Drifters Brewery was born out of the need to bring Eastern European handcrafted beers to the city. Their journey led us to name the venture Drifters Breweries which encapsulates everything the name stands for and more. Founded back in 2016, it took them almost two years to get a license and start brewing on their own. In the name of Drifters Tap Station, we opened our first outlet at BKC in late 2018. Today they are running small Growler Stations for pick-up and delivery of their craft beer across Mumbai and one in Pune. Excerpts from the interview:
How much money you have put in to building this brand?
We have put around 10 crore in the brand including Brewery setup and all outlets.
You focus on being one of the players in the hand-crafted beer segment in Maharashtra. How have you seen the journey of hand-crafted beer in the region as we see the state has given lots to the brewery sector?
Being one of the players in the Craft Beer Market in Maharashtra, we have seen this industry taking shape from nothing. After the first brewery opened in Maharashtra back in 2009 this industry has seen a good growth, today we have around 20 Breweries in only Mumbai and Pune. Customers have also started getting hooked to craft beer against commercial beers, as they have started to understand that craft beer has no preservatives or no harmful chemicals, and also has a choice of different beers like Ales, Stouts, IPAs, Craft Lagers against Commercial Lagers. Now, the Government also supports us getting directly into our customers house and parties via Growlers, I am looking at this as a major breakthrough for an industry to get many new customers getting hooked to craft from commercial.
Pairing food with beer
We have a proper food and beer pairing guide developed by myself and the chef at our outlet. We make sure that all the mild food gets paired with bitter and low carbonated beers like IPAs and Bitter Ales which gives proper balance. Indian and spicy foods are paired with more easy drinking beers like Belgian wit and German Lager. We also pair some dessert with Our Cream Stout.
You are also a certified brewer. How does it help Drifter in being more niche and special?
Being a Brewmaster of my own brand, I have complete control of the product in my hand. I can make new beers according to global trends whenever needed and that helps Drifters to stay ahead of time in innovation than other competitors. For example, for Christmas and New Years, we created Raspberry Vanilla Milkshake Sour and we are now making something more exotic for the upcoming Valentine's Day. These are the kinds of beers trending across the globe, but no one here is experimenting with such unique stuff. Being a certified brewer, it gives me a chance to bring these flavours to our city, and that is what makes Drifters more niche and special.
Overcoming Covid losses
Covid-19 has impacted many sectors very badly and restaurants and hospitality is one of the major sectors to get impacted. Due to COVID lockdown we had stopped trading from March 2019 until June 2019 completely. But we still had some fixed expenses to cover like feeding our staff and their families, also some fixed electricity bills, etc, so the brand took a huge impact. At the Brewery our beer production got halted. We had to throw some beers due to expiry which again was a huge loss for the brand. During the end of June 2019, the government allowed micro-breweries of Maharashtra to sell beers via Growlers so we started supplying Growlers from the month of July all across Mumbai.