In Conversation With Javed Murad From White Owl | Stay Tipsy
Javed Murad started White Owl right after he graduated from Harvard Business School. Being a beer lover, and a beer geek, he wanted to introduce the concept of craft beer back home and thus began the journey of White Owl Brewery and it’s lip smacking brews.
We spoke to Javed about his journey, and everything that is coming up for the brand in the future. Read on to know more!
Tell us about the inception of White Owl Brewery. How did it all start?
I stumbled upon great beer when I was in grad school in Boston in 2007, which is when craft beer really started picking up in the US. It was so easily available everywhere and so well priced that whenever I visited Mumbai for a holiday it became glaringly apparent that we needed better beer. A few years later, after having discussed this with friends, mentors and colleagues ad nauseam, I decided to actually do something about it and moved back to put together a detailed business plan that culminated into White Owl.
With so many different brands of craft beer now available in the city, what makes White Owl stand out?
Whereas the beer space in India may have many brands already, the skew is especially lopsided. On the one hand, our consumer has a large number of options for typical low-cost, mass-produced beer that will always form the bulk of every market. In stark contrast, there are almost no options available in the premium beer segment, where quality and craft supersede cost.
In my opinion, this phenomenon completely mismatches the trajectory of our young, growing, urban population that has begun to earn well, has its finger on the pulse at all times and is continuously making finer, more evolved consumption choices. This is the gap that White Owl is addressing.
You use natural ingredients in your beer. Are they locally sourced?
As of now, the majority of our ingredients are imported from specialty suppliers all over the world. That said, we do have a strong bias to source all our raw materials locally and are confident that as Indian farming practices evolve over the next few years, we will successfully migrate all overseas purchase to local farmers/business owners.
Why did you decide to first launch White Owl in Mumbai? Why not in any other city in the country?
Three main reasons. First, Mumbai is home for me and consequently starting here had a few infrastructure advantages that were important in our early days. Second, at the time of our inception, Maharashtra Microbrewery laws allowed us to sell our craft beer beyond the four walls of our brewpub which was a critical strategic element of our product testing and market acceptance plan. And last but not the least, I was certain that if we could win over Mumbai’s well-travelled and generally hard-to-satisfy consumer, we would have a tremendous amount of added confidence to expand our portfolio across the rest of India.
What is White Owl’s bestselling brew?
Spark, our Belgian wit with summery orange-citrus notes remains our best-seller which also makes intuitive sense as a good wheat beer will always be a winner in India. Brewed correctly, it is incredibly refreshing, easy on the palate, familiar in taste and light-bodied, which is especially compelling in a hot, tropical climate.
You’ve started out with beer bottles in Goa. Are you going to expand this addition in other cities as well?
What are your future plans for The White Owl Brewery?
We have exciting times ahead! Our expansion plans include new geographies and new product formats for our established, award-winning craft beer portfolio. Our beer is currently available – On Tap in Mumbai and Pune, and in bottles in Goa and Bengaluru at over 750 restaurants, bars and retails stores. Later this week, we are launching our craft beer in Bottles across both Mumbai and Delhi, and doing the same in Pune in November.
Until recently, we had only bottled two styles of craft beer: Spark, our Belgian Wit, and Diablo, our Irish Red Ale. But, as promised, we just launched Ace, our Apple Cider Ale in Bottles in Goa, with Bengaluru coming up next at the end of the month. Notably, Ace is India’s first locally bottled cider ale and we are incredibly excited to take lead in creating a new category in Indian retail that we believe has immense growth potential in the years to come.
The White Owl Brewery has come a long way, and because of their passion and uniqueness in flavours, it is definitely a leading craft beer brand in India. Now that their beer is readily available in bottles as well (especially their apple cider!!), when are you getting your hands on it?