BW Exclusive: Arko – The New Go-To Beer In Town
India seems to be the latest hub for new beer brands. It is safe to say that India is experiencing a golden age of beer because the craft beer storm has brewed for quite some time now. However, unlike a few years back, Indians now have many options, and we will now get another option. A beer brand is about to launch in India this month, and we can’t wait to get our hands on it. The new beer brand is Arko, a beer brand curated by Mihir Vyas, who aims to not produce just a brand but create an experience around it.
Brewer World got to speak to Mihir Vyas, Co-Founder of Arko, about the new launch and the struggle behind it. Excerpts below…
What is Arko Beer? What is the story behind it?
Arko is the new ”go-to” beer, I shall say. Arko beers are light, smooth, and refreshing that they can be had anywhere, any time of the day.
A couple of years back, when I moved to Canada, I went to buy some beer on my first day, and I was highly fascinated by the number of options they had. They had aisles full of different beers from local as well as international breweries. The same night, I went to a taproom and saw they had more than 100 taps, i.e., more than 100 options of beer! I guess that was the moment when I realised the potential of beer in the Indian market. The way beer was a natural part of their lifestyle was just so exciting. I could clearly see the massive gap in India and how we are gradually changing our mindset towards beer by accepting it as a casual drink. That is when I decided to start my own brand.
Last year, I took this thought very seriously, did a lot of research, and spoke to many people about this idea’s feasibility. Finally, I discussed everything with my girlfriend (now fiancée) Madhvi Jagda (Co-founder) about the whole plan, and we just decided to go for it!
I quit my job, moved back to India, and that’s when Arko was born.
The name ”Arko” is inspired by the Sun and its quality to shine as the brightest star, giving light and rays of hope, strength, and positivity to the whole world. And let’s agree Arko sounds quite remarkable!!
What is a premium beer, according to you?
Premium beers are usually differentiated by the type and quality of the ingredients used while making them. It is also about the taste and feel of it. But for me, premium beers are not only the ingredients and the taste, but the feel-good factor you give to your customers. It is about the experience that you create for them to be associated with your brand. It is about how special you make them feel while using your products.
Why is Arko a good beer brand?
At Arko, we don’t want to sell ”just beer”. We want them to drink Arko not because they want to consume beer but because they feel happy and delighted every time they have it. They should feel like they own it. This is why we are calling it a good brand because it’s not just beer. It is a lifestyle that everyone will love and want to be a part of.
What are the beer styles Arko will satisfy the consumers with?
At the moment, we are coming up with 2 variants, a lager, and a wheat beer. Both are mild and refreshing beers that can be consumed anywhere, anytime. Something which suits every occasion. We always wanted to create ”go-to” beers rather than experimenting with different styles and flavours.
We have named the lager ‘‘Arko Gold”. It is a beautiful golden yellow colour lager with a light body and a refreshing lime flavour that can be enjoyed always. And we call it the Gold because we know for sure it is the Gold in its category and people love it. We’ve tested it with a limited number of people, and they just can’t get over it!
The wheat beer is called ‘‘Arko Light Wit’‘. It is a traditional wheat beer with a twist. It is smooth, light, crisp with hints of orange peel, coriander, and lemongrass for all day and all seasons. The twist is that it is a low-calorie beer, lower than most cocktails, a glass of milk, or even orange juice. We do not have a wheat beer in the market that is low on calories, so this will be the first of its kind. It is the beer to satisfy your taste buds with zero guilt.
We are also working on other styles, especially sour beers, as that is one of my personal favourites, and we will be releasing it once we have the existing ones up and running.
When and where do you plan to launch?
We launched it in the first week of December in our hometown Mumbai. Orders can be placed via our website (bitly/order-arko) or our social media accounts (@arkobeer).
We’re also going ahead with the ”on-tap model” and have already got various bars in Mumbai and Pune onboarded with us. So that’s also where you’ll find us soon.
After Mumbai and Pune, where else do you plan to launch it?
Definitely the North. North has a substantial fast-growing market, and consumer choices are changing as well. Consumers are moving from hard liquor to drinking and trying new beers. This is why we see so many new brands emerging from that region, and there is always room for a new brand. However, I feel the beer-drinking culture in the north is still developing and yet to be tapped on compared to Bangalore, where we have a microbrewery at the end of (almost) every street; also, the world’s biggest microbrewery is situated there.
What are the pros and cons of starting a beer brand?
Everybody loves beer, but nobody wants to be a part of it. It is so heavily regulated that it becomes challenging to enter the industry and to survive. This makes it a highly capital-intensive industry. There is no support from the financial institutions whatsoever. You get a straight NO the moment you tell them that your product is beer. Now all you can do is rely on private funding. So while it sounds fun and cool to have your own beer brand from the outside, there are a lot of limitations and problems you face on the inside. If things were eased out like other industries, I am sure we would have a lot of new brands coming up and a great variety of beers to try.
The most significant advantage of this product is that it is a long game.
Unlike other traditional industries, the craft beer industry in our country has a lot of potential because it is still relatively new. We are witnessing people moving from conventional commercial brands to trying new beers. The young population and their acceptance of beer as a casual drink is playing a significant role here.
This is why we see so many new brands and breweries coming up. Now we have great beers flowing across the country, which was unlikely a few years ago. But this majorly exists in Tier 1 and few Tier 2 cities. So, it is going to be a long time before the market saturates. Also, there is nothing that can replace beer. It is always going to be there for generations to come. As long as you are innovating and giving people something they love, you’re in this for the long haul.
And being a big beer fan myself, it’s just so satisfying to see people having and loving my own beer. It’s something that pushes me to do better every day!
How different is Arko compared to the others in the market?
Even though we have the same styles as most beer brands out there, our products still have their own USP. Arko Gold, the lager, is a lime-based lager, and Arko Light Wit is a low-calorie wheat beer. Both have their uniqueness which is different from others in the market, and we will be highlighting this during our promotions and campaigns to give out the message clearly on how we stand out.
There is a saying, ”Less” is More. So unlike others, we are going to have limited options but the best of its kind. Also, we are focusing only on light beers. We want to develop beers that can be consumed and liked by all. We are not focusing on experimenting with various styles or have a lot of variants like the others. Our whole and sole focus is to grow the brand based on this ideology where we give limited options but the best ones.
Every beer that will launch shall have its own identity, which helps us build customer loyalty for the brand and the product. We are absolutely quality focused rather than quantity-focused. This is how we separate ourselves from others.
What is the price of Arko beers?
Currently, we are selling at Rs.500/- per litre on our online ordering platform. We also have various launch offers that our customers can avail. And when it comes to bars and restaurants, the price of Arko will vary from place to place. But we are trying to fit in anywhere between Rs.300/- to Rs.350/- per pint.
Who is your brew master?
We have tied up with a local brewery where we develop our own recipes ‘in collaboration with their in-house brew master.