CEO & Founder, Brew Nation
“Engineering was my father’s wish, brewing is my destiny,” states Ankit Sethi, a classic Indian entrepreneur. It was in his final year of engineering, when he realized his passion for brewing. “I was clear, I will not be a part of the herd after engineering and head to USA. So, in the final year of engineering in 2004, I noticed a lot of interesting ideas emanating from the beer business” says Ankit. On completing his Masters in Brewing & Distilling in 2006 from Heriot Watt University, Sethi went on to pursue his dreams, and today is the CEO of BrewNation, a front-runner company which deals with the supply of raw materials and dispensing gear Ankit Sethi, CEO and Founder of BrewNation, talks to Brewer World on the rise of his empire – BrewNation.
The Early Years
While completing his course from Heriot Watt, Ankit got a job as a maltster in Britain’s leading malting company and then a year’s stint at Pure Malt that involved detailed analysis of malt, malt extracts, flavours and working on New Product Development. Joining Diageo in 2007 (makers of Johnny Walker), as a distiller in Speyside Scotland for making Single Malt whisky, captivated me for the next three years, learning the art of distilling and adding to my skill set. “For an Indian to do this in Scotland was really exciting. It was a very good opportunity,” he adds. In July 2011, I moved to the UB Head office in Bangalore, to work on ‘Project Samriddhi’ a collaboration with Accenture, my task was to work on several areas of a brewery to increase efficiencies, reduce wastages, streamline processes and so on. I stayed with the UB Group till November 2013 working in roles like project manager, brewing manager, etc.
In 2013, brew pubs were expanding across the country, in Pune, Bangalore and Mumbai. “As I was consulting with the bigger brands, working with beer and whisky companies. In 2015, I could see the market expanding. I received a call from a friend in Bangalore. He needed some advice so I gave a few suggestions which worked when implemented. He was impressed and suggested to take up consulting full time. I did, and started helping friends with technical problems mainly arising from equipment and hardware. This was a very small beginning, though.”
“As a consultant, I focused on brewpubs using quality equipment, the right products and storing them the right way, it was quality all the time”. “Friends in the Bangalore market told me they were having issues with raw material suppliers. Most vendors who supplied products are not from the beer background, hence the product quality suffered. What they needed was suppliers who could supply the right quality products.”
This was the opportunity I was looking for. Since I was aware of processes and quality raw material procurement, I knew that quality was a key differentiator so I decided to focus on raw material supply and started supplying to several quality conscious brewpubs.
“It has everything a brewer can dream of – finest equipment and raw materials like YCH hops, Bavarian malts, yeast, herbs, spices, oak barrels for ageing beer, dispensing towers, kegerators, glassware, innovative tools like gas blenders, nitro generators…everything. It’s a single point contact for all things one needs for setting up a brewery,”.
In March 2016, BrewNation was created, and dedicated to supply products and provide technical support to the brewing segment. “It has everything a brewer can dream of – finest equipment and raw materials like YCH hops, Bavarian malts, yeast, herbs, spices, oak barrels for ageing beer, dispensing towers, kegerators, glassware, innovative tools like gas blenders, nitro generators…everything. It’s a single point contact for all things one needs for setting up a brewery,”.
My focus on BrewNation is to provide top quality products and services. BrewNation’s advantage to the market is top quality ingredients, fully equipped cold room and international standard malt storage and technical know how about the entire brewing process acquired over a decade.
BrewNation is the only authorised distributor for YCH Hops in India and neighbouring countries. Yakima Chief Hopunion, is a 100% grower-owned, global premium quality hop supplier. The quality of products that BrewNation sells to Indian clients, is as per the culture of continuous improvement centered on sustainably produced, innovative hop products for beer, whether it is whole leaf hops, hop pellets, or hop extract products. The same goes for their other products as well. Raw material supplied is from leading companies thus ensuring quality sourcing from reputed suppliers. Our In-house cargo clearance and logistics team ensures products are shipped, stored and delivered right always.
A fledgling organisation, BrewNation has big plans to streamline the way products come in, we aim to understand that and to get the breweries to start using the finest Bavarian malts, new world hops varieties, specialised strains of yeast, experiment with flavours. We are doing this all to empower brewers to brew quality yet off centred beers without worrying about ingredients,”.
We are just a call away for any technical help regarding the brewing process.
Currently BrewNation has several clients across India and are now ready to grow internationally.
The Future & Challenges Ahead
The Indian craft beer market is still relatively small but growing slowly. This also makes it very dynamic as breweries want to be a step ahead with innovative beers and it’s a challenge to stock such vast portfolio of products. We are constantly travelling, educating customers on importance of using quality products through the entire brewing process.
I am concerned about the business flow in to microbreweries in India today. We have fewer brewers getting into the business. If there are only business folks, they don’t hire the right consultant to guide them. All decisions that go into making of the beer etc are done after the equipment is purchased. Many ignore the need for specialised equipment, modifications for brewing different beer. Even a minor engineering defect in the equipment can give terrible off flavours, oxidisation, and microbial infection. In this case, we help them detect and rectify these minor or sometime major defects to help them streamline the brewing process to brew quality beers.
Today, in India, wheat, no doubt is the best-selling beer.” People are not used to overwhelming flavours and aroma of hops, but there will be seasonal beers coming in, fruit infused, barrel aged sour beers. With exposure and acquiring taste, they will like Stout, Dunkel’s, Porters, IPA”.
I am optimistic that the beer industry in India is at an inflection point from where it can only go up. My own venture BrewNation is also slated to ride the industry growth. The expertise we have in this segment is second to none and we are now ready to go global.