Rahul Singh, Founder and CEO , The Beer Cafe
When you say change is the only constant, my views are slightly contrarian. Yes change is the only constant. But sometimes some things are left the way they are. And, I think beer is one of them. You can have variations in beer. It has happened. Beer’s is the oldest recipe known to mankind. Consumption-wise, it’s the third largest beverage after water and tea. And that’s why I like it and keep it simple. I am not a fan of hot n happening because hot n happening means that something would exist for a little while.
We invest huge money in our businesses, so I don’t want to experiment with OPM (other people’s money). The idea is we want a stable business. So, relevance is the word that I have always used in our setup. We are a start-up. We began three years ago. We always do a one-year plan and keep chiseling on it.
Today we have 42 outlets in 12 cities in seven states. It is a challenging business. For myself, a textile engineer, trying to sell alco-beverages was a kind of chalk and cheese. We have
seen considerable transition that has happened due to new-age drinking. People want to aspire for better things; they want to drink better; there is nothing wrong in it. But sales have to chase trends.
While starting business, we were convinced that we would start selling on a higher growth rate than spirits which is the trend in the world. But in India the scenario is absolutely lopsided in
favour of spirits. However, three years after starting our business when we pulled out our performance report from the monitor, we found that our growth is remarkable. That’s the good side of our start-up.
Unfortunately, beer in India is taxed based on the volume of the liquid but the tax should based on the alcohol content because the consumer is paying for alcohol. The consumer should not be paying taxes for the water in beer. But the government does not see things in this perspective. Every state is concerned about its revenue and they don’t even see the quality.
We promote responsible drinking culture. We don’t serve any strong beers. We only serve beers, not craft beers which is a misused term. Craft beers are specialty beers. We are
serving about a million people every year. We don’t have a single case against us with police or excise or any other challan which means people come to consume beer at our outlets for responsible drinking.
I am convinced that as more beers come to India and Indians try more beers like Bira and Witlinger, beer will continue to grow. My friend Ishan’s beer is the best Indian beer I have ever had. This beer called Rhino is produced out of Gwalior. He struggled for four years to get licences and now he is on. The beer is available in Haryana and is coming to Delhi now. I can bet if you had that beer you would feel so proud. It is produced from river water, not ground water.
Beer is here to stay. This four-letter word is my life. I believe the new-age consumer will keep consuming it.
When we started off, we had two or three beers on tap. Tap beers from the sales perspective of beer companies is a very difficult proposition. They prefer to sell beer in cases not kegs. But consumers when they come to an experiential place, they prefer beer on tap and consume it in a cup or glass.
We have just opened our new outlet in Lower Parel Mumbai where we have 25 beers on tap. Three years back I was in a dilemma about the number of tap beers in our startup, but today we have 25 beers on tap about 50 beers in the bottle chiller. We are very proud of what India has given us. So, three cheers for beer!