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Bira 91 is Brewing Beers to Topple Kingfisher

Bira 91 has two new beers out, out to get the refined folks to love beer, out to get more funds from Sequoia and out to oust Kingfisher beers off the top spot

Ankur Jain, founder of India's newly beloved beer, Bira 91
The new Bira 91 Strong beer coming in June 2017

Ankur Jain was a computer geek who always dreamed of doing something more exciting with his life than sit at a computer and code all day. “Like most techies”. The graduate of Illinois Institute of Technology always dreamt of having his own beer thing going on. To a techie beer is ‘the it thing’ apparently. What makes him not another techie is that he went out and made his beer connoisseur dream come true.

The company was launched in mid 2015 and was a hit, hit, hit. Ankur says they sell 200,000 cases of Bira a month, grown 3x over last year and will grow 4x this year. One of their marquee investors, Sequoia Capital might be coming back to lead their next round of funding. If we see 25 million dollars in Bira’s account by next quarter, then we know that the investors were sold on Bira’s vision for tasty, tasteful beers and that Ankur has become more than a one hit wonder.

This is probably one of the few startups the bros of India actually strengthen their bromance over because they all agree they love Bira (compared to those other startups that brew up divided opinions).

Now Bira 91 is extending their experience to the Indian consumer with two new variants. Bira Light and Bira Strong will be available in stores starting first week of June in Mumbai, Bangalore and Pune, then the week after, in Delhi.

Bira 91 Light

Ankur started the Bira brand because he wanted to make a gourmet beer that tastes great (versus the regular, slightly bitter notes beers carry), and can become a popular choice even with the ‘teetotally’ inclined. “Currently there are about 200 million consumers of alcohol in India, but only half of them consume beer.  A beer that is low in alcohol (4 percent compared to standard 7 percent) and low in calories will hopefully give non-alcohol drinkers a reason to choose a beer when they are looking for refreshment.

Bira Light has only 90 calories. Ankur says, “Bira 91 Light is the lowest calorie option for any alcoholic beverage in the bar. It is lower than a glass of champagne, much lower than Breezers, wine, or cocktails. Heck, it’s even lower than a glass of milk or orange juice.” The beer is positioned as a “lunchtime lager”, with “hops from Europe” to make a clean, crisp, quick refreshment that you can have with a light meal any time of the day.

A 330 ml bottle of Bira 91 Light will retail in Delhi for 100 rupees.

Bira 91 Strong

This is the beer Ankur will be using to go after Kingfisher beers. Market leader for high alcohol content beers, the Kingfisher can is priced at 85 rupees for a 500 ml can. The Bira 91 Strong will be 100 rupees for 500 ml can in Delhi.

At 7 percent alcohol content and described as the first strong wheat based beer, low on bitterness and high on caramel notes, Ankur said about the strong Bira, “This is a big beer. High on flavor, high on taste, high in alcohol content. We want the mainstream consumer to consider and discover taste when they make a choice at the retail shelf. With the introduction of Bira 91 Strong, the difference to the consumer will be obvious and we expect that the consumer will quickly up trade to Bira 91 Strong from whatever they have been drinking thus far.”

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