The launch of beer discovery app Buzzd could herald the next stage in the evolution of the craft beer scenario in India.

Ganesh Vancheeswaran

Over the past decade, India has seen the birth and growth of a small but growing and vibrant craft beer community. The movement that began with the launch of one craft brewery in 2009 (in Gurgaon) and a clutch of others the next year or so (in Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune) has firmly taken root. Alongside the birth of several craft breweries across the country, we have seen the growth of a tribe of craft beer lovers. 

Conversations among many beer drinkers in Indian cities are now peppered with references to NEIPA, Saison, Dubbel, Trippel and the like. Online communities of beer guzzlers are constantly abuzz, with members writing about their latest dive into a craft brewery and sharing their take on the beers sampled. New beers are discussed keenly and compared with earlier favourites. Tasting notes are put up and hotly debated. From a time when beer meant a handful of brands of bottled or kegged lagers, beer drinking in India has come a long way. 

And now, the launch of Buzzd is a sign that the Indian craft beer market is ready for the next stage in its evolution. Buzzd is a beer discovery cum social engagement app that offers something for every beer lover. It helps you find craft beers and brewpubs near you, including a real-time list of beers on tap. It allows you to keep track of the beers you have drunk at different pubs. It gives you information on beer styles, ABV levels, flavour profiles, etc. It allows you to check-in beers and pubs i.e., tell your friends where you are chugging what. For bargain hunters, it is also a great way to find the best beer deals in town. 

On the other hand, for breweries, pubs and bars, it is a great way of making themselves visible to beer drinkers and reaching out to them with authentic, relevant information about their brews. Over time, they can build dedicated communities around their brands on the Buzzd platform. 

Sameer Ingavale, Founder of Buzzd, says, “Beer is inherently a social drink, and I realised that microbreweries made the experience richer and more diverse. And once you begin to learn the nuances of brewing beer, it’s hard to not fall in love with the drink. I figured it was the right time, especially with Covid-19 making consumer apps an integral part of our daily life, to create a mobile platform for people to learn about the local craft beer culture in their cities and become a part of it.”

While doing his Bachelor’s degree in the USA and later, while working there, Sameer saw what a thriving craft beer culture looks like. Upon his return to India in 2018, he realised that Bangalore is seeing the growth of a similar climate (as the USA) vis-à-vis craft beer. Since India did not have a community-based app for beer discovery, he thought he’d plug that gap. And so, Buzzd. Sameer says he developed the app based on conversations with several craft beer lovers, as well as his own thoughts of what would be useful in an app like this. 

While he has designed and developed the app, his tiny team also has Hussain Khan as Director-Sales and Business Development. Earlier, Hussain worked with HipBar (an alcohol delivery app) and GrabOn (the coupons and deals portal). 

Buzzd has an easy interface, something users will like. Information regarding brewpubs and the beers they offer is easy to pull up. The Buzzd team is in the process of enriching the app with more information. While the app is active only in Bangalore as of now, plans are afoot to take it to the other craft beer centres of India. “In Q3 (third quarter) 2021, we’re expanding to Mumbai and Pune. By 2023, we plan to be in all major craft beer cities of India,” says Sameer.   

World over, beer apps have had a special place in the life of craft beer lovers. Apps like Untappd, TapHunter and BeerMenus have become thriving communities that offer rich information, experiences and merchandise related to craft beer. Buzzd aims to recreate this in India, with certain tweaks to customise the offering and improve it. For instance, while many of those other apps operate purely on user-generated content, Buzzd allows breweries and pubs to get onto the platform and engage directly with consumers, put out authentic information about their beers and create brand-centric communities. 

Sameer says that consumers and beer-serving establishments have welcomed this app; especially the latter, who are just beginning to emerge from a severe Covid-induced slump in business. Launched in December 2020, Buzzd has garnered more than 100 consumer subscribers through word-of-mouth. At the moment, Sameer and Hussain are focussing on on-boarding more breweries and fine-tuning the back-end. Getting breweries to list themselves and update their inventory on Buzzd is a challenge at the moment. But I see this changing as the size of the Buzzd community increases, thereby increasing its importance in the eyes of beer-serving establishments. While the app currently covers only craft breweries, it will eventually take in beer retailers, bars and pubs also. 

Buzzd is available on the Android and Apple app stores in India, and is free for consumers. For establishments, listing and updation of inventory is free of charge. “But,” adds Sameer, “we offer a premium plan which gives them more advanced cohort analytics to gain a deeper insight into how their brand and outlets are performing on Buzzd. The premium plan also gives them the option to send “push” notifications to subscribers and build a loyalty program to reward the most frequent drinkers with special deals that they can unlock with verified check-ins.” In the long run, when the user base is large enough, Buzzd plans to offer beer subscription packs, giving subscribers access to world-class imported bottled beers and the best curated local ones.   

Buzzd has seen a promising beginning. Its vision packs in enough benefits for consumers and serving establishments. Getting its act right in Bangalore (so as to deliver a rich experience to all stakeholders) will be key to its scaling-up and success across India. If the app delivers the kind of rich, multi-dimensional experience it promises, it will be able to carve out a special place in the hearts of many. 

Pictures Ganesh Vancheeswaran