India is primarily a lager beer preferring market. Craft Beer is a relatively new entrant. But despite IPA having a good history, it hasn’t gained as much popularity. India is gradually witnessing preference and boom in the craft brew pubs (around 100 numbers) in India with the emergence of players like Bira 91 and White Rhino to a great fanfare in metros apart from pre-existing ones.
The commercial brewing of beer has already become a growing global phenomenon with the US as the leading and oldest market of craft beer. However, the Indian market with dominating players like Tuborg, Hoegaarden, Budweiser, Kingfisher, Heineken, Bira and Kings gaining more popularity, the craft beer industry is gaining momentum quiet gradually.
Aditya Challa, a master of craft beer brewery, saw the potential of Craft Beer and ventured into the brewery business almost a decade ago. A pioneer in microbrewery and craft beer insurgence in Goa, Aditya is a qualified brewer with multi-disciplinary international experience. As the founder of Susegado Craft Beer, Aditya envisioned the potential much in advance and leapt to the opportunity of setting up a brewery in Goa after gaining internal experience.
Aditya shares his experience of diversifying into this very new but popular beverage industry and his plans for the future.
Aditya has a computer engineer background and also holds an MBA degree. He always wanted to be an entrepreneur, and while scouting for various entrepreneurial avenues, Aditya bumped into the idea brewery business of craft beer. After thoroughly understanding and studying the market for breweries around the world, Aditya sketched out his plan for microbrewery set-up in India, with an aim to serve the Asian market.
The Inception of Susegado
Venturing into craft beer brewery business seemed right for Aditya and matched with his interests. The prospect of this business was prevalent as there were only three other companies who started beer brewery in India – Mumbai, Pune and Bengaluru. “The craft beer industry appealed to me in numerous ways. Clearly, the demand was quite evident in the current Indian market. There weren’t any microbreweries in India at that point and coming from a family with a long history in the agro-business, the decision to venture into brewing and distilling deemed right for me,” says Aditya. So once decided, his passion drove him to study the art of brewing and distillery and joined the university in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Once successfully out with the mastery of brewing, Aditya went to Singapore to set up his first brand of Craft Beer – Jungle Beer. He had absorbed good knowledge of conjoining flavours to manufacture and tweak it according to the Asian palate. Experimenting with new ideas and creativity Aditya was able to make a mark for himself in crafting beer. He introduced a range of innovative beers, while Jungle Beer grasped the Singapore market strongly. The brand captivated a lot of the audiences and even received an award at ‘Beerfest Asia’. With new expansion plans coming into the picture, Aditya made a crucial decision of shutting his $1.5 million brewing plant in Singapore. Eventually, in 2014 Aditya decided to quit and exit the Singapore market. “The overhead costs kept on increasing and went overboard, and we couldn’t get any advantage, revenue-wise, for brewing in Singapore. “We had a good five-year run, and it was time to wind-up. So, we wrapped-up the entire brewery into three containers and moved to Goa in the year 2016,” Aditya shared.
Goa is where the brand – Susegado – took birth. The concept of having a beer in Goa is entirely different from the rest of India. Here it is more of an occasion based get-together beverage. Susegado, derived from the Portuguese word ‘sossegado’ which means ‘quiet’, here synonymous with the feeling of being peaceful and content with life. Life in Goa is quite chilled, and the brand name encapsulates the siesta culture of Goa beautifully. The tagline of the brand – the unhurried pursuit of happiness – itself unravels the real essence of the Goan lifestyle. Aditya states, “The relaxed enjoyment of life – is the message that we intend to send across through our brand. The beer that we make is not the kind that is consumed in a hurry or mindlessly. Rather it is something you should savour with every sip, just like enjoying every moment of life here in this coastal paradise.”
But even before the brand could see the light of day, there were multiple tasks at hand including sorting documentations and permissions. From finding a suitable location with an uninterrupted electricity supply; to getting various approvals from the state excise department. “After receiving our license in May 2017, we started our full-fledged operation.”
A revolutionary Craft Beer in town
Susegado Craft Beer is located in Baga and is the first microbrewery in Goa. It is a niche beverage and stands apart from the traditional lagers beers that have outgrown the beer market. It offers unique flavours tailored to suit the Goan palate. The beer has received a positive response from both locals as well as tourists. With a desire to create and offer excellence in quality and flavours, Susegado brews three refreshing, delectable variants of beer – two year-round ales, and a seasonal ale. Aditya explains, “The idea is to brew a variety of beers and not shy away from adding character. On the other hand, lager beer deviates from adding any flavour or hops, as it alienates the consumers from differing tastes.”
Susegado Dorado is an IPA (India Pale Ale, which is a hoppy beer style within the broader category of pale ale). It is created by blending the traditional British style with the American, giving it a slight edge and a contemporary character. “We offer three types of craft beers –Dorado, Seasonal and Trigo. Susegado Dorado is a golden ale with strong hops character with a satisfying bitter finish. The Susegado Trigo is an ale Mango Wheat Beer which is available year-round, prepared by infusing flavours of Alphonso mango and wheat. The third variant, the Susegado Seasonal, offers a rotating selection of beer,” Aditya explains. “From a Vanilla Porter to a Dartmouth Lager, Susegado Seasonal brings on the table a new and unique style of brewed beer from around the world, offering an explosion of new flavours for the consumers, he adds.
Expanding the horizons for a promising future
“Craft beer is all about improvisation, experimenting with a combination of flavours which is quite personal to the brewer. Susegado Goan Craft Beer, in a way, encapsulate the classic Goan outlook. Aditya says, “Since our beer is brewed to suit the Goan palette, we value the feedback we get from the local consumers, which helps us modify the flavour accordingly. As a brand, keeping the consumers engaged in the entire cycle paves way for innovation and creating a quality product,” Aditya adds.
Completing one year and one month since inception, Susegado has gained quite a bit of the Goan market’s attention. It is currently served in 15 different locations across Goa. Being a premium brand, it provides value while striving continuously to deliver quality and experience to the consumer. Since quality is of utmost importance, Susegado monitors closely, the entire process chain from the making to the delivery, including the set-up at the location.
Aditya states, “Although we have just started, the future looks promising. Both the Goan consumers and us, are still very new to this new style of beer. For us, every step is a learning process as we are the only microbrewery in the state. Goa market is foreseeing a number of microbreweries springing up in the near future. In the meantime, we wish to keep our focus on expanding within peripherals of the Goan market and on our core value of serving quality.” Aditya has positioned himself as a trendsetter and master of brewed craft beer in Goa, infusing creativity and new-age techniques into their product. The brand aims at creating an explosion of flavours to revitalise the taste buds of the craft ale lovers in the state.
Their new plans include expanding directly across the sea into Hong Kong, as it’s a known market to them. And down the line, they would start off with the bottling and can plant for their brand of beer. The market has picked up well for the craft beer in the metros, and also in Goa. Seeing the demand, Susegado is here to stay and only to climb up the success ladder.