hard. Here are a few I've come across in Delhi. I will review them individually over a series of posts.


It is a Belgian witbier(white beer) with 4.9% alcohol content. This has to be one of my favourite imported beer for 2 reasons.
> It is easily available in most high end liquor stores
> It tastes like heaven!

Tasting Notes(courtesy

Hoegaarden pours out a clear, pale straw color with a white head. The aroma is comprised of a slightly sweet wheat malt component, fresh citrus notes, a low yeasty pepperiness with coriander undertones and a very, very slight tartness. No discernible hop aroma. Hoegaarden has a medium-low spicy/peppery aspect in the flavor that is supported by a low, wheat malt sweetness. There is a low level of spice/herb quality that is from the coriander that persists into the finish. Very, very low hop flavor. Hoegaarden is medium-low bodied and effervescent in it’s carbonation.

The Glass

Different styles of glassware complement different styles of beer for a variety of reasons, including enhancing aromatic volatiles, showcasing the appearance, and/or having an effect on the beer head. The traditional Hoegaarden glass is a Belgian Witbier glass, i.e., a multi sided tumbler that displays the hazy, straw body and voluminous white head.

What its Costs, Where you get it?

Hoegaarden in Delhi can cost you between Rs 120 - 150 at a liquor store and between Rs250 -500 at restaurants/pubs. Also you should look out for the Hoegaarden draught beer straight out of the keg! Its really something else and surprisingly not that hard to find. Available in most fine dining restaurants and high end liquor stores, it is easily one of India's most common fully imported beer.

Have a say? Let me know!


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

India's Pride - Indus Pride

SABMiller eyes overseas venture for Indus Pride

SABMiller believes that its newest beer brand in India, Indus Pride, could rise to become an international success.

Indus Pride, which was launched in Rajasthan last October, could be taken overseas once it has established itself nationally in India.

SABMiller developed Indus Pride, a 100% malt beer, to mount a challenge to the Kingfisher beer brand owned by billionaire Vijay Mallya's United Breweries. Both Kingfisher and Indus are classed in the growing 'mild' beers category, due to an abv of less than 5%.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Due my other engagements I wont be able to contribute to the blog anymore which has not been updated for a long time now.

In case anyone is interested in taking up the mantle, please post your willingness to do the same and I am ready to transfer ownership and blog posting rights to the concerned person.



Thursday, September 13, 2007


Globally consumption of spirit is on decline and wine has stabilized. Only small drinks are on slight rise. Growth rate of consumption of spirits and wine has been highest over 1992-97 in UK, India and Australia (over 33%).

Globally alcohol is imbibed largely through Beer & much less through spirits and wine, whereas, in the case of India it is just the opposite.


Branded spirits market in India is 119 million cases out of which Whisky accounts for
55%, Rum 27%, Brandi 14%, Gin 3%, Vodka 1%. North and west India consumes more of
whisky and South, more of Brandy and Rum. The UB Group (35%) has a market share of 35% + 13% = 48% after merger of Spirits Division of Shaw Wallace (13%), Jagajit (7%), Mohan Meakins (7%) and IDL (3.5%). The key MNC’s operating in the India include Diageo, Seagram, Bacardi. About 80% of whisky is sold at below Rs.200 per bottle and 1% above Rs.600.

AP (24), TN (19.3), Karnataka (11.2), Kerala (10.9) & Rajasthan (5.7) consume 60 % of the total IL, which is growing at about 11%.

About 115 million cases of CL is sold in the country and the growth rate is 0.5%. The
CL market is highly regulated, sold generally as commodity, often dominated by cartels, traders get disproportionate share of MRP. CL companies predominantly are state centric e.g. Saraya & Radico in UP, GM Brewery & Vasant Dada in Maharashtra, IFB Agro in West Bengal, Som Distillers and Kedia in MP, Glenn in Haryana etc.

A.P., Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have abolished RS based CL in favour of cheap ENA
based IMFL. UP (19.5), Maharashtra (19.3), Karnataka (13.6), Punjab (10.2) & Haryana (9.4) consume 63% of the total CL.

The Indian beer market is 93 million cases and has grown at 5.54% p.a. over 2003-05.
Several parts of India are showing much higher growth rates. Five States, Andhra Pradesh (18.3), Maharashtra (16.2), Tamil Nadu (9.0), Karnataka (9.0), & Rajasthan (5.6) account for 63% of total beer consumption and top 10 States for 85%.

Indian beer industry due to merger and acquisition is dominated by two top players
(i.e. UB and SAB Miller together have a market share of 75%) and provide attractive
profit margins due to the consolidated nature of the industry. The Chinese beer market in contrast is marked by intense competition with 400 brewers. The top 10 brewers account for only 45% of the market. Lower taxes on beer, falling distribution margin and prices have contributed to the surge in the consumption of beer in India.

Credits: Information sourced from the Model Policy for Alcoholic Beverages & Alcohol.
For more information mail @ Vinod

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Action taken by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) on surrogate liquor advertisements in the last few months, puts the spotlight on the rising number of consumer complaints against such advertisements.

In one of our previous posts "THE RISE OF SURROGATE ADVERTISEMENTS" we had discussed the factors which have lead to the birth of the same in India.

Between April and June this year, three liquor ads which were termed as 'surrogate' by the consumer complaints council (CCC) of ASCI, have been withdrawn. In case of a few other advertisements which ASCI felt were surrogate, assurance of compliance is awaited from the advertiser.

Among the ads which were withdrawn, is United Breweries' Kingfisher Premium ad which showed a visual depiction of a dancing couple with "packaged drinking water" written in fine print.

ASCI felt that the visual and the headline ("the night rocks") did not bear any relevance to the product advertised - packaged drinking water. In the absence of specific information, ASCI felt the advertisement appeared to be a surrogate advertisement for a liquor brand. Another ad which was withdrawn after being declared surrogate, was from Diageo India.

The complaint against this ad was that while it mentioned the brand name 'Johnnie Walker', it talked about CDs and cassettes, which bears no relation to the product or service being promoted. ASCI upheld the complaint against the advertisement, which was subsequently withdrawn.

Similar was the outcome of United Spirits' Antiquity ad. Though the ad stated "indulge in Blue Antiquity", it mentioned CDs and cassettes without showing any visual depiction of the same.

After ASCI's decision that it was indeed a surrogate advertisement, the advertiser informed the watchdog about the temporary suspension of the campaign as regards new ads. The existing advertisements of Blue Antiquity have been withdrawn.

Complaints against Seagram India's Royal Stag ("Make it large") and Chivas Regal (which mentioned CDs and cassettes in fine print) were also upheld by ASCI.

The complaint against Seagram's Royal Stag ad was that it showed photographs of sports personalities, though the line "make it large" has a connection with alcoholic drinks.

In absence of any visual depiction of cricket gear, and the mention of the brand name 'Royal Stag', the complainant felt that the advertisement was a surrogate ad for a liquor brand.

One of the Chivas Life ads mentioned "ice fishing in Alaska". The complaint against the ad was that while it mentioned CDs and cassettes in the fine print, there was no visual depiction of the same.


When analyzing a beer, you can't just swill it down, burp and say "it's great" or "it's crap." And, even though tasting is an individual art, there are a few steps, which if followed, will take your beer tasting to a blissful level.

Take pause and marvel at its greatness before you partake of it. Raise the beer in front of you, but don't hold your beer to direct light as this will dilute its true color. Describe its color, its head and its consistency.

Swirl your beer, gently in the glass. This will pull out aromas, slight nuances, loosen & stimulate carbonation and test head retention.

90-95% of what you experience is through you sense of smell. Breathe thru your nose with two quick sniffs, then with your mouth open, then thru your mouth only (nose and mouth are connected in the experience). Let olfaction guide you. Agitate again if need be, and ensure that you are in an area that has no overpowering aromas. Enjoy its bouquet.

Now sip the beer. Resist swallowing immediately. Let it wander and explore your entire palate. Let your taste buds speak. Note the mouthfeel, the consistency of the liquid's body, and breathe out during the process of tasting. This process of exhaling is called "retro-olfaction" and will release retained stimulations at the mucus and mouthfeel level, but at a higher temperature. At times this will be the same as the olfactory process if not different and complimentary. Try to detect any sweetness, salty flavors, acids and general bitterness. Explain what they are, or what they are similar to.

Also, try tasting the beer after it warms a bit (just a bit mind you). Really cold beer tends to mask some of the flavors. As a beer warms, its true flavors will pull through, become more pronounced.


Pouring beer is an art, and definitely part of the overall tasting experience. It is always suggest that you drink a beer out of a glass, and recommend that you read Glassware for Beer. It's a great primer to understating why, and a guide to pairing a beer to its appropriate glass.

The following demonstrates the most common pouring technique which can be applied to most beers and glassware types. You'll also find that most bartenders pour draught beer as follows too.

  • Use a clean glass. A dirty glass, containing oils, dirt or residuals from a previous beer, may inhibit head creation and flavours.
  • Hold your glass at a 45° angle. Pour the beer, targeting the middle of the slope of the glass. Don't be afraid to pour hard or add some air between the bottle and glass.
  • At the half-way point bring the glass at a 90° angle and continue to pour in the middle of the glass. This will induce the perfect foam head. And remember, having a head on a beer is a good thing. It releases the beer’s aromatics and adds to the overall presentation. You may also want to gradually add distance between the bottle and glass as you pour, to also inspire a good head. An ideal head should be 1" to 1-1/2".

Friday, September 07, 2007


Krait Prestige (US)/ King Cobra (UK) is Cobra Beers newest entry into the high quality beer world. Cobra beer, started in 1989 in the UK by Karan Bilimoria, a Cambridge law student, brews Indian style lagers. While not many of you may have heard of the brewery, they produce excellent beer that is now exported to over 35 countries. In 2005 and 2006 they won countless awards including 12 Gold medals in 2006 at the prestigious Monde Selection in Brussels- The World Selection of Quality competition. Unable to use the Cobra trademark in the US they launched Krait, a snake in the Cobra family, in 2004. They are available in around a dozen states so far.

Cobra Beer is having Poland's Browar Belgia and the famous Rodenbach brewery in Belgium make a special pilsner style lager for them. What is most interesting is that this 8% abv. brew is re-fermented in the bottle for natural carbonation. Now this is done with quite a few other fine beers, but they say they are going for a product more similar to "champagne" and is sold in a similar style bottle. In the Beverage World article they claim that it looks and has a head like a "champagne", and the taste is "extra smooth, soft, slightly fruity, and it's incredibly drinkable. The Beer Advocate says it tastes "very dry, medium bodied with subtle flavors" make it sound pretty tasty to me.

This will be a tasty brew that will go great with all types of food, whether a mild dish like fish, or with complex foods, and even spicy curries. This brew will be at its best chilled to the same temperature you would for a sparkling wine, a bit colder than the usual beer. I look forward to trying it as soon as I find a bottle or two.

Monday, September 03, 2007


Indians love their booze, but beer, it seems, leaves them cold. The country ranks tops globally in consumption of whisky, but it's somewhere near the bottom in beer drinking. So why is just about everyone in the brewing industry scrambling to get a piece of the market?

Pretty small is putting it mildly. Although India boasts the world's second most populous nation, when it comes to beer it barely figures on the map—leaving plenty of upside for brewers who can get in early. Annual per capita consumption is very low estimated at 0.8 litres per annum. If you look at the statistics of other countries it tells a very different story.

Getting Indians to switch from liquor to beer won't be easy. Brewers must contend with a dizzying list of bureaucratic restrictions that make it tough and expensive to win customers and to build a national footprint. Steep tariffs render imports uncompetitive. And state excise taxes of as much as 150% can push the price of a pint of domestic brew up to more than $3, or about triple what a shot of local whisky might cost.

Ads for beer are banned. As a result, brewers have to be creative in building their brands on a national scale. SABMiller, for instance, sells a mineral water called Royal Challenge—not coincidentally the name of one of its lagers. Vijay Mallya, launched Kingfisher Airlines—named after United's flagship brew, India's top seller—and emblazoned the planes with its logo.

In short, international brewers will be charged with crafting a beer culture in India largely from scratch. In that, at least, they have demographics in their favor. Roughly 60% of the population is under 30. What's more, incomes are rising, powered by an economy that's growing at 9%-plus. These trends are expected to fuel growth in beer consumption of up to 15% a year through the end of the decade.

Monday, August 20, 2007


Advertisements have a strong influence in our life. We like them because they provide information and create awareness about the market. But many times, some advertisements are accused of misleading people. When such accusations are proved, some advertisements are scrapped off from media. Such instances have been reported in the advertisements endorsing alcoholic drinks and cigarettes. Hence the Government had imposed a ban on advertisements of these products in the media in the year 2002.


As a reaction to the directive of Government, the liquor & tobacco majors sought other ways of endorsing their products. They have found an alternative path of advertising through which they can keep on reminding their liquor brands to their customers. They have introduced various other products with the same brand name. Launching new products with common brand name is known as brand extension, which can be carried out for related products (eg: Kingfisher Airlines and Kingfisher Beer). In this case, the companies launch other products with the same brand name for the purpose of reminding their old customers. Heavy advertising is done so that the customers do not forget their liquor & tobacco brands, for which advertisements are banned. The advertisements for such new products are placed under the category of "Surrogate Advertisements". Their only objective is to compensate the losses arising out of the ban on advertisements of one particular product (i.e. liquor). This is a loophole challenging the Government's action.


The liquor industry is a prominent player in this game. Few surrogate advertisements shown in print, electronic and outdoor media are - Bagpiper soda and cassettes & CDs, Haywards soda, Derby special soda, Gilbey green aqua, Royal Challenge golf accessories and mineral water, Kingfisher mineral water, White Mischief holidays, Smirnoff cassettes & CDs, Imperial Blue cassettes & CDs, Teacher's achievement awards etc. These products bear exactly the same brand name and logo, which we had seen earlier in liquor advertisements. It was little surprising to know that liquor giants like McDowell's and Seagram's have entered into new segments like cassettes & CDs, mineral water, sports accessories etc. Later it was found that the basic aim of these surrogate advertisements was to promote their liquor brands like beer, wine, vodka etc. This brand extension is an act of bypassing the advertisement ban.


The industry segment has its own standpoint in defense. The liquor lobby claims that everything is in accordance to the Government regulations. They clarify that they have stopped showing liquor advertisements and they are free to use the brand name for any other products. Even the Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverages Companies (CIABC) advertising code maintains that advertisement of products (real brand extensions) by the liquor industry must be allowed.