Making a Room of Its Own: Simba Craft Beer

Launched in the year 2016, Simba is a craft beer brand under the aegis of Prabhtej Singh Bhatia. Available in two variants, Simba Stout and Simba Wit, the company is expecting to sell 20 Lakh Cases/ 4.8 crore pints in FY 18-19.

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COMING FROM a family that was always involved in the liquor business of retailing, the idea to start a craft beer brand cropped in the mind of Prabhtej Singh Bhatia in the year 2009. Not struggling much with the name, ‘Simba’ was always dear to his heart as it perfectly embodies the exploratory spirit. BW Hotelier spoke to Bhatia who told more about the brand.  

Brief us about your brand story

Since our family was always in the liquor business of retailing, we had the idea about the industry and distribution. However, in 2009, I decided to start my own brand to make craft beers and applied for the brewery license. In 2012, we got into the construction of the brewery business by setting up the plant in Chhattisgarh. Getting into manufacturing was a new experience for us, so for two years, we started contract manufacturing for SABMiller. Running brewery for a global brand gave us the required experience as it taught us the different nuances of the industry where we understood the parameters to be considered for delivering quality consistently and hence gradually we mastered the art. In 2016, we completely exited our distribution and retail business and officially launched our own brand by putting in huge investment by setting up the brewery only for Simba.

How do you plan to compete in the market, taking into consideration the popularity BIRA has attained?

The beer market in India is at a very nascent stage but has the potential to make it big. The craft beer market is just going to grow from here and it is not going to be one brand or the other, this growing market will be big enough for brands to co-exist and grow collectively.

Every brewery nowadays has its own style of craft beers. We are proud to say that Simba is the first homegrown craft beer brand as we have our own brewery in comparison to other brands who outsource their beers. Also, It is important to own your brand fully and then learn the art.

Simba is the result of rigorous research on the supreme quality beer, which undergoes a difficult process of using the fresh water from a nearby river rather than using underground water which is usually used by other beer companies. We have spent months scouting for the finest malts and hops, creating experimental batches to perfect the flavour and throw out all conventional wisdom. The brand also uses real orange peel from the farms in Europe along with roasted barley and oats to get the rich flavours in SIMBA Wit. Our stout has a hint of coffee and dark chocolate.

Beer is a category where we can use different elements and experiment with the flavours. This experiment enables one to redefine a category. We want to make this brand a legacy by maintaining the quality of the product and not just indulge in gimmick marketing.

Apart from Chattisgarh, are you planning to set up any new brewery unit?

With the growing demand, we have acquired the license to increase our own capacity for our unit in Chattisgarh, we will be looking to set up a new unit 6-12 months from now, maybe.

Brief us about your expansion plans apart from Mumbai and Bengaluru?

We're really excited to and looking forward to our launches in Mumbai and Bengaluru, we'll be launching in Hyderabad and Kolkata soon too.

Are you planning to launch any new variant?

Absolutely! We’re currently experimenting with several different styles of craft beers at the brewery. Once we are happy and satisfied with the new flavours, we will bring them to our customers. But in the next 12 to 24 months, you can expect to see Simba pioneering several different styles of craft beers.

What are the challenges faced by you in order to successfully operate a Beer Brand?

India has a large liquor market than a beer market. The major challenges would be managing the growth and demand. We want to ensure that we do not compromise on the quality, so we are being very disciplined in the way we are growing.

Brief us about your sales outlook, how many bottles are getting sold in a year?

We sold 10 Lakh cases/2.4 Crore Pints of Simba in the FY 17-18 and we are on track to sell 20 Lakh Cases/ 4.8 crore pints in FY 18-19.


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