Beer Meets Bollywood: The Beer World's "Greatest Story Ever Told"?
With the launch of its Bollywood Series line of craft-beers this week, Schubros Brewery of San Ramon, California, is clearly demonstrating its Asian focus, and enjoying some marked, early success.
3.5 million Indian Americans lived in the US according to the 2016 Census, a population approaching that of Los Angeles. They are the most Socio-Economically successful minority group, and are highly geographically concentrated, with nearly a third residing in the NY/NJ/CT Tri-State, or San Francisco Bay Areas.
But can you name a single American craft beer that is made for them?
Now you can. In November, Schubros quietly launched "Seeta Wheat" and "Geeta IPA", the first two beers of its "Bollywood Series". Named for the main characters of the 1972 classic that redefined Bollywood comedy, the bottles sold out within 2 days. Earlier this week, they introduced "Jai Pilsner" and "Veeru Imperial Stout", named for the heroes of the 1975 action-thriller "Sholay". It took 3 minutes for orders to start rolling in to their website http://www.Bollywood.beer.
Schubros already exports roughly half of its volume to Asia, and is spinning off its Asian Sales and Production arm, San Francisco East Bay Brewing (SFEBB), through a "Regulation CF" Internet IPO hosted by online broker Wefunder. The Bollywood Series is the clearest US-market sign to date of Schubros' focus on Asian culture.
"Craft beer in the US is no longer a growth industry. It has matured, and we have to mature as well," explained Ian Schuster, CEO of Schubros Brewery and SFEBB. "Instead of just chasing today's style fad, we need to focus on whom we want to engage, then brew for, and speak to, them."
"I grew up in Nagpur, India," added Atul Madne, SFEBB's Chief Information Officer. "Murty, our [SFEBB] President of India was raised in Dehradun and Bangalore, India. Ian grew up in Edison, New Jersey. All of us came from Indian communities. We understand how Bollywood occupies a special place in our heart, and it's a great feeling to see that celebrated here too."
Schubros has faced criticism for its Indian focus from those who argue that Indians do not drink much, and therefore are not a worthwhile niche. There is a grain of truth behind that, admits Murty Chennubhotla, SFEBB's President of India. "But it's wrong," he clearly counters. "India's national beer consumption rates are highly misleading. The entire state of Gujarat for example -- roughly the population-size of California plus Texas -- is dry. Imagine how severely that skews national per capita numbers. Plus, as the world flattens and urbanizes, we are seeing a much more pronounced bar and pub culture emerge within metropolitan areas. India has historically been a Spirits-dominated alcohol-economy, but that's rapidly changing.
"In 10 years," Chennubhotla continued, "Indian beer sales will double. Given increasing wages, increasing employment, and social media's amplification of trends, craft beer sales will jump 10-fold."
"But first we are taking the easy steps to test and refine engagement here in the heavily South-Asian populated South and East Bay areas," explains Schuster.
Based on sales of the Seeta and Geeta brands, and the initial traction enjoyed by Jai and Veeru, it's looking like this could be the start of "The Greatest Story Ever Told".
For more information visit http://www.schubrosbrewery.com