Discover the local beer brand that gives you a taste of Europe
After years of being sidelined, India’s alcobev industry is finally enjoying its moment in the sun. Whether it’s gin, whiskey or beer, there’s a homebrew for every taste and preference.
Proost Beer crossed out by the Delhi-based Grano69 Drinks is a great example. Founded by Vijay P. Sharma and Tarun Bhargava in October 2017, this alcobev brand recently caught the attention of investors and raised $360,000 in seed funding from Dev Punj of Chimes Group and Dauble of Singapore.
“Grano69 Beverages was launched with a mission to introduce Indian consumers to the authentic taste of freshly brewed quality beer. We wanted to create products that the Indian consumer would enjoy to an extent that would make us their favorite alcobev brand,” the founders share in a conversation with YS Weekend.
Vijay, the former CEO of Punj Lloyd Global Offshore Business, has 35 years of experience in scaling businesses from scratch. Tarun has worked at IBM and AON and also co-founded Faagio.com. And, each of them brought a specific skill set when they decided to partner for their new venture Grano69.
“The idea was born out of the lack of good quality beer at an affordable price in the country. With the incumbents only offering age-old beers, Grano69 decided to bring Indian consumers a blend of European tastes by selecting and choosing the best from each country, such as Belgian White Ale, German Lager and Spanish Strong Pilsner” , shares Vijay. .
Claiming its superior quality as a USP, the company strives to maintain the highest standards at every stage of beer production, from raw material selection to product packaging.
Tarun shares, “Until recently, the Indian consumer had access only to substandard products where
beer is concerned. The idea is to introduce Indian consumers to quality beers.
Currently, Grano69 operates on a contract manufacturing model, and the style and taste of each variant differs. Proost White Ale comes from Menin in Belgium, Proost Lager from Valencia in Spain and Proost Strong is made in Punjab, India.
The founders sharing the name Proost was decided after much deliberation. “We did a lot of back and forth. Then we noticed that our brewmaster, who is a Dutch national, used to sign his emails with “Proost”, which means “Cheers”, and is widely used in many European countries. The name touched us because it had all the qualities we were looking for,” they say, smiling.
Based in Delhi, the Grano69 team includes the founders and five key people who manage operations, finance, accounts and sales. The largest workforce is made up of 16 people.
“The company is set to launch in states like Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh in the coming fiscal year. We are also looking at expansion markets in Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru and Goa, and hope launch after our next round of funding,” says Vijay.
The range of products :
Currently, Grano69 offers three beer variations. The first of them is the Proost White Beer — a Belgian white beer with notes of coriander and orange. Then comes the Proost Lager, a mild lager that is thin and crisp on the palate and pairs well with spicy Indian cuisine.
Proost strong – specially crafted for the Indian palate – is the ideal beer to beat the summer heat and is preferred by those who appreciate an extra kick without extreme bitterness.
Proost beers are currently available in Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. Due to differing state excise policies, beer prices vary depending on where they are purchased. These prices vary from Rs 95 to Rs 140 in various markets.
Word about the brand is primarily spread through its social media presence on Instagram and Facebook via its handle @proost69. Its website also provides a detailed overview of its offerings.
“We are also actively involved in organizing house party events, which allows our beers to spread organically through word of mouth. This method consistently results in increased sales at retail outlets,” says Tarun.
Grano69’s Belgian Wheat Ale and Mild Lager was launched in 2018. Strong Beer was launched in 2019 and was originally imported from Spain. It instantly became a crowd favorite, leading the company to manufacture it in Punjab. The latest addition to the repertoire is Domestic Strong Beer, launched in July 2021.
Growth and more:
According to the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), India is one of the fastest growing alcoholic beverage markets in the world, with an estimated market size of $52.5 (about Rs 3.9 lakh crore). Perhaps this is the reason for the success of Grano69 Beverages. The founders started with a personal investment of Rs 3.35 crore. In its first year of operation, the company recorded revenue of Rs 76.7 lakh. It recorded Rs 3.25 crore and Rs 4.20 crore in the years that followed.
The company is targeting revenue of over Rs 9 crore in the current financial year. However, he is prepared for those numbers to change as new COVID-19 restrictions emerge.
“Our business has managed to maintain steady growth despite the negative impact on sales due to COVID-19 related restrictions and lockdowns. We also secured our first seed funding in December 2021…The funds will be used to expand our reach to other states and to hire more people,” says Vijay.
Initially, the company faced a major hurdle related to strict excise policies – different in every state and union territory. Besides the lack of uniformity, these policies tend to change every year, which makes it difficult to strategize for the future. However, the founders also believe that these challenges have made them more agile and prepared for any situation with contingency plans.
“Another major challenge we faced was the uncertainty of lockdown periods due to COVID-19. Due to these restrictions, the consumption pattern became erratic and impacted our initial growth,” says Tarun frankly.
Based on the positive feedback that Grano69 has received for its beers, especially the strong domestic beer, and given the market demand, the company also hopes to transfer the production of its lagers to India in the near future.